It’s written and talked about all over, from the Internet to print publications and water cooler and kitchen klatches.
After siphoning around for intrigue in what turned out to be a Leonardo well house without a drop of diabolical deeds stowed away in its dank, peanut stone closets, some interesting theories did come to light. We also learned some truths that debunk the grim gossip about the place.
One truth that topples several spooky spin-off tales (say that fast five times) is that master of the house, Mr. Dempsey, whose first name is still unknown, killed himself and/or his entire family there.
One saga of lore says that he hung himself from a tree on the property around Halloween and kids thought he was a decoration. Another says that he went nuts one night and killed his family and himself.
None of that, according to township officials, is true.
In fact, according to records, no one ever lived in the house. The township owns it now. More details of the acquisition and the township’s plans for the site will come.
What is known is that the house was built as a pump station, to generate well water for the area, in the 1920s. The rusty, rickety, padlocked gate that brings the peanut stone pillars and wall around it together is marked by two signature Ds and the year 1923, confirming the age and original owner’s mark.
It's definitely a historic landmark. The peanut stone of which it was constructed gives that much away. Does anyone know what peanut stone actually is? Well, research says that it's a mixture of pebbles and quartz that naturally formed, over time, into rock. Its origination dates back more than 10 million years and it has been used since the 1880s for construction. Some sidewalks are still made of peanut stone.
One person wrote Patch and said that, to their knowledge, Dempsey’s grandson lives across the street. Others, including township officials, said that the real Dempsey homestead is nearby, possibly across the street from the corner lot where the condemned pump house stands off Center Avenue in the township’s Leonardo section.
Another reader wrote us and said that he had confirmation from his father that his grandfather, a mason, was a contractor who built the house. He also said that his mother, now 83, tells him that the house was the family’s pool house. Close (having something to do with water), but not what we found to be true. Someone else said that the house was built as a playhouse for the Dempsey children. Not true.
As to whether or not the house is haunted, well … that is a subjective matter. Some believe. Others don’t.
What we do know is that the peanut stone house still stands. It is owned by the township. Nobody killed anybody there. Mr. Dempsey didn’t hang himself from a tree in this or any other nearby yard. But, hey, if you have proof of anything contrary, get it to us.
Check back for an update to this story on what will be done with the site and the house and when.
In the meantime, check out our Mysterious Middletown Sightings Tour feature tomorrow and make sure to let us know what you know about it in our comments section.