Steppin’ Through Time
by Cate Murway
"Raising the Bar and BRT have really helped us "resurrect" the ghost walk from the Cannoli days.”
Maryanne C. [Fregoni] Lalli’s “Cannoli Coffee Bar & Gelateria” represented a little bit of Italy in Bristol. She was passionate about her “fun and friendly shop that brought something special to the community she loves”, but it closed a little more than two years after it opened.
“The main thrust of developing the Ghost Walk was always to help promote Bristol.”
Midnight Productions and Raising the Bar have most successfully teamed up to present the 4th Annual ‘Witching Wednesdays’, a Ghost Walk through Historic Bristol Borough.
Allen Cross, BHS ’73 was a customer in Maryanne’s shop and is now one of the lead guides of the resurrected ‘Witching Wednesdays’, the historic ghost walks that began this month. There are three more tour date opportunities available on the scariest nights of the year, next Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015, 7:30PM, Tuesday, Oct 27, 2015, 7:30PM and Wednesday, Oct 28, 2015.
Gather in front of the Bristol Riverside Theatre. The walks begin at 7:30 PM [Rain or Shine] and they cost only $15.00 per person. [Not recommended for children under 10]. Tickets are available at the BRT Box Office or at www.brtstage.org.
Hurry! “Sold out first night”, co-Executive Producer, Maryanne happily shared.
Actor/Production designer Michael Powell, the “ghostly host/guide” presence, plays a British narrator who oftentimes throws in some humor. “He is hilarious and fits in with the tour’s personality!”
Is that a chill wind in the night air, or the breath of the witch?
Penny Bottomstone Gesualdi portrays the very green faced witch, a character originally performed by the beloved late Jean May “Jeannie” Shapcott, BHS ’10 [1992-2013].
Four seniors and one junior Bristol High student are members of the rotating cast of volunteers, earning their Community Service hours in a very fascinating way. Main characters remain the same.
“Every old town has Spirits.”
Take a lantern-led, “factual, scary, historic and fun” evening stroll through Bristol Borough’s shadowy lanes and see the homes representing the lavish life of its early Victorian industrialists. You just may discover some ghosts and ghouls while learning the past, and the haunting, urban legends of the Bristol Historic District that even some Bristolians don’t know. Surprising details will be pointed out, some which would not be recognized, if they were not revealed by our local and learned tour guides. You will leave with a whole new perspective.
The wealthy and prominent built their houses along Radcliffe Street, the community's traditional upper class address. Along the way, bring history back to life and discover the Dorrance Mansion, a relatively modest building in and among what was a largely Quaker community.
Did you know?
This house, built in 1862-63, was the former home of John Dorrance, Sr., whose son Arthur was an early investor and general manager of the Campbell Soup Company. In 1897, a major milestone occurred when Arthur reluctantly hired his 24-year-old nephew, John Thompson Dorrance [1873-1930], aka John Dorrance III, to join the company. This Bristol-born chemist served as president of the Campbell Soup Company from 1914 to 1930 after earning a Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1895, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Göttingen in Germany two years later. He was so determined to join Campbell’s, he agreed to pay for laboratory equipment out of his own pocket and accept a token salary of just $7.50 per week.
Dr. John T. Dorrance quickly made his mark, discovering a method to create condensed soup by eliminating most of its water. Without the heavy bulk of water-filled cans, distribution was cheaper. Campbell products quickly spread; marketed as a convenience food, it reached almost 90% of all the canned soup sold in the USA.
"M’m! M'm! Good!" The first condensed soup introduced was tomato and it sold for $.10 a can.
Born in Bristol, PA, Dorrance died of heart disease at his home in Cinnaminson Township, NJ and he was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA. His estate in Radnor Township, PA is now the home of Cabrini College. His total estate was valued at $115 million.
In 2012, Dorrance was posthumously inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Legends, as well as folklore, ghost stories and fascinating history come to life once you depart on this intriguing lantern-lit adventure excursion through almost 335 years of haunting history. Historic buildings and dark alleys can conceal the long-forgotten chilling stories of actual battle event secrets, underground railroads [slaves hid on the roof at 315 Radcliffe], and hidden cemeteries.
Guides point out the most interesting areas.
Join the walk through the St. James the Greater Episcopal churchyard that is almost as old as Bristol. You will see family plots and stones with such well-known local names as Cheston, Dorrance, Douglass [druggist], Gilkeson [prominent attorney], Green, Landreth, Larzelere [landholder], McIlvaine [Joseph McIlvaine (1719-1787), the Colonel and commanding officer of the 5th Battalion of PA Militia in the Revolutionary War], Morris [civil engineer], Peirce [sash, doors and blinds manufacturer], Spring, Stackhouse [bought land from William Penn and laid out contiguous farms], Tomlinson, Wood [clothing and dry goods], Wright [Burgess], and Yardley, among others.
The large stone edifice to the right of the church doors marks the final resting place of nine members of the Landreth family. David Landreth [1752-1836] made his fortune as a pioneer in the PA seed industry, founding the Landreth Seed Company in 1784.
On ‘Witching Wednesdays’, Maryanne and Allen portray Florence [Swift] Landreth and David Landreth IV, the parents of the late Charlotte Swift Landreth-Melville [1922-2013], the last of the family to reside in Bristol in their home on Radcliffe Street. David and Martha Landreth are “treated with great respect”, although their “reanimation may have changed their actual persona”.
The cemetery contains at least six Revolutionary War veterans and 35 Civil War veterans, the latter including several who were killed in action.
Will you see a roaming spirit, poltergeist or ghost there? Perhaps you’ll catch an orb on film!
Join in for an adventure into the unknown! When it comes to historic Bristol on the Delaware’s ‘Witching Wednesdays’, one can expect spooky, creepy and fun, and always educational.
Wear comfortable shoes. Storytelling and walking the town brings the history alive, so one can easily imagine the characters. Listen to those who are invested with a very detailed grasp of the history….and come with an open mind and your digital camera.
“See you in the shadows if you dare to take the walk.”
Don’t say we didn’t warn you…….
Get them early, not on the day of the performance.
Some dates have Sold Out!!!
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