White Lilac Inn Spring Lake New Jersey Bed and Breakfast Here's a great ghost story from the innkeeper of the White Lilac Inn... I knew the minute I stepped onto the property that I loved this house...It took 9 months to get a contract of purchase and still we were not sure until the day it closed, just before Memorial Day in 1994...it came with 24 borders, standing water in the basement (no termites, they all drowned), a spiral staircase leading to a trap door and a sagging ceiling in the parlor.
We started to really work on the house mid-September and I think I was up and down the staircase at least a 100 times a day we used so much Clorox while cleaning I was surprised you could smell anything else, but just as I would ascend the stairs in about the same spot I would smell a light hint, a bit of a floral scent, I didn't think much of it until my Aunt and mother in law keep asking me what perfume I was wearing (scraping plaster and trying to put a dent in this house (definitely a sink or swim proposition) I had no time for perfume...
Before we could start as a B&B we needed to change not only the name of the place, but conjure up a clean Victorian image, hence...The White Lilac Inn (only there weren't any lilacs on the property!).
During our 2nd year, as guests were starting to stay, one by one started to mention the lovely floral fragrance on the staircase...they asked if it was a lilac potpourri. We didn't have any...after awhile it was uncanny how people would mention this, always more than one person at a time and then nothing for a very long time, and it would start again, Season had nothing to do with it...even in the dead of winter you could smell the lilacs?
We were on a Christmas tour and a tour-gore picked up one of our brochures and brought it into her office for her friend and said "Here, you like old houses...", and the woman said "I don't believe it, I lived in that house!"
Janet Fennimore called me the very next day and started telling me all about the house, her family and in particular her mother Sally.
Sally Mann Randock Francis (she had married three times loved to throw parties and adored this house) and her idea of a summer vacation started with Easter and lasted till Thanksgiving. They finally built the large fireplace in the parlor during the depression because the family was freezing and someone stopped by willing to work for food.
She was a NY model and her 2nd husband (Steven Randock) was in advertising, they were always entertaining ...even the Ziegfeld girls stayed here! During prohibition the original butler's pantry was known as "the bar", Betty Grabel pin-ups and all.
In 1922, the 7th owner, Mrs. O'Neil (also from NY, and who owned other properties in this area Rented the house to Sally & Stephen Randock). The house at that time was still referred to as the "Rainbow Cottage" from the previous owners John & Lillian Rainbow (Mrs. O'Neill's daughter & son-in-law). Sally & Stephen eventually purchased the property and that would make them the 8th owners.
Looking at the deeds, it appears that the Randocks sold the house in the fall of 1940 to Bertha R. & Hubert Van Note, then in the summer of 1942 the house was sold to Sally & Neil Francis making them the 10th owners...Come to find out through Sally's daughter Janet, That the Van Notes were her older sister Betty & husband Hubert, an attorney who just held the property in name only...Sally never left the house. It then became the "Francis House" Sally, now with her third husband Neil Francis, ran it as a summer guesthouse. One memorable story an executive from the Colgate Palmolive Company's mistress summered here in our now Room at the top and she had to waite by the phone two hours each day to see if he would be coming to the shore.
Sally's bedroom was on the second floor facing the front of the house and she always wore not only floral perfume, but corsages of fresh flowers...it has to be her descending the stairs every now and then keeping her eye on things.
I do feel she is a kindred spirit and I love having her in this house!
I have had people enter the Inn and comment on a good aura that they could sense. I was also told that this scent might be a "residual haunting".
When I purchased the property I tried to find out the History and folklore from the previous owners of the Shamrock Lodge (yes, everything was green when I bought the house...)
They had tried to contact Sally for Information but she never responded...her daughter told me that she drove by the house one day and was so upset by all the shamrocks adorning the building she kept on going.