1976 Historic Image Captures “Ghost” and Goes Viral
In 1976, Charles W. Nelson took a photograph from the rear of “Cedarhurst” for the Minnesota Historical Society. Thirty-eight years later, the image went viral on the Internet.
Originally a farmhouse, the home was converted into a summer retreat in 1886. Mary Frances Harriman inherited the property from her grandfather, Charles Oramel Fanning (1800-1888). Celebrated architect Cass Gilbert expanded the retreat designing the mansion for Cordenio Arnold and Mary Frances Harriman Severance. He called the house “Cedarhurst.” Construction covered the years 1911-1917. In the end, the home totaled 12,000 square feet. The 26-room mansion was built in the Neoclassical Revival style and included twin classical columned porticoes, formal ball room, and rose garden.
Cordenio A. Severance
Severance was a corporate litigator who served as the 44th President of the American Bar Association. Severance and his wife hosted 4 presidents at “Cedarhurst.” This mansion was opulent. He and his wife lived in the home until 1925, when they died with no surviving heir. The mansion stood abandoned for many, many years. The house changed hands and fell into disarray. Located at 6940 Keats Avenue South, Cottage Grove, Minnesota, “Cedarhurst” was added to the National Registry of Historic Places on June 3, 1976.
In 2001, the Thao family purchased the property for $900,000. Investing another $250,000, the family restored the massive home and now runs it as an entertainment venue. But the story continues.
According to Examiner.Com writer John Albrecht, Jr. a member on Reddit posted this image this past Saturday, November 8th, claiming that a ghost is standing on the back patio (http://www.examiner.com/article/ghostly-figure-found-on-national-register-of-historic-places-photo). “Midwester” discovered the image while going through historic images (http://www.reddit.com/r/Ghosts/comments/2lmyvw/i_was_looking_through_photos_on_the_national/). Posters were polite and offered various explanations. Most felt it was a statue. However, one felt that it looked out-of-place. One was confused because the yard was overgrown and asked if the home was inhabited. Although this is a great image of an aging mansion, the “figure” is not a ghost.
The image is too solid and too consistent to be an apparition. Few have captured a full-length figure of an apparition. These are rare. Moreover, apparitions do not present whole or complete like the one here. This figure is too solid looking. Finally, the figure seems to be draped in a cloth.
Let me provide some historical context. This home was an opulent mansion. It was built in a style that incorporated statues, draperies, and lots of ornate items. Presidents visited. This mansion oozed high society. Large statues may have stood beside the classical columned porticos. Since it is winter, the statues may have been relocated inside for preservation.
By the time the photograph was taken, the home changed hands several times. It was deteriorating. The interior contents may have been packaged up.
Finally, I cannot locate any stories proclaiming “Cedarhurst” as haunted. The Internet is quiet on this. Even “Midwester” conceded that this was the only image with the anomaly. Unfortunately, this image does not contain a ghost.