Hale House the Crown Jewel of Heritage Square Museum

Sally Richards, author of Ghosthunting Southern California, visits the Hale House with Psychic medium and paranormal investigator Kathryn Wilson.

The Hale House is the crown jewel of the Heritage Park Museum. It’s an amazingly active location with paranormal phenomena that you can both see and hear in real time.

The Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles is a community of Victorian-era buildings saved from demolition and moved to their present location, where they have been lovingly restored in an effort to educate people about what life was like in the city during the 1800s.

Hale House
Hale House

Hale House was saved from the wrecking ball at the 11th hour by the Heritage Square folks at the cost of $1. However, it cost $10,300 to move it; $3,000 to lift the wires as it passed through town during a midnight event (the crowed roared when the fireplace remained intact); and $300,000 to restore the house to its original glory, as somewhere along the way it had been “bombed” on a movie set. Originally built at the cost of $4,000 (a small fortune back in the day), the Hale House had been moved a total of three times. The restoration work on the home is beautiful.

Now, this is one of those houses that has had a lot of living within its walls, and there seem to be many spirits in the house, including an adolescent girl. During several sessions with the PX, the home was alive with characters coming through to speak with us. The PX was sitting on a table and saying “cards,” “frog,” and “rabbit”—toy items actually on the table as one of the home’s displays.

Hale House and Psychic medium Kathryn Wilson
Psychic medium Kathryn Wilson

Wilson and I felt that the house had been used for séances in the past. Throughout the event, we were hearing noises in the kitchen, as though someone was working away making a meal, but there was no one there.

In the upstairs bedroom, we heard audible breaths that came from the area of the bed, where no one was standing or sitting; I picked up some of these on my digital recorder. Back downstairs, we continued to hear the sounds of someone walking upstairs after everyone had already come down.

Is the Hale House haunted? I’d say there are so many ghosts in the home now that Mrs. Hale had to open an ethereal boardinghouse to store all the dead who’ve decided to make this place their home . . . again.

About your guides: Kathryn Wilson is the medium from A&E’s Storage Wars and Sally Richards is the author of Ghosthunting Southern California.

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    Three Haunted Must See in New Orleans

    Jean Lafitte’s Bar

    New OrleansIf you want to hang with the locals, catch a Saints game at Jean Lafitte’s Bar, where you’ll hear what’s really going on in the city of New Orleans. Try the Voodoo Daiquiris, which are made with fruit juice and are much tastier than some others you’ll find on Bourbon. They are so delicious that I’ve been known to try many of them—for research purposes, of course.

    Some people report seeing red eyes floating over the fireplace area inside the bar. There are also tales of a woman who appears in a mirror. The charming bar is lit by candlelight, and you’ll feel transported back in time. Anyone with psychic abilities will pick up on the energy of the place. Paranormal researchers also come away with a variety of orbs and mists appearing in their photos.

    The Napoleon House

    Napoleon House New OrleansWhen Napoleon was captured and imprisoned on the Isle of Saint Helena, a group of Frenchmen in New Orleans began to plan his rescue.  They decided to acquire a yacht and sail to the Isle of Saint Helena, where they would participate in a daring rescue and bring Napoleon to New Orleans to live out the rest of his life. One of the men involved with this plan was Nicholas Girod, the mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. Girod offered his home to Napoleon to live in upon his arrival. Many meetings regarding the rescue attempt were discussed here at Girod’s home, which began to be referred to as the Napoleon House.

    For more than 200 years, it has served locals and travelers alike with food and drink, while maintaining its historical significance. Regarding the haunted history of the house, more people are apt to tell you that it has been haunted more by living artists and writers.

    Try the Pimm’s Cup, a gin-based drink, while at the Napoleon House. The recipe remains a secret, and it’s tradition to try one. The Sazeracs made here are wonderful as well. You can buy the mixes to make Pat O’Brien’s hurricanes and Pimm’s Cup at home, but everyone says (and I’ve tried it myself and agree) that they never taste the same at home like they do while in New Orleans. So it’s best to leave the making of these cocktails to the professionals.

