A Haunting Portrait

 

Once upon a time …

My mother had a picture of a woman that had been given to her as a wedding gift. She said it probably had  been purchased at the local five and dime store. Green was her favorite color. The woman in the picture’s features, to her, were like a mirrored image of her own and for that reason, she adored it. She told of how it had hung on her bedroom wall for a few years when one day she became disturbed by it following a dream she had and realized there was something morbid about it.

The dark haired, green eyed lady in a fancy mint green dress complete with matching frilly parasol stood peering from the portrait. A group of dark figures with black umbrellas were gathered behind her. The face of the woman was void of expression and non chalant. The era appeared to be late 1800s.  Given the  dark figures and umbrellas, it must have looked something like this …

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The woman from the portrait appeared in the dream to be a witch , amidst children, a piano and a black cat.

A large piano sat in the living room. It wasn’t her living room but that of her beloved grandmother where she had spent much of her childhood. A living room in a house that would later become known to possess spirits of many ancestors over the years. A fancy piano did sit there in reality, as well. A portrait sat upon it in the dream and revealed a woman with dark hair and green eyes. A black cat suddenly appeared walking across the piano, away from the portrait.

She stood wondering where the cat came from. It appeared to have just walked right out of the portrait. Then someone ran into the house, screaming that there was a woman outside scaring the children. Her eyes were still fixed on the black cat as it jumped down off the piano and ran towards the back door. She followed it, out and into the backyard where children were screaming. The woman was hiding. Suddenly, all was still and calm.

Then, from out of nowhere the woman was coming towards her to attack her. She put her hands around the womans neck and began choking her. She realized in a moment that she couldnt hurt her as it felt as though her neck became nothing more than a wooden broomstick in her hands. The woman disappeared.

She began walking slowly towards a wooded area (in reality it was her backyard) to look for her. There were four large oak trees that lifted there roots from the ground and began walking backwards away from her with earth cracking and sounds of thunder.

Upon awaking from the dream, my mother was saying the words aloud that she needed to get rid of that piano. She realized she didnt have a piano and looked at the portrait on the wall. Looking at it more closely she saw something she hadn’t noticed before though it had always been there. While the woman stared so deeply from the portrait without emotion, she was sure it was a funeral gathering and so she got rid of the portrait.

My sister and I have tried for many years to locate the gloomy portrait that our mother told us about. We have never been able to find it, even with the wealth of visual treasures online at our fingertips.

The image of the lady in black strolling along the grounds at an abandoned funeral home reminds me of my mother’s haunting portrait, as it did her. I still hope someday to find it. 

 

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A house is a place of shelter. Its the body we put on over our own bodies. As our bodies grow old, so do our houses. As our bodies may sicken, so do our houses sicken. And what of madness? If mad people lived within, doesn’t this madness creep into the rooms? And walls? And corridors? The very boards? Isn’t that a large part of what we mean when we say a place is unquiet and festered up with spirits? We say haunted, but what we really mean is that the house has gone insane.

Stephen King (Rose Red)

 

 

Theres a house on Meriwether Street that is unquiet and festered up with spirits. Its haunting structure stands tall though its walls crumble. Once a hospitable keeper of life, it became a funeralistic host to death. Abandoned for many years. Desolate at the hands of time. It has never really been empty. It reaches out. Come. Let me show you.

 

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It was on a sunset evening in August of 2010 that I stopped by this house for an evening I would never ever forget. The skies darkened and this place came alive with a supernatural greeting like out of a horror movie.

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That the vision of a woman, however twisted, had revealed itself twice through imagery prior to that visit, seemed not to be coincidental. Logically, there was never a question as to whether a woman was really there or not physically, for she was definitely not.

Perhaps she existed about these grounds at some point in time and her spirit is captured on film in these strange ways. Who can say as a matter of fact just how a spirit or apparition of one may or may not appear on film?

We gaze into photographs and can sometimes see things that are not logically there, while other times we do not see things that are, until quite some time later. Who can capture a spirit, or the essence of one, on film? If one ever did, who would believe it to be genuinely that? Whats more important, is what would it look like?

 

If certain images become apparent to you in a photograph, in whatever strange manner, could it be possible that they are somehow a reflection, both spiritually and atmospherically, of a place or time in that location’s history? These are questions with many different answers based mainly on what one believes or does not believe.

It was in October 2007 that I began with a discussion about the house at 522 Meriwether Street on a paranormal website called Chasing Midnight. Sharing a haunting allure it seemed to emit on passing it each day for work.

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Courtesy of Google Earth, I had grabbed some photos to post with the article as these are captured in a split second of time and standing still, not unlike any other photograph.

