Rediscovered Buzzards Bay Hotel Tin Ceiling Tells Tales of Murder, Ghosts
The Buzzards Bay Antique Center is filled from floor to ceiling with all kinds of unique and historic treasures – but as it turns out, that ceiling is a unique and historic treasure of its own.
The owner of the building, David Cowan, recently unearthed the original tin ceiling from the building’s original life as the Buzzards Bay Hotel, and it’s a stunning look back in time.
The ceiling, which was originally white but has become a faded yellow from years of nicotine smoke from the hotel lobby and restaurant that once occupied the space, is a throwback to a time even before many of the antiques that fill the space today.
According to a matchbook posted online, the Buzzards Bay Hotel and Sea Food Grill was established in 1910. Cowan puts the tin ceiling at being installed around 1920.
While the ceiling may be over a century old, nobody has laid eyes on it in its entirety for about 50 years.
The Original Buzzards Bay Hotel Ceiling Is Discovered
A few weeks ago, a pipe burst on the second floor of the building, causing a water leak that destroyed some of the panels to the suspended ceiling in the antique center.
“When I started to take the damaged panels down, I started to realize how beautiful the tin ceiling was,” Cowan said. “I knew it was there, but I had never looked at it in its entirety. I had only had a glimpse where one panel was missing.”
“So I said, ‘I have to take the rest of this down,’” he said.
He removed the drop ceiling tiles and revealed not only the original tin, but also the original carved molding as well.
“Everyone loves the look of it, the nostalgia of it,” Cowan said. “This building’s got all kinds of history.”
The Buzzards Bay Hotel Was a Seaside Gem for Decades
The main level of the building is 7,000 square feet, but in the second and third floors above it – each floor is another 3,500 square feet – are the 19 rooms that made up the lodging of the Buzzards Bay Hotel.
People could come right off the train across the street and dine, get a drink or stay for the night.
“Back when the army base here was open, this was the only place to get a drink in all of Bourne,” Cowan said. “At one time, there would be a line from the front door all the way to the police station (about a quarter-mile away) of people waiting to come in and get a drink.”
“It was quite a place with a lot of illustrious history,” he said.
However, over time, the luster began to wear off as more hotels, motels and inns popped up in the area. The hotel eventually closed in the late 1960s and turned into a rooming house and the first-floor bar and restaurant drew a different type of clientele.
“At one time, they had girls in cages inside the front door go-go dancing to try to bring business into the barroom, because it had gone downhill,” Cowan said. “It was kind of the last gasp when they tried that gimmick.”
After the Buzzards Bay Hotel faded into history, the property took on its new purpose.
“It went right into being an auction house and antique store, and that’s what it’s been for the past 55 years or so,” Cowan said.
The Murders at the Buzzards Bay Hotel
Cowan has been researching the property and has amassed quite a library of photos related to the hotel. However, not even he was ready for the photos that were brought to him recently.
“A retiring state trooper found photos in a folder with my address on it. He was the son of a state police photographer, and he had his father’s stuff,” Cowan said. “He saw the address and figured he didn’t live far so lo and behold, he came in and said, ‘Here’s a couple of pictures you can have of your building.’”
The photos show a bloody murder victim inside the hotel, being examined by a police officer. There is also a photo of a woman being led away by police from the hotel.
Cowan pointed out that he’s not exactly sure if these are connected, or what may have happened, but he’s continuing to dig into the sordid history of the hotel.
The Ghosts of the Buzzards Bay Hotel
Cowan also believes there are spirits present in the former hotel. He said he can hear them on occasion.
“Mostly just mumbling,” he said. “I can’t decipher what they’re saying.”
Cowan said the first year he owned the building was the first time he heard the ghosts.
“I thought it was kids upstairs, so I went up there and the hair on the back of my neck stood up,” he said. “There were no kids, so I walked back downstairs and then heard the mumbling again. I went near the staircase, and it stopped. It happened again the next year, but it only seems to happen in the fall. Perhaps that’s when the murders took place here.”
Cowan said he’s had one woman come and sprinkle holy water in all of the rooms; a Native American woman also came and saged the property.
“She said ‘Oh yeah, there’s a restless spirit here,’” Cowan said.
He also believes it’s possible that all of the antiques themselves could have spirits attached.
“Every object, and there’s a million of them in here, came right out of people’s houses,” he said. “They’re not new things. They’ve absorbed energy.”
What Are the Future Plans at the Buzzards Bay Antique Center?
Cowan said that he plans on pulling down the drop ceiling from the side room of the center to expose the original ceiling there as well, and then moving the antiques in that room to another part of the store with an eye toward having a new tenant move into the space.
“I’m thinking a business that would be enhanced by having an original tin ceiling overhead, like a barbershop, for instance,” he said. “I think a couple of old-fashioned barber chairs under that ceiling would be beautiful.”
He also took down many of the lighting fixtures in the antique center and hopes to replace them with more era-appropriate fixtures to blend with the tin ceiling.
However, any restorations will have to be limited to the first floor. Cowan said he doesn’t have any current plans to renovate the second or third floors.
“Not right at the moment,” he said. “It’s cost prohibitive to remodel it to modern standards.”
We’re sure the ghosts upstairs appreciate having the space to themselves.