    Beethoven, a fan of Napoleon, composed “Eroiqua” in honor of the emperor, and the classical music is played today in the Napoleon House. The Napoleon House has appeared in movies, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Runaway Jury.

    Antoine’s

    Antoines Restaurant New OrleansAntoine’s is a family-owned restaurant that opened in 1840 and has been offering exemplary service and French Creole  cuisine since its inception. With more than 14 dining rooms, the restaurant is capable of holding up to 700 guests at a time.

    Several of the dining rooms are named after the Carnival krewes, which include Rex, Proteus, and the 12th Night Revelers. A krewe is an organization or club that puts on a parade or special event during Mardi Gras season.

    One of the reasons that the restaurant is thought to have been so successful is the legend that every family member involved in Antoine’s restaurant has encountered the ghost of Antoine in one form or another. Reportedly, he looks after the restaurant and keeps a watchful eye on the operations to ensure that the finest quality is still being preserved. Guests and some staff members have also reported seeing the ghost of Antoine. By all accounts, as long as there is an Antoine’s restaurant, Antoine himself will be there to look after the staff and the guests.

    To be part of the in crowd at Antoine’s, ask to be seated in one of the back rooms when calling for reservations. You will be dining with the locals.  It’s the custom here at Antoine’s that if you enjoy a particular waiter, you can ask for his card to ensure that you can book a table with him on future visits.

    At Antoine’s, you must try the Pommes de Terre Soufflés, which are the most delightful puffed potatoes! They come out hot and puffy, and they must be eaten immediately to savor them. Once they are cooled, they are not the same, so enjoy them quickly.

    When dining at Antoine’s, the waiters will recommend that you take a tour after your meal and walk around the other rooms of the restaurant to take in the sights. Take them up on this offer, as it’s wonderful to see the history, including photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Judy Garland, Pope John Paul II, Presidents Roosevelt and  Coolidge, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and others who dined here.

    Join Kala Ambrose, author of Spirits of New Orleans: Voodoo Curses, Vampire Legends and Cities of the Dead, your travel guide to the other side, as she takes you back to her roots to discover the Spirits of New Orleans.

     

     

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      The Vanderbilts Who Never Left Biltmore Estate

      Biltmore Estate George Vanderbilt was 25 years old when he purchased the property in the late 1880s. In 1895, he officially opened the estate with an elaborate housewarming party for family and friends on Christmas Eve. The house was his dream for a country retreat where he could pursue his “passion for art, literature, and horticulture.” In 1898, he married Edith Dresser; after their honeymoon, they moved to the estate. Even after they moved in, work continued on the home.

      Edith and George were very much in love, and it was said that they complemented each other very well. They had one daughter, Cornelia, who was born in the home, and it appears that they had an idyllic life, enjoying the best the world had to offer.

      In 1914, George had an appendectomy and died from complications resulting from the surgery. Shortly after his death, servants in the home noticed that Edith began spending a lot of time in the library and that, while she was in the library, she was speaking out loud to George’s spirit. At first, they dismissed this act as a woman in grief over the death of her beloved husband. They assumed that after a period of time she would move on from her grief, after finishing her discussions of things that she had wished to say to George before his untimely death.

      Instead, the opposite happened. Edith continued her daily conversations with George, and during this time servants in the home began to notice the presence of his spirit, mostly in the library and in his favorite sitting room on the second floor. According to the legends, many of the servants heard footsteps and then saw an apparition of George around the home.

      The ghosts of Edith and George Vanderbilt continue to converse in the library of Biltmore Estate.

      After Edith died, the legends continued, as the servants reported hearing the voices of both Edith and George now conversing in the library. Perhaps now that they were joined again in the afterlife, they were able to pick up where they left off and enjoy their time together in their treasured home. Reports continue today from staff and visitors who hear voices in the library and a few other rooms.

      Ghosthunting North Carolina
      Ghosthunting North Carolina

      There are quite a few ghost stories about Biltmore, which some locals shared with me during my visit to Asheville. Several employees answered my questions, as well, as long as I agreed to keep their identities off the record. Officially, Biltmore does not discuss haunted or paranormal activity in the home or on the property. Also, photography is not allowed inside the home. The only spirits that they will officially discuss are the spirits of the wine made at the Biltmore winery.

