Tonight, Dan from Hinsdale House joins me on The Haunted Librarian Show.
Tonight, Dan from Hinsdale House joins me on The Haunted Librarian Show.
The Victorian mansion known as Whispers Estate is for sale. Listed at $130,000, the home boasts 4 bedrooms and 2 1/5 bathrooms, totally 3,700 square feet. The Zillow site lists the status as “accepting backups.” Reputed to be haunted, the home has sketchy history.
Local lore claims that the former residents, Dr. John Asa and Jessie Ruth Gibbons, suffered great loss. The home’s website states that the couple adopted or orphaned several children with 2 dying tragically. The stories are unsubstantiated through local newspapers. It is questionable whether a 10-year-old girl named Rachael died in a fire or that a 10-month-old infant named Elizabeth died in the master bedroom.
What is know is that the house was struck by lightning in 1917, and a chimney came down from the damage. Mrs. Gibbons died of “broncho-pneumonia” (listed on her death certificate) on May 31, 1934. The home’s website claims she died of double pneumonia—possibly an error from inaccurate reporting.
Dr. Gibbons was hit by a car a couple months after his wife’s death, July 26, 1934. He died “from complications” on July 6, 1944.
The couple did foster one girl: Helen Marie. She died in 1994. Other than that, few of the claims on the website can be verified. However, the home shows well. If interested, search the home’s address, 714 West Warren Street, Mitchell, Indiana, for more information.
Haunted Georgia: Henry Greene Cole House, Marietta, Georgia
Henry Greene Cole was a Union sympathizer living in the Confederate South. He was also wealthy. He built a small house on Washington Avenue just outside the Marietta Square. It is told that his father-in-law urged General Sherman not to burn the Fletcher House Hotel because of his relation to Cole. Cole donated the land adjacent to his home for the Union National Cemetery, where over 10,000 Union soldiers are buried. Cole endeavored to build a larger home a block down from his small house. Although he died before it was completed, his family resided in the grand house for many years. Today, the house is a commercial building; however, it still boasts the architectural elements of a Georgian home.
It is also haunted. A local resident whose grandparents lived down the street spoke of walking past the house and seeing a woman in the upper left-hand corner. She saw this girl many times over the years. For several decades, the house was home to several law firms. Attorneys and their employees reported feeling cold drafts and hearing voices. One attorney experienced her clock running backwards. People walking past claim to see curtains shifting and lights turning on and off at night. The house sits directly across from the National Cemetery.
The Mayflower Place, a.k.a. the Schweppe Mansion, has sat on the market for sale for over 12 years. The house has a tragic history. It is one of the largest, beautiful homes in the United States that may be haunted.
Mayflower Place was built as a wedding gift from then President of Marshall Fields & Company John Graves Shedd and his wife, Mary Roenna Porter Shedd, to their daughter, Laura Abbie Shedd. Laura married soda heir Charles Hodgdon Schweppe on February 22, 1913. The 24,500 square foot home was completed in 1917.
The Tutor home sits on 5.4 acres on Lake Michigan. Consisting of 28 rooms, the home boasts 10 bedrooms and 11 ½ bathrooms. The Schweppes held elaborate soirees for the world’s wealthiest. However, the galas ended with the unexpected death of Laura.
Tragedy had visited the home already. Laura and Charles lost one child in infancy. They had two children, Jean and John. On April 20, 1937, Laura suffered a fatal heart attack at her apartment in the Ambassador East Hotel. She was 58 years old. The funeral was held at Mayflower Place.
On August 26, 1941, Charles committed suicide by a gunshot wound to the head. He left a suicide note: “I’ve been awake all night. It’s terrible.”
Speculation surrounding Charles’ suicide centered on failing health, remaining grief from Laura’s death, and possibly disappointment in Laura’s bequeaths. At the time of her death, Laura left $10 million dollars to be divided between her two surviving children. She left Charles $200,000. Others claim that Charles’ poor health led to the suicide. We will never know.
Guests and visitors to the property claim to see the ghosts of both Laura and Charles in the house.
The couple’s daughter, Jean Schweppe Armour, died at the age of 48. Brother John Shedd Schweppe died in 1996. Neither child had children who were interested or able to maintain the house.
The house sat abandoned for 46 years.
In the 1980s, Donna and Howard Hoeper purchased the home for $5.5 million. Extensive renovations commenced. Unfortunately, the Hoepers divorced and the property fell into foreclosure in 2009.
Since then, the banks have attempted to sell the majestic home. Originally priced at $18 million dollars, the selling price has been slashed to under $9 million dollars.
Located at 405 N. Mayflower Road, Lake Forest, the Mayflower Place is truly a piece of American history—paranormal or ordinary.
