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.

Lincoln Park ghosts

According to Mysterious Chicago, for almost thirty years, picturesque Lincoln Park served as the City Cemetery, and home to thousands of corpses which some say were never moved. Construction in 1998 alone unearthed 81 bodies!  But experts claim that many bodies were never moved. The Ira Couch tomb still stands on the south end.

In 1837, The state of Illinois gave Chicago a piece of land outside the city limits to use as a burial ground. This land was located in what is now the southern edge of Lincoln Park. From 1843-1859, it served as Chicago’s City Cemetery, including the family-owned lots, Potter’s Field and the Jewish and Catholic cemeteries.  According to sources, There were tens of thousands of burials in the cemetery, many due to cholera outbreaks. During a six-day period in July of 1854 more than 200 cholera victims were buried in the Potter’s

John H. Rauch, who was a doctor, began writing papers about the hazards of the cemetery. Because the grounds were so near the lake and below the water table, the bacteria from the bodies was at risk of seeping into the water supply. Another reason is that the city inhabitants were tired of a cemetery so near where they lived, and they decided they wanted a pretty park along the lake front. In 1869, the city officials passed control of the cemetery grounds, along with the northern 50-acres of unused area of the cemetery property, already used as a park, to the Lincoln Park Commissioners.

Cemeteries such as Graceland, and Rose hill were established because of the over crowding in Lincoln Park.

Bodies were supposedly moved from 1868-1880s, but sources claim only 10 men working to move them. Also, shortly after, the Chicago Fire destroyed many of the markers in the cemetery and graves were missed as well as lost. The only one that was left was the Couch Memorial, which is still in the park.

Many of the haunting s have been witnessed at the Lincoln Zoo staff who have seen ghostly apparitions of people in Victorian dress as well as the same woman in a white dress. She tends to frequent the Lion house but quickly disappears when seen. In 1962 when the Zoos barn was built for farm animals, they found a body when they began digging but left it undisturbed and built over the grave. The director sought instruction from officials on what to do with very little responses. Paranormal activity has been seen in this area of the zoo. Doors slamming and phantom footsteps are constantly heard. Theresa’s Haunted History offers a great explanation of ghosts on You Tube.

Ten of the most haunted colleges in Illinois

Loyola University:    A little over a decade in the early 1900’s when the Chicago Jesuit-affiliated school was known as St. Ignatius College, were the beginnings of a relationship between a nun and Jesuit priest. Apparently, the nun fell pregnant and, the devastated sister reportedly hanged herself on the 14th floor of what is now the school’s Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts (previously Mundelein College). The priest later discovered the nun’s body and was so upset, he committed suicide by jumping out of a window. Students have since reported a flickering glow from the same window. Some have also heard strange sounds like a humming from the room where the nun had hung herself. Others after taking pictures have seen glowing orbs in the photographs.

Benedictine University:  In Lisle, at one point, the University was closed because of so many haunting s. One ghost is a boy in a blue shirt and shorts who wanders the campus and then disappears. According to sources, Jaeger Hall is haunted with children. Two ghost children were actually photographed in Neuzil hall. The campus was originally an orphanage and a girl had drowned in a lake on the grounds.

Rockford University(College): Like many colleges, there are several places on campus that are haunted. Clark Art Center, which is home to two theaters, have had witnesses see lights flicker in the back stage areas as well as hear a bell in the prop room chime on its own. The Adams Arch is actually the doorway to the old Adams Hall building, which was built in 1891 and is another famous place to hear the ghostly laughter of a girl when you are standing under it.

Morton College: In Cicero, just outside of Chicago, many claim that the college is haunted by a young girl who was killed on the Laramie Bridge, not far from the college. According to sources, security have actually seen the ghost of Emily on various rooftops of the college. Others have heard her cry out in the theatre.

Western Illinois University: Numerous hauntings have taken place due to many who committed suicide at the University. Ghosts have been found at Bayliss Hall, Simpkins Hall,Tanner, Thomson and Washington Hall. In 1972, a young man fell down an elevator shaft and his image has been seen today. Many students have observed flickering lights, cold spots, strange noises as well as floating images.

