Paranormal enthusiasts would probably love to own a haunted house but what about an entire village? There’s just that two hours from New York City
in Johnsonville, Connecticut.
The 52 acre parcel of land was once a thriving mill community, then a Victorian Era tourist attraction, it’s now an abandoned ghost town, stuck in
limbo waiting for someone to either come and restore it or to knock it down.
Originally founded in the early 19th century, Johnsonville was home to a number of twine mills, who used the Moodus River as a power source.
In the early 1960s, Raymond Schmitt, the somewhat eccentric owner of AGC Corporation, an aerospace equipment manufacturer, bought the property with
unclear intentions. He seemed to want to make it a tourist attraction, but despite making an effort to, never really officially did so. After Schmitt
took possession of the property, he purchased other vintage buildings and had them moved to Johnsonville, including a Victorian stable and chapel,
which hosted weddings. Schmitt didn’t formally run tours on the property, but he did open the property for visitors on a regular basis. He also
allowed special events including charity benefits and weddings. He also had an exceptional collection of antique horse-drawn carriages, which he
displayed in the livery stable.
One of the jewels is the Emory Johnson homestead. Built in 1846 by the son-in-law of one of the original owners of the mill, the four-bedroom house
has three fireplaces, pillared porches, a formal garden and original Victorian-era details. In later years it served as a museum depicting décor and
furnishings of the 1800s.
A small one-and-a-half story single-family dwelling was built in 1900. A two-story Colonial-style house was built in 1846. The remaining residence is
a two-story dwelling built in 1800.
The office, overlooking the 15-acre Johnson Millpond, was built in 1899. The former location of the Neptune mill office, the building was once a post
office. The Gilead Chapel, which seats approximately 75 worshippers, was built in 1876 and moved to the village from Waterford in the late 1960s.
No one knows the exact age of the one-room Hyde School, which was the original schoolhouse for the community of East Haddam. The Red House Restaurant
was built in 1900 and has been renovated into a restaurant/banquet facility for 150-200 people. A clock and toy store, originally used as a meeting
house, was built in the 1800s; Frank General Store was built in 1845 in Peru, Mass.
The Gilbert Livery Stable was reportedly built in Winsted in 1920. Its three levels contain oak stalls with unusual woodwork, including bead board and
raised panels. All of this is in a beautiful setting with views of the river, a millpond, island, waterfall and some man-made features such as a
covered bridge, wooden dam, paddle wheel riverboat.
While "no trespassing" signs are posted, you can drive through the middle of the village and take photos. It is currently on the market for a
minimum bid of $800,000.
Rumors have it that the Village of Johnsonville is home to several spirits, most notably the spirit of Schmitt. Schmitt planned to return the town to
its former glory, but died before he was able to complete his plan. The rumor is that Schmitt’s spirit remains on the site to protect the town he
Other rumored residents of the Village of Johnsonville are the spirits of mill workers whose bodies were customarily laid out in the parlor of the
stately Johnson House before their burial.
I think the ghost stories are being spread to drum up attention to the auction, especially this time of year. However, if I had several million
burning a hole in my pocket, I would love to buy the place and turn it into some kind of bed & breakfast/antiques/retreat type of place. Very cool
place with lots of history and architecture.