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A window to the deceased: Vermont doctor buried with window to his coffin due to phobia

Doctor Timothy Clark Smith wanted a window to his coffin when he died in the late 1800’s.{ } He suffered from severe taphephobia, a fear of being buried alive. (WRGB)

NEW HAVEN, VT (WRGB) — If someone requests a grave with a view, it’s usually a plot overlooking a valley or an ocean — not an actual window down to the casket underground. But it’s exactly what Dr. Timothy Clark Smith wanted when he died in the late 1800s.

He suffered from severe taphephobia, a fear of being buried alive.

“It’s been years since you could see down there," said Roger Boise, president of the Evergreen Cemetery Association in New Haven, Vermont. “I know he’s buried there and there’s the glass plate. And he supposedly had something to break it if he needed to. There’s also a bell down there I was told.”

Boise said the grave, which is built within a small hill, also has a staircase. He said the doctor was even buried with a chisel in case he woke up 6-feet under and needed to break out.

Even if years of condensation have made it so you can only see a few inches down through the glass window, Dr. Smith’s grave gets a lot of visitors; people are curious about this morbid attraction in a quaint New England town.

“We were checking out the foliage and I heard about this a couple of years ago,” Kim Gray, who was visiting with her husband from Queensbury, NY., said. “We were over in New Haven and I thought this would be a great day to do it, so here we are!”

“I just found it fascinating, the story behind it and everything," said another visitor with his family. “Just why he had this grave built for him and everything and the fear he could be buried alive.”

According to Boise, there’s no proof the doctor’s grave is haunted or stories of bells ringing at night — but that depends on who you ask.

“You can hear screams at night apparently. That’s the rumor I heard.”