Maria Zaroulis stands next to the marble tablet in town hall

Maria Zaroulis stands next to the marble tablet in town hall which bears the name of Frank Farmer and JK Chandler, members of the original building committee in 1919. Town hall was built “as a memorial of the civic pride and public spirit of the people of Tewksbury.”      (Paige Impink photo)

TEWKSBURY — A new program produced by Tewksbury Telemedia re­cently set out to investigate happenings in Tewks­bury Town Hall that are not related to any committee or board meeting, primary or election result, or the somewhat noisy new heating system.

Quiet mentions of unexplained sounds and odd occurrences swirled spec­ulation that perhaps there was a presence in the building of someone or something from the town’s past. In an effort to discern what may be going on, Board of Health and Beautification Committee member Maria Zaroulis, who is also a psychic medium, spent some time with the Telemedia crew to see if the mystery could be solved.

According to Brian Dor­rington, Director of Tewks­bury Telemedia, "Jason [Marshall] and I were the ones who called Maria on this. We both heard unexplained noises very late at night when we were the only ones in the building. We thought it would be great to use our personal experiences as a catalyst for a new show.”

Zaroulis, who has been aware of an ability to de­tect the presence of spirits, knew from a young age that she had a sixth sense; a heightened sense of “knowing” as she de­scribed. Zaroulis developed her skill in her mid-30s after she acknowledged that this awareness of spirits was keeping her from getting sleep.

She realized the need to hone her senses and learn more. She attended classes and workshops as a way to understand and control her experiences. Zaroulis recounts feeling the presence of relatives that have passed, and always having a general feeling of being able to connect with energy that was present.

Zaroulis explains that she does not see spirits around individuals and does not “read” people when they walk up to her. She has done readings on occasion and has walked through historic buildings and detected energy, but she is not claiming to be all knowing and does not wish to make false claims.

“People need to reach their own conclusions,” she said.

Zaroulis describes herself as an evidential medium, meaning that she does not embellish her feelings or make predictions, and relies on historical information to substantiate her experiences. She wanted to do this work as a way to dispel myths about people who have these naturally occurring abilities. Zarou­lis said that many people have these abilities but not all are tuned in to them.

Alongside Tewksbury Te­lemedia’s Dorrington and Marshall, the station’s op­erations manager, Zarou­lis worked for four months doing research, filming and reviewing footage. Through the program, Za­roulis uses dowsing rods, an EMF reader which de­tects changes in electromagnetic fields and chan­ges in temperature, and a “ghost” box — a device that runs up and down ra­dio frequencies quickly and is believed by some in the ghost hunting field as a way that spirits potentially communicate words.

Zaroulis used those tools specifically for the program so that there was something to show for the camera. Zaroulis freely admits that the tools were new to her and that she was not sure if or how they would work.

Zaroulis walked through the building to collect baseline readings and to determine if any interference was present prior to filming.

Dorrington said, “We just let Maria do her thing and took a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ ap­proach, similar to the styles of Frederick Wiseman and the Maysles Brothers. It was really a trip to see the meters spike and help validate what Jason and I experienced.”

Through the 23-minute program, Zaroulis ex­plains what she is experiencing, including an aware­ness of the presence of more than one spirit, and that the spirits are friendly and mean no harm. Dur­ing the segment, Za­roulis determined the name of one of the spirits to be Jeremiah Chandler.

A second presence, that of Frank Farmer, was also revealed. Zaroulis, through research, discovered that Chandler and Farmer had been involved in the Town of Tewksbury; Chandler was a farmer and a state representative, and Far­mer was the original own­er of Farmer Funeral Home and other businesses, and also the town treasurer.

Dorrington shared, “The fact Maria was able to tell us the spirits were friendly makes it a little less scary to be here alone... but only a little less!”

As documented in the film, Zaroulis experienced changes in temperature in one of the meeting rooms. She also is seen holding dowsing rods which move to spell out Chandler’s name. Zaroulis concluded that Chandler is protective of the building and just wants to be acknowledged.

Zaroulis visited the nearby East Street Cemetery and was able to locate not only Jeremiah Chandler’s plot, but also Farmer’s right nearby. She was as­tonished.

“They are friends and they are buried near each other,” she said. “It’s as if they wanted to be found.”

As the crew was wrapping up filming on the last night, Marshall looked more closely at the marble tablet in the small meeting room. The tablet, originally on the outside of town hall, was moved inside the building in 2015 as part of the extensive renovations.

As described by Zarou­lis, Marshall said, “Guys… you’ve got to come see this.”

The tablet lists the building committee members for the original town hall from 1919…. including J.K. Chandler and Frank H. Farmer.

“I can’t tell you how many meetings I have sat through in this room and never read that tablet,” said Zaroulis.

The gentlemen’s names are above each other and cement the connection to the building that Zaroulis was seeking.

As far as the production went, Marshall said, “Edit­ing was the hard part. We had several hours of foot­age that we had to cut down to fit into a 30-minute time slot. We went through several edits until finally settling on our final cut.”

This is the newest of the programs that Tewksbury Telemedia has brought to the community, and Dor­rington and Marshall welcome fresh ideas.

Said Marshall, “We wan­ted this show to be au­thentic and informative, not exploitative like some other paranormal shows on tv." 

No matter what your take on spirit energy, the town’s forefathers or clan­king heating systems, the program “They Walk Among Us,” produced by Tewksbury Telemedia, is worth watching. Not only will you learn a bit of Tewksbury history, it’s a chance to see some great production work and talents of the telemedia de­partment.

To watch the program, visit Tewksbury TV’s You Tube Channel right from the town’s website, at https://www.tewksbury-ma.gov/telemedia-department/pages/video-on-demand and search for “They Walk Among Us” or catch it on Comcast channel 8 or Veri­zon channel 32.

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