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General Wayne Inn

Merrion, Pennsylvania
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee

Now a synagogue and Center for Jewish Life, the General Wayne Inn was once the longest continually operating restaurant in America. Opened in 1704, the building served as a tavern, general store, wagon stop and post office. Folks like George Washington and Lafayette dined and stayed at the inn, and in 1795 it got its name. General “Mad” Anthony Wayne completed a successful military campaign and stopped at the inn for a 3-day celebration of his success. In the course of things the inn was renamed for him, and until very recently, the name stuck.

Stories suggest that a Revolutionary War soldier got accidentally locked in the basement while hiding from his enemies. Legends say he died there—but there are also other versions to the story. Some claim Hessians in the area sent one of their own to get wine from the cellar, not knowing that there were armed revolutionaries hiding in a tunnel or hidden location (the story varies, as they often do) there. It ended badly for the Hessian, and people have reported seeing his ghost, wearing the uniform he would have died in.

Most of the ghosts that have been reported through the General Wayne Inn’s lengthy history date back to the period of the Revolutionary War. Some shook glasses in the bar; others caused the lights to flicker and napkins to be strewn throughout the dining area. Furniture in a locked room would be toppled by mysterious interlopers. Locked doors occasionally opened by themselves. Women sitting at the bar reported feeling someone’s breath on their necks, and no, it wasn’t a lonely bar patron looking for a date. It seems to have been something even more frightening.

Psychics visiting the Inn years ago claimed to see ghosts of soldiers, one in particular reporting that a Hessian soldier had been killed by a spy in the cellar and buried behind one of the Inn’s walls. The body was not found, but in the psychic’s defense, the search was called off early.

Some claim the building was built on a Native American burial ground, but there seems to be little historically to agree. And although most of the deaths and hauntings seem tied to one particularly bloody period in American history, there was, much more recently the murder of one of the Inn’s owners.

Shortly before the murder of restaurateur Jim Webb, radio station y100 was going to hold an annual Halloween séance at the Inn. The medium reportedly was too anxious to do the normal séance there—participants claim he warned Webb that the spirits were telling him something bad was about to happen. The two business partners had purchased the General Wayne in a state of disrepair, intending to restore it. But the task was bigger than they expected. As the business faced financial difficulties, Webb and his business partner, Guy Sileo, argued over how to handle the dwindling fund. One was ready to pack it in, the other wanted to redouble their efforts.

Then, on December 27, 1996 Sileo found Webb’s lifeless body in his office at the Inn. Webb had been shot. Suspicion was quickly cast on Sileo, but the Assistant Chef, Felicia Moyse, provided his alibi. She and Sileo were having an affair. She passed a lie detector test and later she committed suicide in February as Sileo awaited trial. Sileo changed his story, saying that Moyse had killed Webb because Webb never approved of their extramarital affair. Sileo was found guilty and is now serving a life term in prison.

Today the General Wayne Inn is little more than legend and memory. The traditional stone has been stuccoed and the building looks quaint and modern. The building’s new owners have decided to focus on their mission and goals, and rightfully so. Some even claim they’ve put the spirits to rest.

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Anna says:

November 22, 2005, 8:35 pm

I dont think that this is realy scary!!!!!

jodie says:

January 2, 2006, 3:26 pm

I heard about The General Wayne Inn on Unsolved Mysteries and was automatically attracted to it’s rich amount of history. I think that rather or not the hauntings are real it makes for a good old fashioned ghost story. And even though I live rather far away, I would love to visit there one day!!!

David says:

May 31, 2006, 9:10 pm

I live a mere three miles from the inn and would like to first say it’s not Merrion it’s Merion. Now that that is straight it has recently been purchased and is to become a cynogauge and a kosher resturaunt.

David says:

May 31, 2006, 9:15 pm

Also you neglected to mention the fact that in the early 90′s one of the owners killed the other one. Also it6 is built on an indian burial ground, also the Hessian soldier has since been unearthed from beneath the parking lot. Also until recently it was uninhabited. Also George Washington, Edgar Allen Poe, and a few other famous figures stayed there. Lastly there are apparitions of a little girl in a formal dress.

David says:

May 31, 2006, 9:21 pm

by the way the adress is 625 Montegomery Avenue, Merion, PA. 19066 if you want to take a look. They do not let visitors stay overnight it is no longer a hotel.

rs says:

June 7, 2006, 2:35 pm

this is tukey get a life

winston says:

July 19, 2006, 8:52 pm

In 1990 I developed a program (The Unexplained) for middle and high school students at the local university, in which we would look at the videos of Unsolved Mysteries and others and try to determine if all the bases had been covered. In the mid 1990s I began following up behind them with my camcorder to interview those on the program. In August 1996 we landed at the GWI.

At first the owner, Jim Webb, who had purchased the inn with partner Guy Sileo (sp) to introduce French cuisine to that part of PA, wouldn’t talk with us as he was getting the evening meal ready. After 15 minutes of looking around, he had a change of heart and told us he would be interviewed, but only would he tell us those things he had seen in the presence of others. Very strange were these events — a piece from the glass chandeleer which fell but flew sideways at the top of the stairs, inexplicable turning off of lights in the locked post office inside, glasses above the bar that shook and rattled for five minutes when the owner shown on UM was being buried in a town some distance from there. He took us downstairs and showed us the “Indian” room and to the second and third floors where items when put in place would be found later on the floor. He said that the week before, a motorist driving by the inn at night saw the Hessian soldier standing in front of the inn. After the interview, we crossed the street and I took a few more feet of video. When I reviewed it later, I noticed a car horn honk in the video, yet there was no car around to honk. Odd.

