The Baleroy Mansion is a 32-room estate located in the historical and affluent Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It has obtained the title of “Most Haunted Home in America” due to its alleged infestation of spirits, ghosts, jinns, demons, angels or other supernatural beings. The mansion has been featured in a number of TV shows and books that deal with haunted houses. Others have described it as “the most haunted house in Philadelphia”. The name “Baleroy” was chosen by its owner George Meade Easby, great-grandson of General George Meade (hero of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War). It was likely derived from Balleroy in France.
The mansion or its separate carriage house was originally built in 1911. The first owner was a carpenter who is said to have murdered his wife inside the main house. It was purchased in 1926 by “a family that traces its roots to Easby Abbey in 12th Century Yorkshire, England; that crossed over to America in 1683 aboard the Welcome with William Penn, and that counts among its descendants three – “at least three that I know of,” says Easby – signers of the Declaration of Independence.” Baleroy housed many antique pieces that were handed down by famous historical people, including Napoleon of France, U.S. General George Meade, Thomas Jefferson and others.
After the Easbys moved into this large and spacious estate in 1926, George Meade Easby and his younger brother (May Stevenson Easby, Jr., 1920-1931) were playing one day in the courtyard of the mansion and laughing at their reflections in the main courtyard fountain, but when they were laughing at their reflections, Steven’s reflection turned into a skull while George’s reflection was normal. Steven died in 1931 from some sort of undetermined childhood disease. This has greatly devastated George and his parents but they continued living in the mansion for the rest of their lives. They along with their housekeepers and visitors have experienced many hauntings throughout the years.
George’s mother died in 1962 at the age of about 82 and his father died in 1969, reaching about 90. Following their deaths Easby began to hire housekeepers to do general work in and around the mansion. However, none of the workers lived with him. In July 1992, Baleroy Mansion was burglarized by a very skillful thief. An estimated $202,000 worth of antiques were carefully stolen without ransacking or leaving a sign of forced entry. The police who were investigating the incident stated, “The thief seemed to know what he was looking for and where it was kept.” In an article, dated April 3, 1999, in the Inquirer Magazine, “Easby tells a chilling tale of waking up and feeling someone clutching his arm. When he turned on the light, no one was there.”
In July 2012, indie rock band The Walkmen shot a music video for their song “The Love You Love” at Baleroy. The band was looking looking for a unique location to support the surreal nature of the video and witnesses some unexplainable events while there.
2005 will alteration and death of George Meade Easby
George Meade Easby (Easby) died on 11 December 2005, at the age of 87. About a year before Easby’s death, on 29 June 2004, Easby and Robert Paul Yrigoyen (Robert) signed a ‘Life Partnership Verification Statement’. The signing of this document along with a deed transfer took place at Easby’s bedroom inside Baleroy Mansion and without any witnesses or informing anyone. Less than a year later, on 3 March 2005, Easby’s 1999 will was altered or modified in a similar way. For the first time it authorized the legal transfer of Easby’s entire properties and treasures (including millions of dollars invested in financial institutions and over 100,000 antiques) to Robert, a man that has been living with Easby since 1995. Easby had always wanted to preserve Baleroy Mansion and the valuable antiques it sheltered. This has led to Robert becoming a suspect of financial crimes, especially since the will was only signed in Easby’s bedroom and without any witnesses, as well as the fact that Robert has been engaged in selling Easby’s important treasure pieces for hundreds of thousands of dollars, signing Easby’s name throughout the years and playing around with Easby’s millions of dollars. In December 2006, the Pennsylvania Attorney General filed an appeal from the decree of the Register of Wills granting probate of the 2005 will on the grounds of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.