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The aerial shot of the ground was quite fascinating. It caught the eye immediately how *eerily close* that the girl’s group home located next door, actually sat situated in proximity to the structure and the grounds.

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While zooming into the photograph, something else catches the eye. The image of a woman. It is called Pareidolia when something appears in a photo that can’t possibly be a part of the picture, due to size, proximity, etc, and such is the case here.

The image of the woman appears to be walking along the front grounds in a long black dress with an open parasol. Dark hair appears to be pinned up.

One may see her, or one may not, as has been the case as this photograph has made its way into several discussions about it.

Interestingly, someone else saw the vague image of a child elsewhere in the same photograph. Boy or girl, is uncertain but wearing either a gown or uniform it appears.

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An old antique photo seems to peek out from atop the trees.

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Hmmnnn… What have we here?

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I happened to work at this time with someone who also worked part-time at the group home located next door to the house. She could never see the figure of a woman in a black dress in the above photo, nor anything in any of the other images.

I once asked her if any of the girls (who would come and go routinely) were to ever say anything about the old funeral home, and she said ‘ they’ll say they see lights coming on over there, and some say they see a woman, especially in that front window’, but that she herself, had seen nothing.

I dropped by there with her once to peek in some windows as she checked on something at the group home. She said to me ‘Why don’t you just go in the front door, its probably not locked’, to which I replied back that only if she would come with me…. ‘Oh no way’, she said!

They’d been asked at the group home to ‘keep an eye on the place’ by a woman (real estate/owner) that would check in over there once in a while.

I spoke with my friend about coming over sometime when she would be working to less worry about getting into any trouble and could walk around the grounds but that never did happen.

and time passed … hauntingportrait10

It would be my favorite writer Stephen King who would inspire me to actually go over there for a reason. He presented a photo submission project asking for photos taken around our hometowns with relation to his name and his works.

The house immediately came to mind and wonders of how to connect it to his books or movies. Selected photos would be a part of a Stephen King ‘Virtual Empire’ forthcoming.

It was a hot Friday evening in August of 2010, the 27th , as my sister and I stopped by the house to briefly observe it for ideas for photo submissions. We had just been two streets over taking some photos in an old house equipped with props of an ax and a black cat, same project with a different theme.

Temperatures were extremely high and there was not even a slight breeze in the air, it was extremely suffocating hot.

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When we first arrived my sister refused to get out of the car, not because she was afraid or thought it was haunted, but because she was taken by its size and overall appearance. She didn’t want us to be there for too long. The sun was beginning to go down. She began taking pictures of it from the car.

I successfully got her to get out of the car by asking her to take just one picture of me out in front of the house. The winds had began to stir up when she stepped out of the car . They became increasingly stronger as huge dark clouds were moving in swiftly above us and above the house! 

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The winds began to actually howl and scream! Our hair was blowing wildly.  All of a sudden there were bats everywhere! They filled the skies in a massive swarm and just showered the house and the grounds! There was an incredible energy in the air. A kind of unseen force. There was an adrenaline rush and I was just pacing back and forth in front of the house! I can only describe it as an outdoor poltergeist. I’ve never been a believer in the orb theory, but thats not the moon up there.  

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Only moments of the experience were captured on video. It is very telling and atmospheric and can be accessed online at the following address:

http://s882.photobucket.com/albums/ac30/Sightingsx/?action=view&current=sk113.mp4

The winds became so powerful and engulfed with bats that we had to leave! Our teens who’d been waiting in the car found the scenario from an inside looking out to be pretty crazy but found our reactions to it to be amusing. The wind was so strong that it was difficult to even get to the car!

Somewhere in the less than five minute ride home, the wind had ceased and all was calm. A kind of storm that never really came, had ended.

We would see something immediately in the film that we did not see at the time. A very obviously lit window. A lit window in an abandoned and otherwise dark place with absolutely no power. A lit window that in certain fractions of seconds, there would also appear to be movements. Ever noticed how most portraits or depictions of creepy ‘haunted houses’ will always have ‘one lit window’? Check that out, its true!

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The window that appears to be lit up, is the same front window I’d been told about with regard to ‘lights coming on’ and ‘a woman being seen’ there.

A reflection perhaps and nothing more. A reflection from somewhere, somehow.

There was a light on in the front window so I began looking into it, for a woman.

She’s there at the window sill and appears to be looking out. Captured in a still from the film at 29 seconds in that short footage. Do you see her?

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What was chilling about these window stills and seeing what they revealed, was knowing the vast amount of paranormal activity that was occurring at the house in those exact moments!

Along with stills and footage, many photographs of the house were being observed as the idea for the photo project came creeping to mind.

