Sun Inn Preservation Association founder Hughetta Bender put her heart and soul into saving the Main Street historic site.
And some believe her soul still remains in the former 1758 hotel.
On a January visit to the inn, a Lehigh Valley-based paranormal investigation group snapped a photo of what appears to be a woman in a second floor window. The figure looks to have gray hair, glasses and be wearing a white apron.
“I said, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Hughetta,'” said Bucky Szulborski, a Sun Inn Preservation Association board member who joined the paranormal group on its investigation. “She wore a white apron.”
“For that to appear at the Sun Inn — it’s remarkable,” he said.
Bender’s likeness was far from the only paranormal observation Lehigh Valley Research and Investigation in Paranormal Activity made on two visits to the inn — Jan. 24 and Saturday.
The group caught on tape at least 15 unknown voices and what they say sounds like a half-hour long ghosts’ party in the dining room.
The group ranks the Sun Inn as among the most — if not the most — haunted place they’ve investigated.
“This place is as active as it gets,” said member Jim Fitzgerald, a Whitehall Township resident.
The group went room-by-room on both nights, asking if there were any spirits in the inn. They asked about Elizabeth Moore, a nurse who died in 1897 at the inn.
When they asked if Elizabeth was there, someone responded with the word, “Moore,” said member Steve Werner, of Bethlehem.
The response was only heard through audiotape, as were all the other unknown voices. Group members believe ghosts affect magnetic forces, so they can often only be heard on tape but not in person.
The group played many of the recordings for the media Thursday, including two instances of a strained voice saying “We’re watching you.”
On another recording, Werner and Fitzgerald are up in the attic, asking if any slaves were kept there during the inn’s early days. “See my back,” someone can be heard saying in response.
“That wasn’t us,” Fitzgerald said. “Who knows what the attic could be used for — it could have been used for housing prisoners.”
Group members say they’re the first to debunk any non-authentic sounds on their recordings. They’ll consider outside noises or if any of them may have moved while the tape recorder was on.
Each member makes his or her own tape of each investigation, as well as taking video and photographs.
There were many other interesting occurrences the group caught on tape. There were several incidents of voices saying “I hate John,” Werner said. Several men named John owned the inn during its early days.
Another time, member Joe Marrero asked someone in the attic what kind of person they were. The answer: “Rich.”
The group also was told several times to “get out” but said overall, the Sun Inn ghosts seem friendly.
Paranormal groups from Philadelphia and Cumberland, Pa. also recently investigated the inn. Philadelphia’s findings were inconclusive, but the Cumberland group declared the site as one with paranormal activity.
The Lehigh Valley group took it one step further. The Sun Inn, a certificate they presented to the inn said, is haunted.
The inn plans to display both declarations and advertise its new haunted status through ghost hunting sessions March 13 and 14. Lehigh Valley paranormal group members will lead the sessions.
Szulborski, who never believed in ghosts before, said he may be a convert after seeing Bender’s likeness in the photograph.
“I now say, when I leave the building, goodnight to her,” he said. “If anybody’s spirit is at the Sun Inn, it would be her, looking over the place.”