Dr. Jonathan Pitney House

Posted on 23 July 2009

Dr. Joinathan Pitney House

The shingled, stately home whose Atlantic City address is 57 North Shore Road was once the residence of Dr. Jonathan Pitney, one of the town’s principal founding fathers.   Although the good doctor passed on in 1869, many feel that his spirit has never left the house.


In life, Dr. Pitney was an imposing and beneficent man with the drive and power to bring the railroad and all that it carried onto Absecon Island, thus contributing greatly to the region’s growth and prosperity.  He also negotiated the construction of a lighthouse on what was known as “Graveyard Inlet,” in an effort to minimize the numerous shipwrecks and resultant deaths suffered at the tip of the island.  Dr. Pitney’s efforts were instrumental in birthing and building Atlantic County as a province separate from Gloucester County.   It stands to reason, then, that the energy of so powerful a personality could continue to make his presence known beyond the grave.


Purchased in 1995 by a native of Pleasantville, Ms. Vonnie Clark and her business partner, Don Kelly, 57 North Shore Road launched a major renovation that, when completed, enabled it to operate as an inn.   Supportable theory concerning paranormal activity purports that, when the physical structure of a building is disturbed, as in a restoration, the spirit(s) that may be bound to the edifice are also disturbed; they may either become active for the first time or step up their previous activity.  Perhaps, Dr. Pitney’s spirit was awakened by the transformation of the place he had called home.


As with most Bed and Breakfasts, the renovation resulted, in part, in each room being decorated in a specific fashion and carrying its own name.  In what became Caroline room, the same room in which the doctor had passed from the earthly plane, one guest claimed to have had a “vision” in which she saw Dr. Pitney accompanied by another gentleman who was bald and sporting muttonchop sideburns.   The man she described as the physician fit Pitney’s physical description to a T.   In the new Victoria Room, an apparition less distinctive but no less forceful paid another guest a visit in the dead of night.  As the woman looked on in fear and amazement, a bright light emanated from an antique dresser, swelling in size before it dissipated.  Relaying this incident to Vonnie the following morning, the guest divulged that she had an uncanny feeling that whatever entity the light represented was there for the sole purpose of observing her and perhaps the room itself.


Later, recuperating from knee surgery and occupying the inn’s Philadelphia Suite for two weeks, Vonnie asked her daughter to fetch her a certain pillow from the suite, explaining its exact location.  Not only was the pillow not in its usual place, it was not in the room, period.   Vonnie insisted her daughter return to the room to look again.  When she did, there was the errant pillow sitting out in plain sight in the center of the bed!   The innkeeper’s daughter assumed that the good doctor had found what her mother had needed and obligingly, had supplied it.


Although psychics have numbered among the guests of the B&B, Vonnie has never sanctioned séances, readings, or paranormal investigations.  Her rationale is that the entity in her place of business is benign and she would like to keep him that way!


As is the modus operandi of many spirits, the doctor’s ghostly energy sometimes manifests via electrical devices, particularly the radio, stereo, and speaker system, the latter of which runs though certain areas of the house.  During an informal gathering in the kitchen that included Vonnie, her daughter Michele, and two guests, a man’s voice floated over the speakers simultaneous to a piece of taped music playing.   While three of the guests were too flummoxed to discern the message, the fourth guest stated that this voice, seeming to have no earthly source, thanked them for coming!  On another occasion, Michele was cleaning the house and singing along with the radio to lighten her task.  Suddenly, the sound of the radio grew fuzzy and a man’s voice snapped, “Stop doing that!”  Immediately after this message, which Michele attributed to the doctor’s spirit, she decided that silence was the better part of valor.


Although the physician’s specter likes to play an occasional game of Hide n’ Seek with certain objects and does not appreciate the vocal talents of the innkeeper’s daughter, he continues to take his Hippocratic Oath as seriously in the afterlife as he did in this life.   Carrying a large load of laundry one day down the main staircase at the inn, Vonnie lost her footing and began to tumble down the steps.  Considering that there were twenty of them, she could have sustained serious injury or worse.  However, she swears to this day that, as she began to fall, she felt a force guiding her down the steps, almost as if she were gliding!  She thanks the good doctor for keeping her from harm.


Perhaps a man of science, who prior to his stay at the B&B gave no credence to mystical events, recounted the most telling of the ghost stories.  Mortified at having witnessed what he did, he refused to share his tale directly with Vonnie.  However, he had confided the incident to his wife, who in turn, took the innkeeper into her confidence.  After the couple had checked out of the inn, Vonnie found the following message, written by the scientist, in her guest book:


I awoke in the night thinking I had heard a telephone ring.  Upon opening my eyes, I was looking toward the fireplace and perceived the figure of a man dressed in a dark brown or black long coat, regarding me.  When I focused on the apparition, all I could see was the mantel, the fireplace, and the picture hanging over the mantel.


Coincidentally or not, the scientist’s vision occurred in the Caroline Room: the same space in which Dr. Pitney had drawn his last breath.

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4 Responses to “Dr. Jonathan Pitney House”

  1. How I Lost 30 Pounds in 30 Days Without Diet says:

    Thanks for posting about this, I would like to read more about this topic.

  2. Gio says:

    It seems that the coastal areas of NJ in particular are rampant with spirits of those who have long passed on. We have a lot of history in this State, as well as many well-preserved older homes, B&B’s and other structures. It seems logical to me that some spirits would choose to linger on after clinical death. I hope I never run into one, though!

  3. Lert says:

    Interesting article. Were did you got all the information from… 🙂

  4. Hollie Lavallee says:

    There’s certainly a lot to know about this. I think you created some excellent points.

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