Lydia Rapoza, curator of the Sprague Mansion and foremost authority on the Sprague Family legacy takes photographer Cyril Place on a 6 month odyssey of photos and spooky times.

It was a saga of a family too unbelievable to be true. This is a tale of untimely deaths, murder, politics, romance, treason and war, of adultery and betrayal, a complete fall from riches to rags and a young woman caught up in her own beauty and ambition.

Not on the social lists of the wealthy people of Providence with their "old' money, the Spragues earned their wealth the old New England way, the patriarch opened a cotton mill at the turn of the 19th century. At the height of the War of Rebellion, the Civil War, his grandsons were the wealthiest men in America. By the end of the of 19th Century the brothers Sprague would have a falling out with each and hardly be remembered by anyone who had called them friends at the height of their power.

The stage this drama played itself out on was the Sprague Homestead in the town of Cranston, Rhode Island. Now called the Sprague Mansion, the house still stands, although almost lost to progress in 1967. Modern traffic on Cranston Street stops only briefly for the stop signal at Cranston and Dyer Avenue. Most of the occupants of the automobiles are lost to the knowledge that much of what was discussed in the old mansion still touches their way of life today.

The walls of the Sprague Mansion sometimes vibrate with the booming music from the cars passing but what secrets the walls could tell they keep to themselves. There are times when a rogue secret manages to release itself from the ages of time. Some visitors have claimed to have felt cold icy hands on them or the sound of a woman weeping in the wine cellar. Perhaps it was the butler who forgot to put out the lights in the doll room and is seen on the stairway returning to do so. What spirit is it that has pulled the blankets off sleeping guests of the Mansion during the night?eep

Haunted, they say. Well, it is an old New England mansion that has seen more than its share of tortured souls. For the most part the spirits are peaceful, seemingly taking amusement in their playful little pranks. The only advice the gentle reader should heed is...stay out of the wine cellar.

Text © Lydia Rapoza