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Marriottsville's Sand Hill Antiques to be subject of spooky TV pilot

Rebecca Hair, owner of Sand Hill Antiques & Refinishing, and her fiance, Steven Ryder, say there are several ghosts in the building where the business is housed. A segment for the pilot of a television show about ghosts has been shot at the shop.
Rebecca Hair, owner of Sand Hill Antiques & Refinishing, and her fiance, Steven Ryder, say there are several ghosts in the building where the business is housed. A segment for the pilot of a television show about ghosts has been shot at the shop. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

A car crashed into Sand Hill Antiques & Refinishing this year, and that’s not even the wildest thing to have happened there lately.

For years, the place has been frequented by guests of the supernatural kind, according to Rebecca Hair, 47, who runs the shop with her fiance, Stephen Ryder, 65, both Ellicott City residents.

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“This building has a lot of stories to tell,” she says.

Outside, a plastic skeleton dangles from a noose on the front porch, left over from Halloween. Inside, an ancient wooden Romanian tool used for grinding grain. The overwhelming aroma of chemicals emanates from the workspace where Hair refinishes vintage furniture. Upstairs, an eerie children’s playroom and antique furnishings.

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Ryder and Hair of Sand Hill Antiques & Refinishing say the spirits at Sand Hill Antiques are not hostile, but can be mischievous.
Ryder and Hair of Sand Hill Antiques & Refinishing say the spirits at Sand Hill Antiques are not hostile, but can be mischievous. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Its spooky aura earned Sand Hill a spot as the subject of a new TV show pilot. A television crew for “The Undeparted” brought in cameras and clairvoyants to the shop.

“Interesting things happened,” says producer Chris McGuinness, who calls himself a “skeptic” when it comes to ghosts. “We’re putting this together in the hopes of landing a series.”

McGuinness has produced a number of commercials and documentaries through Pulse Cinema, his Sykesville-based production company. He declined to say more about “The Undeparted” since the show is still a work in progress; it does not yet have a network or air date.

Ghosts are “part of everyday life here,” says Hair of the building believed to have been Marriottsville’s first post office. It was later a general store; a walk-in, wood-paneled icebox still sits in the back of the shop, converted into a bathroom. At one point, the upper floor contained a roller rink, Hair says.

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Hair’s supernatural encounters have included a voice speaking to her son, a saw that turned on in the middle of the night, and keys that were hidden, then mysteriously resurfaced, she says. Hair and Ryder suspect it was the little boy who haunts the place, trying to have some fun with them.

After more than a decade of leading popular ghost tours and other historical larks, Lilley has partnered with the Howard County Historical Society to offer visitors new views of local history. Four new tours will delve into notable women, “colorful characters,” innovators and the Civil War.

“Johnny is a prankster,” Ryder says of him. For a long time, Ryder says, there was an “open portal” in the basement. There was a mean, angry man, too, but they got rid of him with some help from a medium, according to Ryder.

Customers frequently walk into the shop for the first time and announce that it’s haunted, Ryder says.

Many come in with aging tables and chairs. Others purchase items from Ryder: his specialty is Eastern European artifacts. The shop is lined with treasures from Hungary, Russia and elsewhere.

Oh — and about that car crash — it happened one night at the end of October, and the shop has since been repaired. Another story for the building to tell.

To watch a trailer for The Undeparted, visit pulsecinema.com.

From the time the readers’ poll launches in August to the issue’s delivery in December, businesses, nonprofits and readers alike are abuzz in anticipation of who might take home the coveted Best of Howard County title.

Sand Hill Antiques & Refinishing

12005 Old Frederick Road, Marriottsville

410-442-0433

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