Many close friends of Easby may have been unaware of Easby’s death or the controversy that began over the disputed will. They, including Easby’s long-time friend Lloyd Gross, were not subpoenad or mentioned in the court proceedings. Even one of the private nurses who cared for Easby, Zilpha Brown, did not show up for court as she was living in Saint Vincent in the Caribbean. The nurses were paid $100,000 a year to watch over Easby at his Baleroy Mansion. In 2008, the judge presiding over the matter concluded by stating:
“The Life Partnership Verification Statement that Meade and Robert signed on June 29, 2004 contains various provisions including one that the “Partners agree to share the common necessities of life and to be responsible for each other’s common welfare.” Ironically, the various legal and financial arrangements the petitioners invoke to allege undue influence such as joint savings accounts, powers of attorney, real estate holdings in joint names are also essential manifestations of a shared life of common necessities akin to a marriage. The record establishes that Robert and Meade had a longstanding, loving relationship, at the end of which Robert not only gently cared for Meade by making sure he had 24-hour nursing care, but also by assuring him the opportunity to meet with his friends in his beloved Baleroy. Based on the record presented, the respondent established by clear and convincing evidence the absence of undue influence.”
— John W. Herron
On July 9, 2012, Baleroy Mansion was sold after all antiques were sold at auction or donated to local museums. Most of Easby’s antique cars have been sold in recent years. They include the 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith (which was previously owned by Prince Aly Khan, husband of the famous American actress Rita Hayworth and father of Aga Khan IV) and Easby’s first automobile, the 1935 Packard Super Eight which was sold for $110,000. A number of other antique items belonging to Easby have also been sold through auctions.
George Meade Easby allegedly first experienced paranormal activity shortly after moving into Baleroy Mansion, before the death of his playful young brother Steven. Among the many claimed spirits or ghosts at Baleroy Mansion, one is said to be Easby’s brother Steven, whose portrait once fell and landed about 15 feet away from where it was hanging. The string or rope on the back of the portrait and the hook on the wall were reported to be still intact. Steven’s full body spirit also has been said to haunt his room and that Easby supposedly encountered it when he was a kid. A number of people have claimed to have seen the ghost of Steven lurking around them. David Beltz and a co-worker were busy working outside in the back of the house when they claimed to see young Steven looking at them from inside the house. Beltz stated: “I noticed a person looking out the window at me, a young kid with blond hair. He had his hands on the sill and was looking down toward the yard. I said to my buddy, ‘Look at that little kid.’ Then it just faded off and my buddy said, ‘Man, that was really strange.” The co-worker refused to work at Baleroy again. According to Beltz, the co-worker “would never come back. He was really scared. He just said that he felt somebody stare at him all the time.”
One of the other alleged ghosts is said to be Easby’s mother, Henrietta Meade Large Easby (1880-1962), who was described as “prim and reserved, a Victorian lady of few words”. Psychic Judith Richardson Haimes claimed that she established communication with Easby’s mother and some of the other ghosts of Baleroy. The ghost of Thomas Jefferson reportedly haunts the dining room, standing beside a tall grandfather clock. Most of the furniture in the dining room belonged to General George Meade and were passed down to Easby’s mother, including a large dining table.
Another claimed ghost is an unknown elderly woman that reportedly walks the upstairs hallway with a cane. Family members and guests were toyed with by the spirits and it was never uncommon to hear knocking and unexplained footsteps. A respected minister was hit by a flying antique pot that flew like a missile. Electrical fields in the house also attract lightning and the electricity would go off for no reason. People, including family members, housekeepers, visitors, and even renovators claim to have seen these ghosts. Others have allegedly seen or heard 1930s phantom cars that drove up the long and narrow drive way into the estate’s parking area, but when they went to look there was nothing to see.
Red room and the chair of death
In the infamous red room of the mansion, a 200 year-old red chair known as the chair of death is said to be cursed. It has been said that when someone sits in it, the person dies. About 4 people have died and Easby then banned people from sitting in the chair. The chair was said to be owned by Napoleon. It has been said that the chair is haunted by the ghost of Amanda, a red mist that is said to kill people who sit in the chair. The chair is said to be made by an evil warlock in the 18th/19th century.
Although Baleroy was once open to tours showcasing its large collection of antiques, the antiques have been removed and the property is now a private home. Public tours are currently unavailable.