Five of the most haunted Illinois towns and tours

Alton: The city is actually considered the one of the most haunted towns in America according to Meeting of the Great Rivers. Alton is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and visitors including hunters have seen orbs of light in various places throughout the town. Through the years, many travelers have investigated and inquired about the unexplained happenings and psychic phenomena found throughout Alton.  Several locations that are noted to be extremely haunted, including the infamous McPike Mansion, The First Unitarian Church, and Milton School, have been featured on television shows on the Travel Channel and Syfy Channel. Alton tours is offered by Alton Haunting and tickets are on sale.

Naperville: Naperville has been known as one of the best cities in the US to live but according to Mysterious Heartland, one of the most haunted. A massive train wreck took place in 1946 where two passenger trains collided. Forty seven people were killed and one hundred and twenty five were injured. Many still ghosts or shadows walking on Loomis Street. Buildings at North Central College are also haunted as well as ghosts sited at the Naperville cemetary. Check out Naperville ghost Charlie Yellow Boots who walk the streets and the historic streets are supposedly EMF active.  Naperville Ghosts provides an interesting tour with Kevin Frantz who has also written two books about the Naperville Ghosts and actual encounters.

Galena: Ghost stories have been circulating since 1880 and according to Visit Galena, were actually written in local newspapers back then. The Lady in Black is said to haunt the DeSoto House in downtown Galena and one guest actually has a photograph of her. There has been many natural disasters in the valley but a great deal of historic preservation in Galena which tends to bring on the spirits according to many. Embe Eatery and Lounge has witnessed flying objects and the library at Ryan Mansion is something very strange for those looking for ghosts. Amelia Ghost Tours offer a great evening along with dinner theatre tickets available. Matthews Haunted Pub Crawl leads those to three historic pubs to visit ghosts located in downtown Galena. Ghost equipment is used on both tours.

Decatur: There are many stories of hauntings in Decatur, but few that have received as much attention in the general public at the time of their appearances as the “black ghost,” which there are reports of as far back as 1880 according to the Herald Review. Just south of the main highway in Decatur is the Greenwood Cemetary where people have a young woman crying on a set of stairs and orbs of light. Or visit Avon Theatre which has also been known to have spooky encounters. During the 1920’s, Decatur was known for bootlegging, gambling, prostitution, murder bringing violence which many felt contributed to spiritual drama.  Like Alton Tours, the same company runs the tours called Haunted Decatur.

St Charles: Hotel Baker is a hot spot for ghosts since sources claim that a chamber maid killed herself in the Fox River though there are no records of the suicide. Created in 1928, Hotel Baker was an elegant hotel that included the Rainbow Room, a two-story ballroom encircled by columns that featured a dancing floor and famous entertainers such as Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk. Since the hotel has been restored, it continues to be a choice of luxury. And the Arcadia Theatre in downtown St Charles is another haunted building where the lights go on and off. The Dunham-Hunt Museum is supposedly by Jane Dunham who is believed to have lost some of her personal items while the house operated as a museum. St Charles Ghost Tours is the place to contact for an amazing history.

More ghosts in DuPage County

Tivoli Theater: According to Ursula Bielski, in Chicago Haunts, Downers Grove’s Tivoli theater was the location of a tragic fire set by a pyromaniac many years ago.  According to the story, the subject set the fire but was trapped in the backstage area and died. However, the remains were never found and the worker never was heard of again. People have seen a strange mist rise by the curtain in front of the movie screen. To this day, they have no logical explanation for the mist.

Emmets Brewing Company: Nick Vogel from the Suburban Life shares a story of a janitor who worked after hours at Emmets, located on Main street in Downtown Downers Grove. The man accidentally fell asleep in a booth and something woke him grabbing his leg and then something touched his arm. He saw an apparition that moved to wall which is bordered by the cemetery next door. He hears noises and doors slamming all the time and he feels it is a spirit from the Main street cemetery which began in 1859, interring many war veterans. However, all interments are not known, but those which are,  they are mentioned in the booklet “Voices That Are Gone” by the village Historical Society, and for sale by them.

Country House: 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 talks about the famous ghost.

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.

Leland Tower:  In Aurora, Leland Tower was built as a hotel in 1926 and even had telephones in the rooms. It was a twenty two story building; one of the tallest outside of Chicago. Topping the skyscraper, was the Sky Club, a dinner and dancing club outfitted with elaborate decor and furnishings of the highest quality. But in the 1960’s is became an apartment building. Many suicides have occurred over the years with jumping to ones death in the Fox River. According to Ghost Stories World, elevator banks are very mysterious at night. Eerie moaning sounds are heard from there sometimes. Foul ghastly odor smells throughout the building on those spooky nights. Some of those folks who lived there admitted that Aurora is haunted. They felt weird several times. Always sensed like being watched by uncanny presences or have seen a mysterious cat who really scared some of them.