      For more haunted tales from the Tar Heel State, join Kala Ambrose, author of Ghosthunting North Carolina, as she explores each site, snooping around eerie rooms and dark corners.

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        Roseville Memorial Pet Cemetery

        History of the Roseville Memorial Pet Cemetery

        Roseville Memorial Pet CemeteryIn the early 1920s, a man sold off a few acres of his farm to a local veterinarian named Dr. Feist, who immediately turned the area into the first pet cemetery in Minnesota. It was originally called the Feist Pet Cemetery and was privately owned until the late 1980s, when it was donated to the local Humane Society and renamed Memorial Pet Cemetery.

        Throughout its many years of existence, a vast variety of animals have been buried here—mostly dogs. The headstones themselves often mention what type of dog it was and include a touching epitaph. Dogs aren’t the only pets buried here, though. There are birds, hamsters, gerbils, cats, and even a horse. The horse’s grave is currently unmarked, and historic records as to its exact location have been lost. One woman even asked the current owner of the cemetery if it was okay if her ashes were buried with her pet dog. After searching through current laws and regulations, the owner agreed to allow it, and her cremated remains were buried with her beloved pet.

        Today, there is no longer any room in the cemetery, and no new burials are being accepted.

        Roseville Memorial Pet Cemetery Ghost Story

        While you might expect a pet cemetery to be haunted by the spirits of the animals buried here, most of the ghost stories actually involve human entities. Every once in a while, people hear what sounds like the quiet barking of a dog or a rustling through the grass, but the dogs from the local neighborhood or resident squirrels could account for these phenomena.

        The most often-reported ghost in the cemetery is that of a small boy, seen alone. Often the witnesses notice him in a particular place, but when they go off exploring and then turn back to look at the little boy, he has completely vanished. Other times, those who see this young boy say that he follows them around the cemetery at a safe distance and then suddenly disappears. Still others hear the voice of a small boy but don’t see him.

        The other ghost within this cemetery is that of an old woman, seen kneeling in front of a dog’s gravestone. When she is approached, she fades away into nothingness.

        Visiting the Roseville Memorial Pet Cemetery

        It is best to explore this location during daylight hours. One reason for this is that the cemetery is in a neighborhood, and concerned residents may call the police if someone is walking through a pet cemetery in the middle of the night with a flashlight. Perhaps a more important reason to explore here during the day, though, is that all of the ghost stories have been reported during the day.

        Twin Cities Haunted Handbook

        Take I-35W North from downtown Minneapolis for about 4.5 miles to Exit 23B, the MN-36 East exit. Follow MN-36 East for 3 more miles before taking the Dale Street exit. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left onto Dale Street and then take the first left after the highway onto Cope Avenue. The pet cemetery will be on your left.

        In Twin Cities Haunted Handbook, ghost hunters Jeff Morris, Garett Merk, and Dain Charbonneau explore all the best haunted locales Minneapolis has to offer, including Dead Man’s Pond, Memorial Pet Cemetery, Padelford Packet Boat Company, the Old Jail Bed and Breakfast, and St. Thomas College and the Legend of the 13 Graves.

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          A Loving Legacy at the Cornstalk Hotel

          The Cornstalk Hotel — A Story of Love and Ghosts
          by Kala Ambrose

          Cornstalk HotelThe Cornstalk Hotel was originally built as a home in 1816 for Judge Francois Xavier-Martin, who is best known in Louisiana as a former chief justice for the Supreme Court. The home was designed according to his wishes, but records show that several homes had previously been built on this property, beginning in 1730. Each of the previous homes had been destroyed by fire, most likely by the two Great Fires of New Orleans—the first that destroyed 90% of the French Quarter and the second that destroyed more than 200 buildings. The records of who owned the homes before Judge Martin are missing (some were destroyed by fire), but it is assumed by most historians that several families lived at this location over the decades.

          A cast-iron fence resembling cornstalks

          The tale of the haunted Cornstalk Hotel begins with a husband’s love for his wife. In 1834 Dr. Joseph Secondo Biamenti purchased the home for himself and his Iowa bride. He ordered a cast-iron fence to be installed around the property. In New Orleans, lovely homes with cast-iron balconies and fences are features found in great abundance on every corner of the city, so the chosen material on its own is not what has made the Cornstalk Hotel famous.

