The mansion was the home of Colonel Amasa and brother William Sprague II. They were the richest men in America in Civil War times. Their business, A. & W. Sprague Company, printed millions of yards of calico cloth.
William, who was elected a senator, then governor, married Kate Chase, daughter of Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury and, later, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
It was in this house that Amasa decided to build the Narragansett Trotting Park because he didn’t like the corruption that was happening to harness racing at Washington Park. Life was good until the day before New Year’s.
Tragedy Visits the Sprague Family
On the day of New Year’s Eve 1843, Amasa’s badly beaten body, which included with a gunshot wound in the arm, was discovered. Although there were no witnesses to the crime, there was a family to blame the murder on, the Gordons. At the time, there was much prejudice against the Irish.
Nicholas Gordon, an Irish immigrant, owned a small pub near the Sprague factory. Workers frequented the pub and drank a pint or two of brew.
The Spragues were infuriated with the mere thought that their employees were drinking on the job. Amasa had the city council revoke Nicholas’ liquor license, although it’s said that there was no reason to do so.
Amasa was an influential Sprague and Gordon, an Irish immigrant. Nicholas brought his family in Ireland to America because his business was so profitable shortly before the license was revoked. Now, his business was almost worthless.
Kangaroo Trial for Sprague Murder Suspects
The police allegedly arrested every family member they could find, including the elderly matriarch and pet dog because they were convinced there was a conspiracy. Nicholas’ brothers, John and William, were tried first.
A prostitute who kept confusing the brothers’ names was the main prosecution’s witness. The jury had no Irish peers. The judge and prosecuting attorneys displayed blatant bigotry.
There was no tangible evidence. John was found guilty of murder and hanged. A few years later, evidence was uncovered that indicated Amasa’s brother, William, was the killer.
Sprague Mansion Possible Haunter Kate Chase Sprague
People believe that the spectral woman first sighted in 1925 is Kate. In life, she was beautiful and an idol for women when William was Governor of Rhode Island. She had dreams of becoming the nation’s First Lady in the White House which wasn’t to be.
After she and William were divorced, Kate encountered hard times. She died in near-poverty at her father’s estate in Washington DC in 1899. The ghost has been seen standing in front of the mirror in the mansion’s ballroom.
In 1968, a Brown University student who worked at the mansion conducted a séance with an Ouija board. They made contact with a sad spirit named Charles who used to be the family’s butler.
His daughter was supposed to marry one of the Spragues but the man married someone else. Charles, as a father-in-law to a Sprague would have financially benefited from the union.
Sprague Mansion’s Inexplicable Phenomena
People have felt strange presences, heard phantom footsteps on the stairs and saw eerie reflections in the cupola. There are cold spots. It’s said that the Doll Room has an eerie aura. People have reported feeling that the antique dolls are staring at them.
A man in black has been sighted on the stairs. Some think the specter is William Sprague I, Amasa’s and William’s father who died after a chicken bone was caught in his throat or Kate’s son, William, who committed suicide when he lost his job in 1890.
If the specters are Kate’s and Charles, it’s most likely caused by traumas they experienced in the house. It’s understandable that Kate’s ghost would appear in a place where she experienced the pain of divorce which, at the time, was scandalous.
Charles experienced heartbreak when the Sprague who was to marry his daughter didn’t. Their wraiths are, most likely a haunting, energy imprinted on time and space. Not all hauntings are at the scenes of a person’s death.