Phantoms of the Inn
September 23rd, 2015 by Debby Schoeningh
The Sumpter Bed and Breakfast, is believed to be haunted by ghosts that once roamed the halls of the building when it was used as the town’s hospital.

The Sumpter Bed and Breakfast, is believed to be haunted by ghosts that once roamed the halls of the building when it was used as the town’s hospital.

Spirits haunting Sumpter Bed & Breakfast attract national media attention

By Debby Schoeningh

Sumpter Bed & Breakfast is a charming place to visit. It has modern conveniences combined with the romance of years gone by. However, amidst the antique Victorian furniture, floral-papered walls and comfy ambiance, guests have reported some unusual experiences, including shaking beds, rattling doorknobs and ghostly apparitions.

The B&B in Sumpter, Oregon, was a hospital during the gold mining town’s heyday in the early 1900s. Its long-gone inhabitants—now mere shadows of their former selves—continue to lurk within the confines of the building.

Jay and Barb Phillips, who bought the building in 1997 and renovated it, say the spirits living with them at the B&B—that is also their home—have never been malevolent. The ghosts that haunt the inn are mostly nurses lingering from the old hospital and the occasional meandering lady of the evening from a brief stint when the building was a brothel. From 1918 to 1973, the building was a Masonic Hall.

Barb and Jay had lived at the B&B for about 15 years before deciding all of the noises they had chalked up to creaks and groans as the old building settled in the changing temperatures could be related to impish spirits.

Barb retired from teaching in 2011 to work at the B&B full time. The following year the Syfy television channel started filming the Ghost Mine series in the Sumpter area. During the filming, the miners and their wives stayed at the B&B. While there, they detected paranormal activity. Consequently, the B&B was featured on an episode of Ghost Mine and was mentioned in several other episodes during the two seasons it aired.

The paranormal investigators from Ghost Mine revealed that a television at the B&B had turned on seemingly by itself. They caught footage on motion detectors of a black smoky mass manifesting itself in a chair in one of the six guest rooms.

The investigators determined the manifestation was more of a “residual haunting” due to the high volume of traffic in the building throughout the years, and the ghosts did not have evil intent.

Soon after, the Travel Channel featured the Sumpter B&B on The Dead Files. That episode, titled “Feeding Grounds,” aired August 2014. The Dead Files returned to film a second episode that will air in the near future.

Jay says at first he was a little concerned their findings might negatively affect business at the B&B, but he was surprised to find it actually drew in more customers.

“I hadn’t understood the popularity of paranormal TV shows, until then,” says Jay. “I guess a lot of people like to be scared.”

Barb says people who don’t witness anything unusual at the B&B during their stay are sometimes disappointed. “They are like, ‘What? You don’t have any ghosts?’”

Jay, who has an education in science, is not entirely convinced the strange apparitions and otherworldly noises are from spirits lingering in the shadowlands. But he says he can find no logical explanations for some of the things that have happened.

“I’ve held that kind of stuff at arm’s length most of my life,” he says. Then one day a couple of years ago he saw a pair of legs descending the staircase.

“The front door was dead-bolted and there was no one else here,” he notes.

For reassurance, they had a local priest bless the B&B to run off any potential ghostly troublemakers.

With the TV crews gone, for now, they are back to their “normal abnormalcy.”

Rather than think about all of the traumas the early miners in the area suffered that caused them to stay at the hospital, Barb chooses to concentrate on all of the people’s lives that were saved and the babies that were born.

“It’s our home, we love it and we aren’t scared,” she says. “The only real ghost that we invite into our home and pay attention to is the Holy Ghost. Although I think the Holy Ghost must have a sense of humor.”

For more information, call Barb and Jay Phillips at (541) 894-0048 or visit