          What causes this building to stand out in the French Quarter is that the cast-iron fence resembles cornstalks, as if one was looking out at a field of corn made completely from cast iron. Each column of the fence is anchored with a pumpkin. Climbing up each iron post are vines, leaves, and flowers, until you reach the top of the post, where cornstalks are partially open to display the kernels of corn inside.

          The effect is whimsical, and the artisan must have worked long hours to shape iron into such delicate and intricate pieces, which include a butterfly landing on the front gate. The good doctor loved his wife dearly. Knowing that the swampy soil in New Orleans would never allow a field of corn to grow, he did the next best thing he could to bring an Iowa cornfield to his wife: He designed a unique fence that would remind her of home whenever she looked out the window.

          Architecturally, the hotel is fascinating. It is listed in a multitude of travel guidebooks as a must-see location to photograph in the city. This hotel meets that list for other reasons, too, including the legends of ghosts haunting the building. Guests have reported hearing children laughing as their footsteps pitter-patter back and forth inside the house and outside.

          There are also reports of hotel guests hearing the sounds of someone tapping on the window, only to find no one there when they pull back the curtain. They also report doors opening and closing in the middle of the night.

          Cornstalk Hotel iron fence vibrates with energy

          Cornstalks Hotel2At the hotel, I was psychically drawn to spend time outdoors rather than inside. The iron fence is quite captivating, and there is something almost electric about it. Iron was used in cemeteries, as it has a reputation of keeping spirits inside the area surrounded by iron or preventing them from entering an area surrounded by an iron fence, as ancient tales state that spirits are not able to cross over iron fences and gates.

          This particular iron fence vibrated with an energy that I had not noticed elsewhere in the French Quarter. The fence emanated a blue hue, as if it was magnetized with an energy field. It had the look and feel of a spell, as if someone who knew what they were doing had magically placed a charm on the fence for purposes yet unknown.

          As I tuned into the fence to determine what energy had been placed there, I followed the blue auric field and saw that it surrounded the property. Protective spells had been placed in this field to shield the hotel from any harm. The hotel certainly has a warm and welcoming feel about it. If you are standing in front of the fence from the street and want to see this blue energy field for yourself, you’ll find that the left side of the fence has the most energy, as if it wants to protect itself from energy coming from that direction. On the right side, the energy field is much more open and relaxed, appearing to not detect any harm coming from this side. This right side of the property is where the ghost boys are most often seen playing on the lawn.

          As I continued to study the fence and the supernatural energy attached to it, I had the distinct feeling of being watched. I looked up at the hotel and saw a woman looking out at me from an upstairs window. I gave a friendly wave to her, thinking she was a guest, until I noticed that she was wearing a dark dress with a lace collar at the neck and had her hair pulled back into a tight bun. My first thought was that she was dressed in period clothing, perhaps for an event at the hotel. This thought soon vanished, however, for as I stood there looking at her, she disappeared into thin air, except for one of her hands, which remained there at the window for a few moments longer. She appeared to me as someone who was very protective and inquisitive about the comings and goings at the hotel.

          Kala AmbroseMy encounter with the woman was very brief. She was quite a distance away, as I was outside near the fence looking up and she was upstairs inside the hotel, so there wasn’t a strong connection. The one thing I did feel strongly, however, was that she was not the wife of Dr. Biamenti. This woman appeared to be dressed more in the style of the late 1700s rather than the mid-1800s, when Dr. Biamenti and his wife lived in the home. Most likely she was an occupant of one of the previous homes that burned down.

          About the author: Kala Ambrose is an award-winning author, national columnist, inspirational speaker, and host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Radio and TV Show. Kala Ambrose’s teachings are described as discerning, empowering, and inspiring. For more haunted tales from New Orleans, check out her book Spirits of New Orleans: Voodoo Curses, Vampire Legends and Cities of the Dead. 

