Seeing things after visiting the pub? It could be haunted

Special to the Sunday News
June 22. 2013 2:33AM

PORTSMOUTH — If you find yourself reaching for your sweater because of that chill in the air, but it's the dead of summer, you must be on one of Roxie Zwicker's tours.

Zwicker, owner of New England Curiosities, hosts a Haunted Pubs of Portsmouth Walk throughout the summer. The tour takes those who dare on a trip to seven of Portsmouths pubs where Zwicker will share the legends and lore of not only the city's historic buildings but its brews. And, if you're lucky, maybe a ghost will make its presence known.

But if not, Zwicker promises that visitors will take away the legacy and history of some of Portsmouth's oldest taverns. Among the yarns Zwicker will spin are those of the ghost who knocks down glasses and locks doors, the 19th century ladies who peer out windows, and a pub-turned inn where spirits well, throw spirits out the windows.

Zwicker said among the haunted highlights will be the tale of Babe, who word has it has hung around the Blue Mermaid Island Grill since the 1930s.

"We believe the building used to be a brothel," Zwicker said. "The history of brothels and pubs in Portsmouth are inextricably linked."

Zwicker said she mostly knocks things over and the staff and owner of the grill say they have seen her.

"She's harmless," Zwicker said. "But she does let you know that she is there."

Portsmouth's brewing history dates back to the original colonies and at one time was the dominant industry in the city. Among the notable breweries in its history was the Frank Jones Brewery which was one of the largest ale-makers in America in its heyday.

"I don't think that people realize that at one point, Portsmouth was a major source of beer for the United States," Zwicker said.

While this is not a drinking tour, Zwicker said after the tour, participants are encouraged to go back to some of the establishments for a nightcap, or, according to Zwicker's website, "join their host in a local establishment for additional stories over 'spirited beverages.'"

Summer tour dates include Wednesday, July 3, at 7 p.m.; Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m.; and Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m.

Due to space and facility limitations, the tour is by reservation only. Tours are $20 per person plus gratuities. Food and drinks are not included in the tour price. Private group tours are also available. For groups of six to 10, tours are $25 per person, plus gratuities and $22-plus for groups of 11 to 26 people.

The tour is approximately two hours long and starts at the Blue Mermaid Island Grill, 409 The Hill, Portsmouth.


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