Old South Pittsburg Hospital Offering Daytime Ghost Hunts
Beginning on February 12, 2018, the people who run Old South Pittsburg Hospital (OSPH) will begin holding daytime ghost hunts. The price is $25 per person. Contact Stacey at 423.362.0089 to book your tickets.
The Old South Pittsburg Hospital opened in 1959. The 107-bed hospital is comprised of 68,000 square feet. The facility closed in 1980. Paranormal investigation teams are welcomed at the abandoned hospital. Archer Paranormal Investigations participated in a weekend hunt a few years ago. We captured great evidence from the Chapel and the third floor.
The hospital in a short drive from Chattanooga. Check out their website for additional information: http://osphghosthunts.com/.
10 Facts about Sarah Winchester & The Winchester Mystery House
Dame Helen Mirren’s Winchester (2018) opens nationwide today. The film is a pseudo-bio pic focusing on the eccentric firearms heiress who was supposedly haunted by the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester Repeating Arms. It’s more Hollywood fiction than truth. However, movie-goers love a good ghost story. Here are 10 facts about Sarah Winchester and her labyrinth of a house.
Spirits of the Cage: True Accounts of Living in a Haunted Medieval Prison, Review
A witches’ prison exists in England. Actually lots of them existed. After the passage of two Witchcraft Acts (1542 and 1563), England saw a large spike in witchcraft trials in the 1580s. However, few prisons survived into modern times. One such prison did. The Cage is a small chamber whereupon a house was built—a private residence. Not surprisingly, it’s haunted.
Paranormal investigator Richard Estep recounts a week-long investigation at the infamous witches’ prison, The Cage, located in St. Osyth, Essex, England. Estep’s narrative follows in chronological order but is separated by personal experiences from the residence’s owner and co-author, Vanessa Mitchell. Illustrations accompany the 291 page book published this summer by Llewellyn Books.
Estep’s prose is pippy as his narrative flows guiding the reader through his team’s selection, arrival, and ultimately their investigation. The 4-member team remains inside the prison-turned-residence for a week, venturing out for smoke breaks, showers, and pub food. They were able to document their investigation, and Estep’s book provides insight into their week.
Estep has over 22 years of experience investigating paranormal activity in England and the United States. He’s highly personable and adapts to any situation as he seems nonplussed by obstacles. His British euphemisms provide a nice reprieve from the seriousness of the investigation.
Paranormal investigations are boring. Most of the time, teams sit and wait. Estep details how creativity helped energize the investigation, as the team tried various techniques to entice the spirits to communicate. The investigation is fascinating. He defines equipment and procedures while narrating events.
The text, however, suffers from too many rhetorical questions, which slows the narrative. Providing little purpose, these questions disrupt the visualization of the events forcing the reader to disconnect from the text and then reconnect to contextualize the situation. It’s annoying.
Unfortunately, this is not a history book. Further, readers should not look toward this text for historical accuracy. And that’s a shame. The historical inaccuracies or vagueness of key events that occurred in St. Osyth and The Cage could have been cured by noting sources or utilizing a historian. Two errors stick out. The first is that St. Osyth, if a real person, did in fact marry the man she was bequeathed to and had a son named Offa King of Essex. The second is that Ursula Kemp’s remains have an interesting provenance. Most recently, her presumed remains were reinterred in a sacred burial plot in April 2011. Both should have been considered for inclusion as it would add credibility to the legends and create an emotional fallacy as to why readers should care about these two women.
Though minor, the two errors diminish the owner’s story. Readers are left wondering how much she truly knows or researched about the popular haunted destination. Mitchell still owns the property, although it remains listed for sale. She wisely opines: “I feel lucky to have escaped….”
Buy the book, though. Estep concludes the book by interviewing other teams and individuals who felt the urge to investigate The Cage. Their voices add to the narrative. But buy the book because very few investigations are published. The paranormal community benefits from these publications.
Estep, Richard, and Vanessa Mitchell. Spirits of the Cage: True Accounts of Living in a Haunted Medieval Prison. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., 2017.
 According to Catholic Online, http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4926.
 According to independent filmmaker, http://www.ursulakemp.co.uk/; news organizations, http://www.clactonandfrintongazette.co.uk/news/clacton_frinton_news/14218434.How_Guinness_loving_grandfather_kept_Ursula_Kemp_witch_legend_alive/; and blogs, http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2011/11/bones-of-witch-laid-to-rest-in-essex.html.