           

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            Creole Café in Old Town San Diego

            Creole Café When Anna and Charles Whaley decided to put down roots in what would become the heart of Old Town San Diego, it seems there was a plan to bring a bit of Louisiana to Southern California. Anna Whaley, of French descent, planted the majestic pepper trees outside her house in 1856. Her trees, and other New Orleans touches, were recognized by Mark Bihm more than 150 years later, drawing him to the next stage in his career. He was intrigued by the blind real estate ad that read “Deli in a parklike setting,” describing the historic building that shares the Whaley House courtyard.

            “I wanted to open a restaurant, and I didn’t want to see concrete or cars,” Bihm says. He immediately came out to look at the property and fell in love with it; the place reminded him of his homeland—his family has been in Louisiana since 1750. “The New Orleans style of the Whaley House [see Whaley House chapter], the gas lamps, the pepper trees—it was kismet.” And the rest is history.

            Creole Café is painstakingly restored and preserved

            Bihm’s San Diego Creole Café is part of the historic courtyard that Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) created from the buildings saved from demolition and painstakingly restored to preserve San Diego’s early history. The adopted buildings are now part of the group surrounding the historic Whaley House. What Bihm didn’t realize, but now knows very well, is that he was moving into one of America’s most haunted locations.

            Creole Cafe owner Mark BihmBihm and his life and business partner, Humberto Villegas, have both experienced many paranormal events in the buildings that house the Creole Café, moved from what was one of the oldest areas of San Diego called New Town, which is now part of San Diego’s downtown area. The two wooden structures with false facades definitely have a feeling about them, and many customers comment about their own experiences there.

            Bihm feels that the spirits at the restaurant don’t mind his presence there and that they have actually tried to take care of the partners in the face of danger. Customers and visitors comment constantly regarding the spirits and paranormal activity in the buildings. The paranormal stories surrounding the Whaley House and Creole Café abound—and the time of the incidents is rarely confined to the darkness of night.

            “I’ve been witnessing phenomena—and I have all my life,” says Bihm. “It just seems here it’s more accentuated. We all want to believe in them, and I know without a doubt that if we can figure out how they move chandeliers—goodbye energy crises, hello world prosperity. How do they do that? As far as the spirits here—too many people have come here and had the same things happen for generations—people who don’t even know each other. How else can they come up with the same phenomena? I do believe in them—absolutely. I’m not afraid. I mean, sure, there’s bad stuff out there, but not here.”

            Sally Richards, author of Ghosthunting Southern California, has visited the Creole Café in Old Town San Diego and interviewed Mark Bihm. Check out this and many more haunted tales from her eerie journey through the region.

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              Ghosthunting Equipment for the Weekend Ghosthunter

              Tips for the Weekend Ghosthunter from Helen Pattskyn

              Helen PattskynProfessional ghosthunters, like the folks from Motor City Ghost Hunters, use some pretty sophisticated—and expensive—equipment. Chances are, that’s more of an investment than the average person wants to make. The good news is that the weekend ghosthunter can get by—and still get good results—with just a few ghosthunting tools.

              A good-quality digital camera is an absolute must, and the greater the resolution (the more pixels) the better. I use the camera that I bought a couple of years ago for vacations. It has the added bonus of being small enough to fit easily in my purse. I use rechargeable batteries—but always carry a backup set (except for that one time at the Baldwin Theatre, the one time I needed them!). It is commonly reported that batteries die and electronics stop working in haunted places.

              A second indispensable piece of equipment, according to everyone I spoke to, is a digital recorder. Most digital recorders are small and inexpensive. All of the ones I looked at had a record time of several hours.

              Digital recorders are used to pick up EVPs, or electronic voice phenomena. Paranormal investigators frequently seem to record sounds and even voices on electronic devices, even when no sounds or voices were heard by the team members themselves during the investigation. Many paranormal teams post these recordings on their websites, allowing visitors to decide for themselves whether the “voices” caught on tape are real or just white noise.

              A digital camera and digital recorder were the only pieces of equipment I took with me on my adventures around the state, and I really only used my digital recorder a few times. I left it on all night when I stayed at the Blue Pelican—but if anyone was there, they didn’t feel like talking to me.

