Cold Spots: Tyler’s Spite House

Frederick, Maryland – It comes in the early hours of the morning, its arrival heralded by heavy footsteps on stairs. Who he is, many have guessed, but they do not know for sure, nor do they know his intentions. But what is certain, from witnesses to victims, is that he is very real … and very frightening.

Whether he means to hurt anyone is unknown, but he appears just the same, prodding with long bony fingers anyone who has the audacity to stand in his home. Although he is dead, he still lingers, many believe, out of spite.

097 01 - Cold Spots:  Tyler's Spite House

Homes are born for many reasons. In most cases, it is necessity. They are given the names of the families who built them, or at least those of their most prominent inhabitants. Other homes are given names that hearken back to the old country, titles that remind the visitors of the builder’s country of origin. Still others are named for their shape (such as the “Octagon House”) or construction material (as in Austin’s Beer Bottle House). But there are few houses that are named for their attitude, for their reason for existence. In Frederick County, one such house exists. It was built, after all, out of spite.

097 02 - Cold Spots:  Tyler's Spite HouseHistoryIt was built by an ophthalmologist named John Tyler, who later became the first in America to perform a cataract operation. His home certainly fitted one of his station with more than 9,000 feet of living space, four full baths, and seven bedrooms. It sat on the quiet Church Street, and Tyler’s life was happy.

The city, however, remained bent on progress, so much so that the city planners decided to build a road to connect Record Street to West Patrick Street, and to do so, they decided to go through Dr. Tyler’s yard. Tyler protested, saying he didn’t want the quiet and serenity of his street ruined by a busy thoroughfare. Especially not one that ran through his front yard. The city, however, persisted, and plans went forward.

Undeterred, Tyler began digging through the law books until he found a local law that stated roadwork could not be done if its path was blocked by a substantial building. In what could be called one of the greatest “F-U” moves of all time, Tyler called a group of contractors and had them immediately pour a huge building foundation on his land, right in the path of the proposed road. What’s more, he didn’t even tell the city he was doing it. The construction company showed up the next morning to find the slab in place and the road effectively blocked. In a further show of brass door-knockers, Tyler finished the house, a duplex-style creation, but never lived in it. During his lifetime he frequently rented it out, but its main purpose was to protect the serenity of his beloved neighborhood.

It is interesting to note that, for one hundred years, there were no ghost stories associated with the Spite House. That is, until the house was sold and turned into apartments. With the new tenants came stories of strange presences, odd noises, touches, and even apparitions.

The most common report was of a “presence” in the upstairs area. Marked by feelings of dread and the always present “cold spot,” the presence was reported by multiple guests and residents. The best, and most chilling, report came from artist Maria Theresa Fernandes. According to published reports, she claimed that every night at about 2:30 am something came into her room. She awakened in a cold sweat. She often heard heavy muffled footsteps on the attic stairs. Then she was visited by a gaunt, white man dressed in robes with long stringy hair. It poked at her with bony fingers. And while just one report might be the stuff of fantasy, others have seen the pale phantom and offer descriptions of events that are eerily similar.

097 03 - Cold Spots:  Tyler's Spite HousePresent Day
For a long time, Tyler’s Spite House ran as a bed and breakfast, offering gourmet food and lavish surroundings for guests. In 2006 the house went up for sale. It stayed on the market for quite some time but was eventually purchased by the Design Method Group, an online marketing firm that seems to take the old house in stride. The previous owners, it seems, left all the antiques, giving the office a unique appeal.

As no one is there at night, there have been no reports of the presences or the specter as of late.

Best Times
Tyler’s Spite House sits on Church Street in Frederick’s historic district, with Record Street ending at its front steps. The street picks up again in its back yard, giving the house its own city block.

As of this writing, it operates as commercial property, and the business that occupies its halls is a thriving company, so visiting for a haunted tour is not advised.

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See you in next time!

– Scott A. Johnson

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