Old Pine Street Church & Cemetery and Old St. Mary’s Church & Cemetery

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On the 7th Anniversary of the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour’s Paranormal Investigation, we take a look back at that that spirited night in Summer 2011 at and Old Pine Street Church & Cemetery and also at Old Saint Mary’s Church & Cemetery.

While we here at the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour are best known for sharing our terrifying ghost stories with our guests, we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty and do some ghost hunting of our own.  On one such paranormal investigation, we sent a team of some of our most trusted paranormal investigators out to inspect two of the most haunted locations on our tour: Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery and Old St. Mary’s Church and Cemetery.  

Michael Tomasetti, Lead Paranormal Investigator

Aiming to enhance and verify some of our most famous stories, the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour Lead Paranormal Investigator, Michael Tomasetti, led a talented team that included Paranormal Investigators Jon Schifferdecker and Samantha Evans on the eerie expedition.  

Our investigators came armed with numerous pieces of equipment to detect spiritual presences.  A digital camera was used to detect orbs and milky white ectoplasm that can show up on film in the presence of a ghost.  An electromagnetic field detector was used to find sudden spikes of electromagnetic radiation which is thought to be one of the best indicators of a spiritual presence.  Both an infrared thermometer and an infrared camera aided them in detecting sudden drops of temperature caused by ghosts and a digital audio recorder was used to amplify sound and help them catch instances of electronic voice phenomenon. Once equipped, our paranormal investigators needed just one last thing before they could begin -- the courage to head to their first destination.

Old Pine Street Church & Cemetery

Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery

Old Pine Street Church & Cemetery is a great place to hunt for ghosts as our guests have claimed to catch a glimpse of spiritual presences there more often than just about any other site on the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour.  The historic Presbyterian Church dates back to 1768 and the cemetery on either side of the church is even older, dating all the way back to 1764. The church is often referred to as the “Church of the Patriots”.  When we regularly visit the Church of the Patriots on the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour, we tell the story of ghosts and gunshots, including that National Treasure, starring, Nicholas Cage was filmed here, and Cage ran through the cemetery while being shot at. 

Local historian Ronn Shaffer gave our paranormal investigators some background information on Old Pine before nightfall came and the ghost hunt began. Ronn had pointed our paranormal investigators towards the grave of the aptly named John “Strangeways” Hutton.  Hutton had led an interesting life, meeting everyone from William Penn to Bluebeard the Pirate and apparently had an equally interesting spirit that continues to haunt Old Pine today.  

Ron Shaffer, Local Historian, Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery

But as it turned out, our paranormal investigators discovered a ghostly presence from a much more unlikely source.  A non-descript grave belonging to members of the Bailey family caught the attention of Jon and Samantha who decided to investigate further.  While Jon read the names listed on the grave, Samantha’s EMF detector suddenly spiked to seemingly dangerous levels as he read the name Ellen M. Bailey.  We’re not exactly sure why Mrs. Bailey is haunting Old Pine Street cemetery, but her ghostly presence shook our investigators to their core.  

Not only did reading her name trigger large spikes in the EMF detector, but using the digital camera showed numerous orbs floating right above her grave.  Perhaps most terrifying of all, as Jon began to say her name for a second time, a load noise startled our investigators.  Normally our investigators need to use a digital audio recorder to strongly amplify sound to even hear the faintest noise of a ghost, but in this case the loud thud needed no amplification.  After a search to discover the source of the noise our investigators quickly determined that the noise had been caused by a gravestone being toppled over!

After calling over our Lead Paranormal Investigator, Michael Tomasetti to assist them, our investigators discovered that the toppled grave was 10 degrees colder than nearby graves in the cemetery.  Whoever Ellen M. Bailey was, her message was clear and our investigators decided to head to the next site…

Jon Schifferdecker, Paranormal Investigator

Old St. Mary’s Church and Cemetery

An historic Philadelphian Catholic church, Old St. Mary’s is just a few short blocks away from Old Pine, and it is another haunted stop on the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour, where we share the story of the Spirits of the Seas. 

Old St. Mary's Church and Cemetery

The cemetery at Old St. Mary’s is home to one of history’s greatest Philadelphians, John Barry, Father of the American Navy (First Commodore).  It was in this graveyard that our paranormal investigator began to search.  Legend has it that both John’s wife and brother still haunt the cemetery.  His wife Mary Barry, who he married on Halloween, died prematurely at the age of only 29 years of age, and John’s brother Patrick also died young when his ship capsized, and he was lost at sea.  Both members of Barry’s family are said to walk the graveyard at night trying to say their final goodbyes to John Barry, making John Barry’s grave the logical starting point for their paranormal investigation.

The Immortal Dead of Old St. Mary's

After locating Barry’s grave and reading the creepy inscription atop it, our investigators split up to continue their hunt, and things suddenly got a little too personal for one of our paranormal investigators. As Samantha walked through the grave yard, she suddenly felt someone or something touch her on the back of her neck.  Despite being startled, Samantha allowed Michael to quickly photograph her back and to her horror a clear orb was visible right on her back in the photograph.

Meanwhile Jon was having a ghostly encounter of his own.  Using his digital audio recorder, Jon was trying to pinpoint a strange sound he was picking up, a sound that soon led him to the grave of a man named John Martin.  The closer that he got to the grave, the stronger the sound got.  As he continued to inspect the grave, he was suddenly shook by what sounded like someone clearly whispering the word “stop” to him.  Unsure of what he had just heard, Jon continued to investigate but when he heard “stop” again, this time clearer and louder, Jon did not need to be told a third time.  He quickly packed up his gear and left the cemetery to meet up with Michael and Samantha.

Paranormal Investigation of St. Mary's

Seeing is Believing 

Bone-chilling, blood curdling, creepy, hair raising, macabre and spine-tingling are just several of the contemporaneous descriptions that the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour Paranormal Investigation team (including the crew memorializing this) gave on those hot nights in Summer 2011. With a number of eerie encounters, our paranormal investigators had a very successful night. 

Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour

If you’re interested in visiting Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery and Old St. Mary’s Church and Cemetery in the flesh, please join us on the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour!  Both Old St. Mary’s and Old Pine Street Church are stops on our terrifying walking tour of Historic and Haunted Philadelphia.  Feel free to bring a camera and any other ghost hunting equipment you may have to help you spot some ghosts on your tour.  If you don’t have an electromagnetic field detector just lying around, don’t worry.  You can also book a V.I.P. Ghost Hunt with the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour that will allow you to not only receive a private guided ghost tour and hunt, but lend you some of our very own ghost hunting equipment.  So please, join us… if you dare…

Our Paranormal Investigators

Some shout outs to those who made the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour Paranormal Investigation possible:

Executive Producers 

Jon Bari
Leslie Bari
Scott McClennen


Michael Tomasetti


Scott McClennen

Lead Paranormal Investigator

Michael Tomasetti 

Paranormal Investigators

Jon Schifferdecker

Samantha Evans 

Camera Operators

Michael Fares

Ethan Schwartz


Ryan Farber

Production Assistant 

Jonah Cooper

Special Thanks to:

Old Pine Presbyterian Church & Cemetery (Third, Scots and Mariners Presbyterian Church)

Pastor Jason Ferris 

Mary Hall

Ronn Shaffer

Old Saint Mary’s Church & Cemetery

Father Paul A. DiGirolamo

Map to include:

Old St. Mary’s Church and Cemetery
252 South 4th Street (near Spruce Street)
Philadelphia, PA 19016

Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery
412 Pine Street (4th & Pine Streets)
Philadelphia, PA 19106




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