              About the EMF Device

              Probably the next most popular ghosthunting device is an EMF detector, which is used to detect electromagnetic fields. The theory is that, where there are ghosts, the electromagnetic fields “spike.” Other things can cause electromagnetic fields to jump, too, such as outlets and major appliances. So you need to have an idea of what’s in the area before jumping to conclusions. Natural and man-made (not paranormal) electromagnetic fields can cause people to have that same “eerie feeling” so many people get when they believe there are spirits nearby. Bearing in mind that you get what you pay for, weekend ghosthunters can purchase a decent EMF meter for $30–$50 from most larger hardware stores. More expensive models start at $100.

              Ghosthunting Michigan
              Ghosthunting Michigan

              A couple of the paranormal investigators I spoke to recommend using a 35mm camera, preferably loaded with black-and-white film, as a secondary source for ghostly images. If you’re going out with a friend, it might be interesting to compare images taken with a digital camera and the good old-fashioned way with film.

              If you’re more serious—or as you become more serious—you can purchase additional equipment for your ghosthunting arsenal. Full-spectrum digital video cameras are popular, as are night vision or infrared camcorders.

              It has been suggested to also document your adventures with pen and paper—or maybe start a ghosthunting journal or blog.

              Helen Pattskyn is the author of Ghosthunting Michigan.

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                Spotlight On: Ouija Boards

                About the origins of the Ouija board

                Ouija BoardAccording to the website for the Museum of Talking Boards (a.k.a. Ouija boards) “modern spiritualism” began in Hydesville, New York, in 1848, when sisters Kate and Margaret Fox (ages 12 and 15, respectively) claimed to have contacted the spirit of a dead salesman. The method they used for communing with their spirit friend is known as “rapping”—that is, getting the spirit to rap or knock on a table during a séance. Messages could be spelled out this way by asking a spirit to knock once for “A” twice for “B,” and so on. Although Margaret later claimed the whole thing was just a hoax and even went so far as to demonstrate their methods to the public, the idea of speaking to the dead had already spread like wildfire across not only the United States, but also Great Britain and other European countries.

                Since the dawn of human history, the idea of spirits has fascinated people, and many have sought ways to communicate with those who have passed over to “the other side.” Even after the Fox sisters were debunked, other mediums (called such because they acted as intermediaries between the living and the dead) continued to refine their methods of communicating with the deceased. Automatic writing replaced rapping; a pencil was attached to a small basket, and the medium would place his or her fingertips on it and allow the spirit to take over and write out their message. Automatic writing is still practiced by psychics today.

                Eventually, the heart-shaped planchette, or “little plank,” which was used to point to letters already printed out on a board, replaced the basket and pencil. This, of course, was the original Ouija board. The first patent for a commercially produced “talking board” was filed on May 28, 1890; it lists Elijah J. Bond as the inventor.

                If you are interested in the paranormal, check out America’s Haunted Road Trip books, a one-of-a-kind series of haunted travel guides. Each book profiles more than 30 haunted places open to the public. From inns and museums to cemeteries and theaters, the author visits each place, interviewing people who live and work there. Each guide also includes travel instructions, maps, and an appendix of 50 more places the reader can visit.

                Picture of Ouija Board: By Visitor7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

                 

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                  Haunted Holly Hotel

                  Historic Holly Hotel haunts staff and guests

                  Holly HotelThe historic Holly Hotel is said to be the single most haunted building in the state of Michigan. It has been written about in newspapers and magazines and has been featured on both local and national television. In 2009, it was the subject of an episode of the popular Travel Channel program The Most Terrifying Places in America. Numerous paranormal investigators have visited the Holly Hotel, including the Motor City Ghost Hunters, the Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan, the Michigan Paranormal Research Association, and well-known parapsychologist Norman Gauthier, who concluded that the building was “loaded with spirits.”

                  Despite its name, the Holly Hotel is no longer an inn and does not accommodate overnight guests. However, the dining room remains a favorite spot for dinner, afternoon tea, and Sunday brunch. Dinner is served nightly, while a traditional Victorian-style high tea is served every day except for Sunday. The restaurant’s menu is an award-winning blend of traditional signature dishes, some of which have changed very little over the last century, and contemporary seasonal fare. In addition to being featured in magazines and on television for its ghosts, the Holly Hotel is known nationally for its fine cuisine.