Two years later, I had a student from Philly and asked him about the GWI, of which he knew nothing. The next class, he told me to look on the internet. I did and found that Jim Webb had been murdered in December, four months after the interview.

I called the DAs office there and spoke with the lead detective, and told him that I had a video of Webb if he was interested. He was, and on our next trip to NY in August 1998, stopped in to show it. He felt the video had some potential use, but there wasn’t anything in it which was a smoking gun. When we returned to LA, I made a copy for him and for Webb’s widow.

I later learned that the partner was arrested for murder.

Julia says:

August 9, 2006, 9:55 pm

I have a few more chilling details to add to the General Wayne folklore.Our good friend was the manager of the Inn right after the murder happened.
They renovated and re-opened the Inn for business but was never able to get it off the ground like the many attempts before theirs. Over dinner last Monday night (7/31/06) he told us several eyewitness stories
of his experiences at the Inn. First off, he refused to work in the upstairs office due to the fact the carpet was still missing under his desk from the murder that had occurred there.
He had the re-carpeted immediately hoping this would ease his mind. Things only
continued to get worse for our friend who stated “he didn’t believe in ghosts. Period.”
A big, strong, Italian guy from Norristown who had been managing restaurants his whole
life, strange things began to occur. He said he felt utter relief to leave the restaurant at night.
The first thing he said he became spooked by the downstairs and refused to go down
there after a few weeks. He had all the liquor brought upstairs to avoid it altogether.
Very unlike him. He said it “felt awful” down there and hated the idea of dead bodies in the dark. The next thing that sent him into a tailspin was the bizarre appearance of single black crow on the windowsill behind his desk. He said “it was about 2 AM and I was at my desk, I turn around, and there is a single black crow sitting on the windowsill looking at me” he said he grabbed his stuff and was out of there. Another time he kept hearing banging, like a door slamming on the third floor. Annoyed, he went down to yell at the kitchen help for messing around only to hear “what are you talking about?! We have been sitting down here for the last half hour drinking beers waiting for you” the dishwasher said he
“yelled at a man for using the back steps earlier that were off limits to the public, but the
man did not turn around or acknowledge him”. Our friend double checked and no one was on the third floor. Also, he told us of the chandelier
that had a single spinning crystal. He combed the entire area for any kind of draft or explainable reason for the movement, but found none. He said
“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes.” He went
on to say that it was impossible to be ever at ease in the place. That it was so
saturated with stories and strange occurrences from the staff that no one knew
what to believe, except everyone had a story to tell and he had no explanation
to what they saw and heard. He is a straight shooter and I believed him. It
has been turned into a community center now and we will be curious to hear if
they too have strange things happen.

nobody says:

October 17, 2006, 1:47 pm

who belives in ghosts. And a man locked in the basment come on! If he’s in the basment and in the army then he counld get out easly, he’s trained for it. Who would stay in a basment? I would rather try to escape. hello my name is senor nobody

shauna says:

October 24, 2006, 10:12 am

Merion is the town not merrion

Valerie says:

October 28, 2006, 10:35 pm

i love a man in uniform, is he bringing sexy back

Jeanne Rohan says:

January 6, 2007, 12:24 pm

Was the woman who had the apparition on Ultram by any chance? This is a pain medication that produces hallucinations. I had an auditory hallucination one time while taking it and thought it was my deceased father calling my name.

Mr. Faggot says:

January 30, 2007, 5:24 pm

while (true)
alert(‘**** – You’ve been hit by Mr. ******’);

Kelli says:

February 17, 2007, 2:31 pm

This does not make sense why would he be locked in the room if he was purposely hiding from his enemies.

Margaret says:

March 3, 2007, 11:34 pm

My brother was a chef at the General Wayne Inn when one of the owners was murdered in 1996 (not the early ’90s, as someone else said). He was supposed to open the restaurant the day Webb’s body was found but he switched days with another employee the day before so we could hang out together. If my brother hadn’t switched days, HE would have found the body. Ick. My brother has told me many stories about the experiences he had there with supposed ghosts and he’s a skeptical kind of person. He’s the type of person who wouldn’t make stuff up, so, to me, the haunting stories are believable. I’ve only been inside once – and got ‘the tour’ – but never experienced anything unusual or scary. It’s just a shame that such a historic landmark has fallen on hard times since the murder; the place needs to be re-opened and restored and preserved.

loco says:

June 20, 2007, 4:27 pm

Very cool “facts”. What do the cops have to say when they investigated the murder-That would give this story some real credibility. And what does the “partner” that was the murderer have to say about the place and why the murder took place? Make it a stronger story, and it’ll become an Urban Legend. Get real facts on the “indian burial ground” this place supposedly sets on-should be in old public records somewhere.

Steve says:

July 13, 2007, 9:15 pm

This is for Margaret whose brother was a chef. Is it possible you could put me in contact with your brother either through here or my web site. We are a paranormal group and I would love to hear what he experieced. Our site http://www.ghostnspecter.com

thanks,
Steve

Andrew says:

September 22, 2007, 12:10 am

The Inn is now a synagauge and I was there last night for Yom Kippor. Probably the scariest night of my whole life. There are at least 8 spirits/ghosts in different rooms. Me and my friend got locked in a room and the lights suddenly turned off. Then a voice whispered “shhhh”… i screamed sooo loud. someone had to yank the door off of its hinges to get us out, due to the fact that there is no key for that door anymore. So how did the door lock? Scary when you think about it… or witness it.

mr smith says:

September 24, 2007, 10:48 pm

mk we are going here mwhahahaha

john g says:

October 3, 2007, 3:51 pm

I slept with the ghost,,he was really hot.But he ended it with me said he was seeing someone else less visible..

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