Old Copely Hospital: The hospital was established in 1888 and had about 25 beds. In 1995, the new Rush-Copley Medical Center was constructed and the Old Copley Hospital closed. The hospital currently is in bad shape due to a poor asbestos problem and massive decay. According to sources, some who had stayed at the hospital, it is rumored to be haunted. Some have seen apparitions and the guest visits of a nun. In the news this week, developers would like to bring the hospital back to life instead of demolishing it forever. What about the ghosts then?

 

Ghost hunting: Mother Rudd

By Caryl Clem:

Halloween Night legends, rumors

Next door house, forbidden territory

October 31,1958, perfect time to explore

Myth or truth about ghost luminosity.

Uninhabited upper floor floating, flickering light

Spied as I press face against window at night.

Clothesline Northern Star quilt swinging

Nobody home, windless day, unhinging

Constantly looking for clues

“Are there ghosts ?” I muse

 

Five kids, huddle on the walk there

Look for ghosts, taunting friends dare

Mix bravery with  natural curiosity

Stay behind after Trick or Treat

Check out the barn as we hit the street.

 

Barn’s looming shadow swallows me

Wooden slats apart like missing teeth

Stepping inside a visible gap in the wall

Suddenly swirling, pushing cold air squall

Terrified, I run  away from the barn,

Temperature change, the air warms

Above in a second floor window, a bright single light

Shining a path home through the dark night.

 

Across shared narrow driveway

Neighbors Halloween Flashlight Treasure Hunt underway

“Why are you so late?”

“Nothing, bathroom stop”, I state.

Still no concrete answers to  my question

About Mother Rudd’s apparitions

Until paranormal investigation

McHenry Paranormal County Research Group

Documented findings ,the real scoop

Electromagnetic meter readings support

Paranormal activity claims, proven

Fogged then clear picture images taken

Shadows within a room report

Spirits refusing to be forgotten.

 

Temperance Tavern-Gurnee Stagecoach Inn

Under a woman’s management in Gurnee, a Temperance Tavern opened in 1843 replacing alcohol with popular beverages such as coffee, tea, milk, ginger beer, lemonade, peppermint water and raspberry vinegar.  Widowed business woman, Wealthy B. Harvey with several local women managed the kitchen and lodging accommodations. The inn was within sight of the intersection of two major roads by a river crossing bridge. Meals and a bed were conveniently located for travelers going in any direction.

She was considered a lady of influence, supporting community affairs using her inn as Town Hall for elections, and meetings. In 1856, Wealthy married Erastus Rudd who managed the farm land surrounding the stagecoach stop. As the reputation of the inn grew, residents fondly called the House-” Mother Rudd’s”. Customers raved about winter sleighing parties or her fancy Christmas dinners featuring rare oysters and specialty pastries.  As Union supporters, Rudd’s assisted The Underground Railroad by hiding slaves.  Stone boulder foundation framed with two story red barn slats. During the restoration of Mother Rudd’s, hiding cervices between walls and a secret door by a waiter’s station support Underground Railroad claims.

The barn was leveled filling in the ground around it for safety in the early 1960’s.   In the 1950’s while living in back of Rudd’s House, the barn with partial board walls and barricaded barn door looked to me like a great place to search.  Stories of fugitive slaves were whispered at the grade school within sight of spooky barn.  To stop my curiosity, Dad and I walked to the barn. Holding my hand, eyeing several deep caving in holes in the floor, he said, “You can’t play here because you could fall in and never be found.”

Since 1984, The Village of Gurnee maintains the land and building while The Warren Township Historical Society runs the museum, tours and collection of pertinent materials for the historical landmark.

Investigators claim ghosts haunt Gurnee house by Abby Scaff  Daily Herald Corresponden

“ the ghost meter” is one of the tools Tony Olszewski of the McHenry County Paranormal Research Group used while investigating Mother Rudd Home for spiritual presence…mysterious jagged streaks of light appear in some photos…images of the 170-year-old..residence appear blurred while the next shot is clear…other photos show luminous orbs appearing in different shapes. over 1,200 photos were taken…recordings can hear a sigh or a whisper…within the barn ..energy that is fear, hope, warmth….. …feelings of a runaway slave.  “

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.

