Prairie Avenue ghosts

I love to walk up and down the historic avenue. I have read many historical novels such as Prairie Avenue by Arthur Meeker.  Its always a new field trip to walk with the ghosts on Millionaires Row and to read about them. Residents of the street have influenced the evolution of the city and have played prominent national and international roles moving there after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. By 1886, the finest mansions in the city, each equipped with its own carriage house, stood on Prairie Avenue. In the 1880s, mansions for George Pullman, Marshall Field, John J. Glessner, Philip Armour and Kimball. Mansions were located between 16th and 22nd streets.

A few of the mansions do remain such as the Glessner House which is a active museum and the Henry B. Clarke house, also a museum. The Marshall Field, Jr. Mansion at 1919 South Prairie Avenue, now condos, is marvel of preservation and sensitive reuse. And many say that Prairie Avenue is haunted.

Glessner House was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887. So different from the Victorian houses that were being built at the time and eventually those, for the most part, were torn down. The House is a National Historic Landmark and offers wonderful tours with many of the rooms accurately restored to their original appearance and decorative objects and furnishings have been added by the Glessner family. John Glessner lived there until 1936 and thousands tour the house every year.

Henry Hobson Richardson never got to see his creation built since he died after he completed the blue prints. Many have seen him walk the halls. Even during the time the Glessner family lived there, Haunted houses.com  claim that many family member felt a cold presence moving through the mansion,even today.

The Glessner House Museum offers haunted tours of historic Prairie Avenue. Director of the Glessner House has admitted that there is a strange feeling that has been experienced on the street. The Keith House, privately owned by Marcy Baim, is another on the street. It has been restored, at 1900 Prairie and offers special events such as weddings.

The Kimball House: The house was built in 1890–92 for William Wallace Kimball, a piano manufacturer. I still have a Kimball upright that was built in 1949.  Kimball reportedly spent $1,000,000 on the home. The house is located at 1801 Prairies and though some feel that the outside design is cold, the inside is beautiful with maple floors and 29 rooms which have been sub- divided though many have stayed the same such as the library, huge drawing room, and dining room that housed Mrs. Kimballs massive silver collection. She also collected many paintings by such artists as Rembrandt, Millet, and Monet including many others. But when Mrs Kimball died in 1921, the house was converted to a boarding house which eventually failed and was bought by Daisy Hull for 8,000 in backward children. But finally, the house, along with the Coleman house at 1811 were acquired by R. R. Donnelley in 1973 who donated them to the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 1991.  They leased and then sold the properties to the U. S. Soccer Federation for use as their national headquarters, which is how the building is used today. Mrs Kimball still walks the halls. Noises have been heard along with apparitions seen as well as the feeling of being watched.

The Marshall Field Jr House: According to Curbed Chicago, Designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman, the home sold to the son of one of Chicago’s most famous 19th century entrepreneurs for $65,000 in 1890. After a stint as a psychiatric hospital, the structure was sold to the Chicago Architectural Foundation in the 1970s before being partitioned into condominiums in 2007. There are six million dollar condos with a private courtyard in the back. In the past, there have been claims to hear footsteps and strange cries.

Find out more about the Shadows on the Street: Haunted Tours of Historic Prairie Avenue Glessner House 1800 South Prairie Avenue Chicago, IL, 60616 United States.  During this 60 minute walking tour through the Prairie Avenue Historic District, learn about the mystery surrounding the death of Marshall Field Jr., the tragic events that plagued the Philander Hanford house, the lingering ghost of Edson Keith, and more.

Chicago’s only Irish castle

I have attended a wedding back in the 1980’s. My mother lived not far from the castle during her elementary years of school in Beverly.  The castle was built on Longwood drive and 103rd, three stories high, with crenelated towers of limestone. Known as the Givens Castle, it was to look like a real Irish Castle from Dublin.

The south side Chicago castle was built between 1866-1867 under the direction of Robert C. Givins. According to Beverly Unitarian Church Fellowship, which purchased the church in 1942,  originally the castle had fifteen beautifully furnished rooms. They were decorated with rich tapestries, elegant chandeliers, and big copper gaslights; they were warmed with tiled fireplaces and were lit with stained glass windows.

