High on a hill overlooking the South Shore, Verdmont Museum (6 Verdmont Ln., off Collectors Hill, tel. 441/236-7369, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., $5 adults, or $10 combo ticket for three Trust museums, $2 students) is a historic home that offers a glimpse of old-time colonial life—as well as a neck-prickling ghost legend. Flanked by sentry-like palmettos and surrounded by rambling lawns and rose beds leading up its garden paths, Verdmont Museum is a treasure of the Bermuda National Trust and sits at the end of a quiet lane off heavily trafficked Collector’s Hill.
The home’s distinctive architecture, with four grand chimneys and a fine cedar staircase, excites historians, for it incorporates elements of both 17th- and 18th-century building design. Unlike most Bermudian houses, which typically exhibit a hodge-podge of structural add-ons, Verdmont has remained structurally unchanged for 300 years.
Historians guess Verdmont was built around 1710. The home’s English-influenced layout includes a formal drawing room and parlor on the ground floor and a charming nursery at the top of the house, displaying a rocking horse, Victorian dollhouse, and other time-worn toys. The home’s collection of furniture, assembled by the Trust in the 1950s, is impressive; fine Bermuda cedar cabinets, desks, and a Chippendale-style tallboy with marching legs are among the standouts. Several imported furnishings were brought to the island by early sea captains, including Chinese porcelain and English hurricane shades. Portraits of several former Verdmont owners hang throughout the house.
Some believe the phantom of one 1930s resident, Spencer Joell, remains in the house. Several tour guides over the years have reported experiencing strange feelings, finding furniture inexplicably moved around, and sensing an odd chill in various rooms, including the attic nursery. Visitors, too, often ask whether the house is haunted. One incident involved a New Jersey couple who took a snapshot of the nursery in 1976, and later mailed back the photo, along with an alarmed letter, to Verdmont’s then-curator. The room was empty, they said, when they took the picture, yet the photo showed a man sitting at a table. The curator, so the story goes, recognized the figure immediately, because she had known him well—it was Joell.