EAST HADDAM, Conn. (WTNH) — The meeting house in Johnsonville was filled with people hoping to bring the so-called ghost town back to life. There hadn’t been that many people in the historic village in decades.
“We don’t like the term ‘ghost town.’ I don’t think anybody likes that. So we would like to bring new life into this village or town,” said Joji Crisostomo who is a minister with Iglesia Ni Cristo or the Church of Christ.
Started in the Philippines, the non-denominational church now has millions of members worldwide and is now the proud new owner of Johnsonville.
“Congratulations,” said an attorney after the papers were signed and the sale was complete. A round of applause followed. Once a thriving village in the Moodus section of East Haddam, it was built by workers at the nearby Neptune Twine Mill in the mid 1800’s. The town flourished until the 1960’s. It later became known as a Victorian Village and appeared in a Billy Joel video and a Cuba Gooding Jr movie. The village is now part of the Church of Christ which already has three other congregations in Connecticut.
“We’re very very interested in meeting people and enjoying each other,” East Haddam First Selectman Emmett Lyman told the crowd. “So welcome aboard.”
Mike Dirgo has been the property manager for fourteen years.
“Well there are no ghosts here I can tell you that. I haven’t found any yet,” said Dirgo with a laugh.
He feels he’s leaving the property in good hands.
“It’s like a still picture in time,” said GP Santos, Legal Counsel for the church. “So nothing but restoration.” The 62 acre property complete with a church, meeting house, general store, pond, and covered bridge sold for $1,850,000 but it will take more money than that to get it up and running again.
News 8 asked Joji Crisostomo if he foresees people living in the village. “Looking at the houses not now,” he said. “But absolutely.”