Southern Illinois University: Many books have been published about the hauntings in several buildings of SIU. Wheeler Hall, which was once the university’s library, and Shryock Auditorium are haunted as well. It has been named one of the top 50 haunted colleges throughout the United States. A former mental health institution and nursing home was purchased by the school in 1957. After being called Building 207, it was demolished in 2013 but click on the link for more information concerning the graves that exist today.

University of Illinois In Champaign, the library has been haunted which moved to its current location in 1928. Many believe the main stacks are sinking and images have been seen within them. The Lincoln building has a ghost located on the third floor which is next to the English building which used to be a women’s dormitory where a lady committed suicide. Flashing lights and slamming doors have been seen as well as ghostly visits in the Psychology building.

Milikin University:   James Milikin received a charter to build the Decatur University in 1901 and was to be an off shoot of Lincoln College in Lincoln. It is said that its theater has a ghost called the rail girl probably one of the colleges most popular ghosts. There have been numerous reports of strange sounds and footsteps in the theater. Stagehands and set designers have dealt with disappearance of props used during productions. Generally, tools are missing all the time.  There are also hauntings at the Old Gymnasium that was established in 1911.

Lincoln College: In Lincoln,  the college is rumored to have ghosts in the University Hall that was built in 1866. Mist forms on windows and an actual face was seen in the bell tower. A boy and girl passed away in the late 1800s and many feel that their ghost images remain at the college. In Olin Sang Hall, electronic equipment has been tampered.

Illinois College: In Jacksonville, Illinois was founded in 1829. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain were lecturers at the college during the early years. Illinois College was also known as a station for the Underground railroad and there were many famous graduates over the years such as William Jennings Byan. Beecher Hall claims to be haunted today with the footsteps of Bryan or Abraham Lincoln since he spoke at the college often. Effie Smith often haunts the Smith house. There are many other buildings on campus were lights turn off and on without explanation and images vanish in closets.

 

 

Two of Chicagoland’s haunted restaurants: Red Lion Pub and Country House

The Red Lion Pub has an excellent Shepard’s pie and its decor is one of my favorites……an English manor library with bookshelves filled with books even above the glassware and liqueur at the bar. Walls are complimented with WWI and WWI pictures especially in the Great War room dedicated to his grandfather. Current owner Colin Cordwell has paid homage to his family. The second floor balcony honors his mother who was an expert on African art.

The Red Lion used to be Dirty Dan’s Western Saloon originally built in 1882 and it was a horrible place owned by a gambling, unmanageable alcoholic. John Dillinger saw his last movie at the Biograph Theatre located across the street. But it was John Cordwell who saw the saloon as an opportunity and was remodeled/ opened in 1984.

The Red Lion Pub is on the north side of Chicago at 2446 North Lincoln Avenue. Now a more upscale neighborhood, according to Haunted Houses people have died in the building including a woman who died from an epileptic seizure, a mentally challenged woman, a young cowboy, and another male entity according to ghost experts. These spirits walk the floors of the restaurant to name just a few.

John Cordwell had built a beautiful stained glass window over a stairway and added a plaque to commemorate his dad who died in England. He was buried without a tombstone there. Guests who pass the window actually feel a presence, or are overcome by dizziness which was a condition his father had.

According to Haunted Places, regulars at the pub have heard footsteps and voices, and objects crashing, among other pranks. The phenomena are said to occur when the pub is not very crowded, such as late evenings or Sunday. Nightly spirits offers a ghost tour of the most haunted pubs, and alleys actually leaving from the Red Lion and walking the same path that Dillinger did before he died. Drinks are not included in the ticket price.

One of my favorite burgers on dark rye while enjoying a rustic atmosphere and a beautiful fireplace in the bar area is served at the Country House in Clarendon Hills; a family friendly restaurant I have frequented for over 30 years and even their website talk about the famous ghost. The Country House is a two story building erected in 1922 as a place for locals to congregate for drinks, food, and good conversation.