There were five owners, or some say, castle keepers of the building. The Givins family, the Chicago Female College, the Burdett family, the Siemens family, and finally Beverly Unitarian Church. The Givins family lived there on and off from 1887 to 1909. The Chicago Female College, a prestigious high school for girls, rented the Castle from 1895 to 1897. The Burdett family lived in the Castle from 1909 to 1921. The Siemens family lived in the Castle from 1921 to 1942. Today, the Commission for Chicago Landmarks have claimed the house as Chicago’s only castle.

But after my mother would drive me by her old home in Beverly in the 1960’s, she would take me by the castle and claim,that it was haunted, according to her father. We attended a wedding together in later years and I didn’t see a ghost, neither did she, but some still claim that within the castle, they have heard mysterious sounds such as the tinkling of glasses with no logical reason.

According to Prairie Ghosts and my Mom, a young girl had died from the flu back in the 1930’s when the castle was owned by the Chicago Female College. In the early 1960’s,the janitor of the church saw a young girl and actually talked to her. She seemed confused and mentioned that the church was not the  same. The custodian was sitting with her and then got up to walk away, turned back to approach the young girl and she was gone.  Legend and my Mom claim that this girl was the ghost of the one who died and was in shock, especially not realizing that this castle was now a church. The custodian searched everywhere and the girl was not found, even footsteps in the snow outside did not appear that day.

Ghostly sightings in Crystal Lake

By CARYL CLEM:

Ghost curiosity, about unexplained mysteries of paranormal activity grows as digital equipment and better camera equipment captures proof of the apparitions. Unexpected, often dreaded, an uninvited visitor appears floating then dissolving into a wall, air, or sky. Transparent figures not held by physical boundaries, some make noises, move objects, slam doors, emit smells of  perfume or smoke, others are moving orbs of light, or cast a shadow turning into a green mists.

Experts classify ghosts into 5 main groups:

  • Interactive Personality that portrays a loved one or famous person.
  • Ectoplasm or Ecto-Mist a vaporous form that rises from the ground usually white or green.
  • Poltergeist has the ability to make sounds and move physical items whose energy can increase to dangerous levels.
  • Orbs are balls of translucent light most often photographed among ghost hunters.
  • Funnel ghosts, swirling forms spied in buildings and landmark structures.

For the ghost believer or doubter, YouTube offers several videos that capture the essence of ghost hunting online.  Crystal Lake is 50 miles from Chicago and has a history dating back to 1836. Crystal Lake has 7 acclaimed haunting locations.

1.  The Dole Mansion constructed from 1858-1864 owned by a prominent businessman Charles Grain and ice baron member on the Chicago Board of Trade. After the civil war, the imposing Italian style mansion on the beach of Crystal Lake includes servant quarters and a stable for racing horses. Another family, Ringling circus owners, bought the property,  converting the estate to a country club. The Depression closed the their doors but now as historical landmark.

The Haunted Dole Mansion Crystal Lake, Illinois – YouTube

2.  Colonel Palmer House an over 150 year old Greek Revival architecture has been rumored to have faces of beaten children peering out basement windows while screams can be heard in the air. A story was created about an orphanage with a mean man in charge except no record exists of an orphanage on that property.

3.  Barnes and Noble Bookstore claim a ghostly patron lady who can be seen rocking in the back storeroom or who invisibly moves carts of books around the store. Items mysteriously disappear to be found later. An elderly lady willed her land to a church to be used as a site for a school. The land was sold for other purposes.

4.  Fountains of Crystal Lake have had several reports of following wispy figures traveling down upper floor hallways to reach a dead end where the translucent form dissolves through a wall, while leaving one can hear footsteps behind them. It has been reported that on a checkerboard upstairs, pieces move without human assistance. Basement visitors feel a chill in the air, and report strong sensations of being watched.

5.  Lake Avenue Cemetery is rumored to be haunted by a women committing suicide; setting herself on fire.

6.  Park in Covered Bridge Trails has witnesses reporting activity by the stream of various orbs of light.

7.  Mount Thabor Cemetery has frequent witness reports of swirling orbs, associated with the symbol of a human soul. Luminous multicolored balls of red, green, and white have been photographed. Several sightings describe an eerie green mist. Check out more from USA Today

If an entire day of ghost hunting sounds daunting, Crystal Lake offers an array of activities to explore from the  quaint downtown, modern shopping centers, restaurants, golf course,  amidst scenic views of Crystal Lake.  What To Do with 15 Landmark Preservation homes and various water sports at Three Oaks Recreation Area is just a sample of what is available.  A Heritage Trolley Tour is offered in June.