 

 

Chicago’s Most Haunted Houses: Hull House and Glessner House

The Jane Addams Hull House Museum is worth a trip to see whether are looking for a ghost or not. Jane Addams founded, with Ellen Gates Starr, the world famous Hull House on Chicago’s west side. Jane Addams lived their until her death in 1935 where she established a kindergarten and day care facilities for children of working mothers as well as providing classes. Some of the classes included preparing for citizenship, theater, music and art.

The Museum is located in two of the original settlement house buildings- the Hull Home, a National Historic Landmark, and the Residents’ Dining Hall, a beautiful Arts and Crafts building that has welcomed some of the world’s most important thinkers, artists and activists. Located on the second floor of the Residents’ Dining Hall, the museum’s gift shop has a range of ecologically and socially sustainable gifts including all natural hand soap, t-shirts, books about Jane Addams and the Reformers of Hull-House, and other items that you can only find at Hull-House.

The Museum is closed on Mondays and Saturdays and public tours are available without a reservation unless you have a group of ten or more.  Hull House Museum is located at the University of Illinois /Chicago at 800 S. Halsted.

According to Prairie Ghosts, at the time that Jane Addams took over Hull house she thought it was haunted and writes about this in her book Twenty Years at Hull House. She had heard loud footsteps in her room which was where the previous own Mrs. Charles Hull had passed away and she then took a different room.  Local legend claims that a deformed baby was born in the houses called the Devil baby and some claim to have seen the ghostly figure of the disfigured child who was suppose to have horns. The movie Rosemary’s Baby actually was created from the parts of this legend.

Over the years, I have enjoyed strolling Prairie Avenue in Chicago and reading about the life and times of the rich and famous during the late 1880’s, researching stories of Marshall Field, who lived in a six block section of the street only for the elite. This also included George Pullman, John Glessner and Pillip Armour. Prairie avenue was sometimes called Milionaires row and the beautiful Glessner House/Museum still stands and available for tours.

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.

However, is a ghost and many visitors continue to see his apparition.

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.

Many say it is haunted too.

Chicago’s Most Haunted: Eastland Disaster

This summer I took a trip to Michigan City, Indiana and spent a few minutes in Washington Park by the lake having no idea at the time that over 100 years ago the S.S. Eastland ship was suppose to arrive with Western Electric employees and their families to  celebrate a summer picnic.  It never happened.  After researching the Eastland Disaster, I returned to the park again imagining its beauty in 1915.

It.was an ideal location that offered various attractions according to the Eastland Disaster Historical Society including a roller coaster, electric merry-go-round, dancing pavilion, picnic grounds, baseball park, bathing beach with bath houses, band stand/gazebo, bowling alleys, amusement park, and photo studio. Though today, still beautiful, Washington Park has less attractions and activities including women dressed in hats, stockings, long dresses and the men dressed in suits and ties on the beach.

Western Electric picnics began in 1913 and really took off with over 6,000 attending where attendees boarded several ships in Chicago docked near the Clark Street Bridge for a leisurely trip to Michigan City across the lake for the picnic. On July 24th, 1915 the Eastland along with other ships began boarding at 6:30 am. Five thousand people had arrived for the excursion.

Because the Eastland was late the prior year in arriving at Washington Park, the owners decided it would be the first to depart. They were quick to board the passengers at a rate of about 50 per minute. At approximately 7:10, the Eastland reached capacity of 2,500. The engines started about 5 minutes before with a light list to port.  Attempts were made to move passengers to starboard but they did not follow the directions.  The list becomes worst and valves are opened to fill the no. 2 and 3 starboard ballast tanks. Water eventually enters the Eastland through the port gangways and a warning signal is sounded.

The Eastland tries again moving away from the wharf. The angles of the list reaches 45 degrees and everything begins to slide with water pouring in through portholes on the main deck. Passengers are rushing to the staircases which becomes not an exit but a death trap. The list worsens. Passengers and crew members jump off from fear of being trapped. The Eastland finally rolls in the Chicago River and 844 people are killed.

Today, paranormal investigators have found activity between the Clark and LaSalle bridges and people have reported screams and orbs in photographs. But the Armory where bodies from the Eastland were taken to be transported to funeral homes and used for family identification which was Harpo Studios where Oprah Winfrey taped her show, was haunted for years.

Oprah and her staff continued to see shadows which some have called the Grey lady; they think the ghost was of a mother who has lost her child. However,demolition of the Harpo campus took place in 2016 which will make way for a new building that thousands of McDonald’s corporate employees will call home in 2018.

Is the site still haunted?

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!