In 1974 during a meeting with a contractor to renovate the restaurant the men were sitting in the bar and shutters on the windows opened without human contact displaying shafts of light. Other workers have seen dishes move and have heard moaning in the walls. Others have actually seen a woman who they call the lady in blue.

The Country House has gone through a number of ownership changes over the years and is currently owned by two local residents who purchased it in 1974 according to the Clarendon Hills Historical Society.  It’s the late 1950s, and the story begins like so many others – with a bartender and a pretty blonde. On this particular evening, the woman visited her regular establishment. After a few choice words with her lover, a fight erupted that greatly upset her. The woman was so hurt by the exchange and the actions of her lover that she left in huff. Unfortunately, the roads were as uncaring she collided with a tree or a telephone poled a short distance from The Country House. While she might have perished in the accident on that fateful night, she lives on through her daughter and the legend of The Country House.” Some say she had a daughter with her And the lover went after her.

Richard Crowe, Chicago’s famous ghosthunter, was asked to come in for a consultation. He brought in two self-professed mediums who claimed to “feel” the presence of a young woman looking for something or someone she had lost. They went on to describe the woman as blonde, good looking, in her late twenties, and someone who died in the late fifties of abdominal injuries and this is discussed on the Country House Restaurant website.

Chicago’s Most Haunted: The Iroquois Theatre/The Oriental

The most devastating theatre fire in history happened on December 30th 1903. Over 600 people died which were mostly woman and children during a matinee performance of Mr. Bluebird.  Many Chicagoan’s did not think a fire of such magnitude could ever happen again since many had lived through the Great Chicago fire. This building was built to be fireproof.

However, A Day in History comments  that at the same time the fire inspector and Chicago’s building commissioner claims that the Iroquois was fireproof, the editor of Fireproof magazine inspected the theater and wrote an article that there were major fire alarm issues including no alarm and sprinkler system.

The Iroquois opened just shortly before on November 23rd of that year and was located on West Randolph between State and Dearborn. The theatre had a capacity of approximately 1,600 seats with three audience levels that included a main floor with orchestra that offered about 700 seats. The second floor had about 400 seats and the gallery or balcony areas had about 500 seats. The backstage area was extensive with emergency doors that remained locked the day of the fire. The theatre had only one public exit.

The December 30th 1903 matinee performance drew a huge crowd since so many children were out of school celebrating the holidays. It was about 3:15. Strange, how that time was very close to the same time only 50 plus years later when the most historic school fire broke out at Chicago’s Our Lady of Angels School on the south side. A fire, I  was alive to see and never forget.

During the second act, sparks from an arc light ignited a curtain. Stagehands tried to put out the fire but it had spread mainly to the fly gallery high above the stage. The stage manager tried to lower a fire curtain on the stage to block the fire from the audience but what they thought a fireproof stage curtain snagged and was flammable. The stage doors had bascule locks which protected people from not entering from the outside but nobody knew how to open them. Many were killed by being trapped especially in the balconies.

There were no exit signs, no emergency lighting, no iron fire escape and locked exit routes that nervous ushers forgot to unlock. The burned out theatre  was completely demolished and in the 1920’s, the Ford, Oriental Theatre was built with beautiful art Deco decor design and great access to bathrooms/ emergency doors designed by the firm Rapp and Rapp. Exceptionally different from the interior before and still safely operating today.

However, as elegant as the Oriental is, many ghost experts say that there is a real presence there because it was a site of such tragedy and death including David Cowan author of To Sleep with the Angels and his wife, author and 30-year veteran and paranormal researcher Ursula Bielski who host Chicago haunting tours

Especially behind the theatre, many have called the alley… Death Alley, because it is there that the most haunting s have been sited including a child crying. Other ghost experts claim that there tour groups continually experience sounds and apparitions today. It was also here in the alley during the 1903 fire that the corpses of so many tragically burned victims were piled and arranged to be eventually removed.

Others have felt cold spots and have actually been touched by unseen hands!