                  The Holly Hotel suffered two major fires in its long history. The first occurred on January 19, 1913, and the second was 65 years later on January 19, 1878. Reports have it that both fires started at “exactly the same time, to the hour.”

                  Former owner most active ghost at Holly Hotel

                  In fact, the Holly Hotel has been the sighting of a number of apparitions over the years. One of the most frequently seen is believed to be the spirit of Nora Kane, a former hostess of the inn. Many guests claim to have seen her in the bar area and in the back hallway, which used to be the main entrance to the hotel.

                  The inn’s most famous ghost is probably former owner Mr. Hirst, who passed away in the 1920s, but who, many believe, has never let go of his hotel. He is reputed to be the most active—and most unhappy—when renovations have been made to the property. A myriad of other spirits are said to inhabit the 120-year-old building.

                  Helen Pattskyn visited the Holly Hotel and interviewed the staff and owner. Find out all about their ghostly tales in her book Ghosthunting Michigan.

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                    Poltergeist Activity at Chicago Congress Hotel

                     

                    Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds share the history
                    and ghost activity of Chicago’s Congress Hotel

                    Directions The Congress Hotel is near the center of Chicago at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway. The hotel is a couple blocks from the lake and overlooks Grant Park. The street address is 520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605.

                    Congress Hotel Chicago1History The hotel was a grand structure built to cater to attendees of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair. Throughout its many years of operation, countless famous individuals have stayed at the hotel, including movie stars and several Presidents of the United States.

                    Some say that the Congress Hotel had become a headquarters for Al Capone during his reign as crime lord during Prohibition, although there is little evidence to support this theory.

                    Another rumor suggests that it is the inspiration behind Stephen King’s short story “1408.” In this story, a writer who pens ghost stories stays in a hotel that supposedly has a room so haunted, no one will stay in it. During the one night he lodges there, he experiences the most terrifying moments of his life.

                    Ghost Story Several rooms throughout the hotel are considered haunted. The most haunted room that is still open to the public is room 441. Many strange things happen in this room, including the sounds of voices, manifestations of apparitions, the presence of cold spots, and poltergeist activity that includes objects launching themselves across the room. There is also rumored to be a room on the hotel’s 12th floor that is so haunted, it is actually closed to the public and hidden from view. The doorway is said to have been permanently sealed and wallpaper installed over it.

                    The Florentine Room was once a roller-skating rink. Today, people still hear the sounds of roller skates crossing the floor, as well as those of organ music. People on the fifth floor of the building often hear moans near the elevator. Throughout the common areas of the hotel, objects are said to throw themselves across the room. Cold spots and apparitions are also felt and seen throughout the hotel, especially after dark.

                    Congress Hotel Chicago2Another haunted room in the hotel, the Gold Room, is frequently used for events and weddings. A strange phenomenon often appears in wedding photographs. People who are known to have been present in pictures are mysteriously absent in the final photographs. There are blank spots in the photographs where the people were standing, and no one can explain why they are not there. The mysterious photographs are most often taken near the grand piano in the Gold Room.

                    The most famous apparition in the building is named Peg Leg Johnny and belongs to a homeless man who was killed at the hotel. People report seeing a haggard, one-legged man in the south tower of the hotel who mysteriously vanishes into thin air upon being approached.

                    Visiting Due to its tony location and grand view, it is rather pricey to stay at this hotel for the night. But actually booking a room is really the only way to explore and perhaps experience its ghosts. If you do choose to stay at the hotel, you can ask to reserve room 441, if it is available. The hotel is beautiful, convenient to many attractions, and offers amazing views of Michigan Avenue and the lake. If you can afford a night here, it is well worth the money. Beyond this, the décor makes it feel as though you are entering a different time and place.

                    For 98 more ghostly places to visit in and around the Windy City, check out the authors’ Chicago Haunted Handbook. Ghost hunters Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds explore all the best haunted locales Chicago has to offer, including Resurrection Cemetery, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, Murder Castle, St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Site, and even Wrigley Field.

                     

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