A ghost story about undying love at the inn

A series of events revealed a possible name of a spirit that guests have encountered at the local bed & breakfast

Fred McCormick

Plenty of guests have come and gone from the restored 1915 Victorian house on Church Street that's home to the Inn Around the Corner. But one guest may still be there. His name is Charlie.

And Chris and Myra Vergani have heard all about him.

Chris and Myra Vergani, who bought the Inn Around the Corner last year, talk in the room purportedly occupied by the late Charles Slidel.

“We’ve been here for over a year and I haven’t seen, heard, felt or sensed anything,” Chris said. “But I’m not the guy for ghosts and ghost stories.”

Nor were Nancy and Roger Schnepp, who sold the inn to the Verganis last year. The Schnepps were skeptics themselves when they bought the building in summer 1998. And then came the snowy day the next February when they checked in a guest, in town to speak to students about black history. The Schnepps put the guest in Grandma's Room, on the first floor.

The Inn Around the Corner has been at the center of several unexplained events over the years, according to former owner Nancy Schnepp.

“The next morning I’m serving her breakfast,” Nancy Schnepp said recently. “As I’m pouring her coffee she says, ‘Are you aware you have a spirit at this inn?’”

Nancy said the guest told her the spirit was a “very happy” one. The Schnepps laughed off the experience until the morning a few years later when a married couple staying in the room asked her, as the guests were being served breakfast, if there was a ghost in the inn.

“And of course the whole table got quiet," Nancy said. The wife mentioned she had seen a tall, slender man - definitely not her husband - out of the corner of her eye. And she'd felt a cold cloth brush her face.

Later, a trio of sisters staying in Grandma's Room told Nancy they saw a book fly off a bookshelf and landed several feet away. Other guests said they'd heard string music, even though they couldn't tell where it was coming from.

One Saturday morning a few years later, the doorbell rang. Nancy opened the door to two women. She told them she didn't have a room but would call around to other inns to see if they had space. She invited them in to wait.

They weren't there for a room, one of the women said. She told Nancy her father used to own the house. The woman, whose name Nancy doesn't recall, began to tell the story of Charles Slidel.

Charles Slidel can be seen in the bottom left of this photo, taken in front of the building that is currently the Inn Around the Corner, according to Pepper Parris, owner of Black Mountain Ghost Tours.

“She told me her father was an artist in Florida who hung around with kind of avant-garde artists and musicians down there,” Nancy said. “She said one night he never came home.”

The woman told Nancy she received a letter from her father several years later, postmarked Black Mountain. In it, Charles Slidel apologized for leaving the family. To make amends, he brought the woman and her younger sister up from Florida and put them up in his house, now the inn. Her father's room was what becameGrandma's Room.

The woman described her father as tall and slender. That caught Nancy’s attention. She started telling the woman stories about the “happy” spirit her guests had relayed over the years. She asked the woman if her father liked string music.

“I still get goosebumps today,” Nancy said. “She pulled out a picture of a tall, skinny man standing right in front of the porch. And she said ‘There wasn’t a stringed instrument he couldn’t play.’”

It was what the woman told Nancy before departing that left the most lasting impression.

“When she got ready to walk out the door, she turned around and looked at me,” Nancy said. “She said ‘If anyone sees my father again, tell them to tell him that his daughter loves him.’”