Tag Archives: chicago

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.

 

Graceland Cemetery Chicago

The Ghosts of Graceland Cemetery
by Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds

Directions From the center of Chicago, take US-41 North for about 4 miles to the Irving Park Road exit. Turn left onto Irving Park Road and follow it for about 1 mile. Turn right onto North Clark Street. The entrance to Graceland Cemetery will be on your right, at the corner. The address of the cemetery is 4001 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60613.

Graceland Cemetery1History From its inception in 1860, the cemetery has always been a private one. Its creator, Thomas Bryan, wanted it to stand apart from many local cemeteries of the time in order to gain business. He wanted it to look like the most beautiful and peaceful place in the city. He hired landscape architects to design the grounds. Famous area sculptors created many of the tombstones. Bryan succeeded in making Graceland one of the most attractive spaces in the city.

Throughout the many years that the cemetery has been in operation, many of the area’s most famous people have been buried here. The first white settler of Chicago, John Kinzie, is buried here. Assassinated Chicago mayor Carter Harrison is buried here. Department store magnate Marshall Field, private eye Allan Pinkerton, and Charles Dickens’s brother are all also buried here.

One of the most famous markers at the cemetery is for a girl named Inez Clarke. Many verifiable historic documents regarding this girl have been lost to history. In fact, cemetery records state that no one named Inez Clarke is buried at the cemetery. Inez is more likely a girl named Inez Briggs, daughter of Mary Clarke from a previous marriage. According to many local legends, though, Inez Clarke (1873-1880 on her marker) was at a family picnic when she was struck by lightning and killed. Distraught, her family had a likeness of her built and placed in a glass box aboveground to mark where she was buried.

Graceland Cemetery2Ghost Story Throughout the cemetery, people sometimes detect unexplainable drops in temperature. Perhaps this is caused by one of the departed residents walking past. These temperature fluctuations would be the most widespread hauntings in the cemetery, if not for two eerie monuments.

The first is called Eternal Silence, and it is the family stone for the Graves family. The marker is an admittedly creepy statue of a robed figure with a hood. Legend says that if you look into the face of the statue, you will catch a glimpse of your own death. Further, it is said that the statue is impossible to clearly photograph and that cameras will malfunction when aimed at the statue. Plenty of photographs exist of the statue, so apparently cameras do not malfunction all the time, but people do still report malfunctioning cameras from time to time when they attempt to photograph the statue.

The second monument is the statue of Inez Clarke. Strange sounds are often heard near the marker. People hear footsteps and whispers in this vicinity. They also hear crying. However, many of the more famous stories about the marker involve the statue itself. There are several accounts of the statue completely vanishing without a trace. A girl who resembles the statue has been seen wandering through the cemetery and then vanishing. This happens most often during thunderstorms, perhaps in reference to the supposed cause of the girl’s death by lightning strike. Sometimes, people see the glass box, but it is completely empty. A particularly famous story of this phenomenon occurred in the late 1800s, when the night watchman at the cemetery experienced exactly that and fled the cemetery, never to return.

Visiting The cemetery is open daily, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. You may not enter the cemetery at any other times. Your best bets for experiencing something paranormal here would be to go to one of the two haunted monuments in the cemetery. You should try to take pictures of Eternal Silence to see if anything strange occurs and maybe approach the Inez Clarke marker during a thunderstorm.

For 99 ghostly places you can visit in and around the Windy City, check out the Chicago Haunted Handbook by Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds.

 

New Book Uncovers Windy City’s Ghosts

The newest addition to the America’s Haunted Road Trip series, Chicago Haunted Handbook, brings you 99 ghostly places you can visit in and around the Windy City. Authors Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds profile 99 of the most haunted spots in Chicago, covering all the important information such as location, directions, a brief history of the spot, the ghost story behind the spot, and tips for when and how to visit.

Are you ready to hunt for ghosts in the Windy City?
All 99 locations are open to the public, and suggested tours are included in the back (Paranormal Pub Crawl, Gangland, etc.), which make this guide the perfect tool when planning your next ghosthunt in the Midwest. Combine this book with John Kachuba’s Ghosthunting Illinois or Helen Pattskyn’s Ghosthunting Michigan and make a real road trip out of it!

Chicago HH Cover (2)Ghosthunting-MI-lo-resScreen shot 2013-09-30 at 2.01.58 PM

All books in the AHRT series are $15.95* and are available at www.clerisypress.com.

*Except Beyond Delicious: The Ghost Whisperer’s Cookbook ($17.95)