Haunted Plank from the Amityville House Makes Travel Channel Debut
Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum returned last month with new episodes. The February 9th episode titled “Amityville Haunting, Ghost Army, and Fugitive Golfer” highlighted a piece of wood from the infamous Amityville Horror house. The demonic possession story was a hoax (see previous 2014 article at https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2014/03/19/amityville-horror-hoax/); however, it doesn’t mean that this piece of wood doesn’t give off bad vibes. It means there may be another story, based on facts, that should be considered.
Interest in Amityville has not ebbed since the 1977 publication of the book, The Amityville Horror. The movie franchise alone has grossed over $170 million dollars. Add TV adaptations and books, and that’s one healthy moneymaker. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the book’s publication. Expect more media coverage.
Given the interest in Amityville, the house makes the requisite rounds on paranormal shows. This is not the first, probably not the last either, time that Travel Channel has showcased the Amityville house. Paranormal Paparazzi (2012) incorporated the house in 3 segments in 2 episodes. One was particularly insightful. Kathy Lutz’s son and George’s step-son Christopher Quaratino claimed that George practiced black witchcraft in the home, causing the paranormal activity to spike. Needless to say, expect more books and versions to emerge.
Greg Newkirk, director of the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and Occult, appeared on the Mysteries at the Museum episode discussing the plank. Greg and Dana Matthews co-founded the website Week in Weird, www.weekinweird.com, in 2007. Both Greg and Dana contribute articles, and postings are weekly. The articles are thought-provoking and quirky, while remaining true to the blog format: concise. The site has advertisements, a source of revenue; however, they don’t disrupt the reading of the articles. They’ve segued their site into 3 entities: Week in Weird (@WeekinWeird), Planet Weird (@WeirdHQ), and The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult (@theparamuseum). In 2013, they created the traveling museum to take their stories and artifacts on the road. They’ve collected artifacts from past paranormal investigations and allow the public to handle them. The museum is the modern-day version of curiosity cabinets which featured oddities and bizarre items and peaked in interest during the Victorian era. Visit http://paramuseum.com/ for 2017 dates and more information.
While it is easy to fall back on popular tales, the paranormal world has so much more to be explored. The Amityville plank is a reminder that the original story was made-up and exaggerated for profit. Instead of focusing on the heinous murders and concocting reasons for a demonic possession, readers should question whether George exploited the murders while practicing black magic. He didn’t move into a haunted house; however, he may have created the negative energy by dabbling in something beyond his comprehension.
Amityville: The Awakening—Release Date Postponed. Again
Originally announced to debut in 2012, Amityville: The Awakening (ATA) has been postponed. Again. This does not bode well for the film, part of the Amityville franchise. Production completed nearly 3 years ago and has endured 7 release date changes. Seven! If this movie does hit the theaters, save your money. The drama surrounding post-production is an indicator that this movie is a dud.
ATA comes 38 years after The Amityville Horror (1979) jolted theater-goers by claiming it was “based on a true story.” With a production budget of $4.7 million dollars, the movie made $86 million in the US alone. As a staple on cable TV stations, the movie continues to generate income. The 1970s ushered in a new form of horror movie: those loosely based on potentially true events. The budget for the 1973 The Exorcist was $12 million dollars. It raked in over $204 million in the United States alone. Likewise, it continues to generate income through cable TV revenue. Arguably, both movies were cutting edge and advanced the horror genre. Most importantly they came from incredibly popular books. Both films successfully bridged the text to celluloid. Although both stories claimed to be based on true events, the stories continue to unravel—more so with Amityville.
The Amityville franchise is successful. By keeping production budgets low, companies can produce a profitable film. This, in turn, leads to more sequels. Not all of them are as successful. This is the case with Amityville. Three motion picture sequels were not as successful. One barely broke even. But the “legend” surrounding the house endures. Unfortunately, it is time to shutter the house and move to a new location.
Initially titled Amityville: The Lost Tapes, this reboot occurs in the infamous Long Island home. The most alert viewer will notice some discrepancies, though. The house is a private residence located at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville. After the film’s release throngs of tourists would linger in the yard. The owners successfully petitioned to change the address to 108 Ocean Avenue in the hopes of confusing tourists. The owners also made extensive renovations to the house so it would not resemble the house at 18 Brooks Road, Toms River, New Jersey, which was used to for filming. Most notably removed were the quarter pie-shaped windows, pretty much the most haunting feature.
The official movie trailer opens with the old house and lots of land around it. The real house sits on a densely populated street with a canal in the back. There is very little similarities between the two.
The story-line could stand on its own. The mental thoughts of “Kill, kill, kill” is the only visible link to the original movie. The producers should have created a new, fresh horror film franchise. I’ll have to wait until June to see it. That’s if 7 release date changes are the charm! Stay tuned!