ASHLAND — Joe Magnani had been on the Ashland police force for about five years before he saw his first ghost.
It was the mid-1980s, and Magnani and his partner, Steve Zanella, were called to check out Stone’s Public House in the middle of the night. A door had been left open in the back of the restaurant and bar.
All seemed fine on the first floor, but Magnani — now chairman of the Select Board — and his partner had an eerie feeling as they went upstairs.
They heard some unusual sounds, but attributed it to the age of the building, which opened as a hotel in 1832.
They went to the top floor, where rooms once rented to guests had been shuttered for decades.
“We opened up one of the doors and Steve just jumped back,” Magnani said.
“I asked, ‘Steve, what’s wrong?’”
“He goes, ‘You don’t see her?’”
“I said, ‘See who?’”
The figure Zanella is presumed to have seen was 11-year-old Mary Smith, who had been killed by a train that roared past the inn — in 1863.
The dress she is believed to have worn is even framed at the restaurant.
As they exited the building that night, Mangani looked from the parking lot to one of the windows.
“Sure enough, I see a silhouette of a young girl in the window,” he said. “I said, ‘Steve, there she is.’”