How to get a brand new hearse to it’s abandoned front door for a shot I would title ‘The Hotel at the End of the Road’. A very early unpublished short story by Stephen King had been titled the same.

I began looking into local funeral directories not certain as how to approach such an odd request but it all came together so smoothly when I spoke with a man I’ll call Leland Gaunt.

Leland is into vaults and things. My inquiry of a hearse was met with kind response from him and within 24 hours the photos had been taken!

All thanks to a funeral home guy, a hearse guy and a vault guy. What a pleasant and exceptional group of gentlemen!

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The following day I phoned Leland to thank him once again. He began sharing bits of history about the place. His knowledge was quite intriguing. He’d been an associate of an owner (a doctor) for quite some years and had spent a great deal of time there. He said he proudly owned the original vault from inside it.

Leland spoke about the structure and other physical aspects of the house such as an elevator ‘just for dead bodies’ and how it operated, as well as the hearse underpass at the back, not much unlike a fast food drive through in its appearance.

The house was originally a Civil War era Hospital built in 1910. It was joined by a corridor at that time to what is currently a girls group home, which back then was a nurse’s dormitory. It is seen here in an old newspaper postcard from 1911.

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It became a funeral home in 1936 owned by the prominent Haisten family.

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It remained a funeral home until the mid 1990’s according to Leland. It was sold in the late 1970’s to his associate who then owned it from that time  to its closure and beyond, in the 1990’s. He feels that the place is definitely haunted and conversation ensued about seeing the inside.

It seems securely bolted down enough and the agent handling the property would not seem likely to accommodate curiosity. How hard could it be to present yourself as a potential buyer? What a promising future it could have as a haunted bed and breakfast!

Leland finds that two ladies have moved into the former group home next door and that they seem a bit nosey. Alas, through a funeral home guy and friend of Leland’s, a key to the inside could become a possibility.

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A search for historical information reveal that our local library maintains data only back to the 1970’s, and our local newspaper only archives for a few years.

A group called WOE (Women of Excellence) purchased the property in 2004 with intentions of restoring it for a facility for women out of prison to re acclimate to society. Funding would not permit this and it failed, but not before crews tore down many walls inside, destroying much of it’s original structure.

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The best history always comes from local town’s folk, doesn’t it? Truth is stranger than fiction. Leland began to tell of a woman who lived there. A lady I will call Miss Myrla. She was the owner’s mother and she lived in an upstairs apartment. She’s described as being an attractive and delightful lady in her 80s.

She helped her son run the funeral home. Eerily, and yet somehow sweet, it was said to have been a ritual of hers to kiss all the bodies in the house before going to bed at night.

He said that she loved the house and even after her son sold it to a company called ECI in the 1990’s, she continued to live there alone as the building keeper & night watchman.

How intriguing it must have been to hear her stories. She had since passed and was buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery near town. A photograph of her gravestone could be located at the Find a Grave website online.

I had located zero information on her son though his last name does appear alongside Haisten on a copy of the property deed.

All of a sudden, something a bit strange, and quite unexpected, occurred with the aerial photograph.

I asked my sister if she could paint the lady in the black dress from that image but on the grounds in front of the house. A friend and colleague of hers who also happens to be an artist, offered to sketch her first. She believed she could detail her face, because she saw an image of her face elsewhere in the photograph but closer up.

I had looked at this photo so many times and had not seen this image until she sketched the rather large and dark silhouette. There she was again, but much more defined.

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A haunting portrait begins.

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  hauntingportrait10                     and more time passed…

Somewhere, in there, beyond a hidden wall or a secret shelf could lie an object that reflects the existence of a mysterious lady from a time long passed. A photograph, a mirror, a garment, a jewel. While looking through photos and writing in the wee hours of the morning, I decided to have a look inside the house at Google if that were possible.

I began looking through some inside shots of the house I’d discovered on a real estate website. The destruction was heartbreaking. There were torn down walls abound!

What a historical atrocity that had turned out to be!

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Wherefore art thou Excellent Women?

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…and then, something else happened…

A downstairs room filled with windows revealed a stairway outside that leads into the girls group home, just where the corridor is said to have once joined the two.

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There was something in the far right corner.

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Apparitionally it appears that a nurse in very old fashioned uniform carries a tray. Close observation reveals that there are two spirits roaming closely here within one silhouette/each profiled from the side, beside each other. Perhaps a nurse and elderly gentleman. The elderly one could also be a woman. A ghostly portrait of a time long passed here amidst broken plaster and torn walls.

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A ‘Light Equalization’ affect is added here for definition. Those who can’t see it probably never will just as most who can see it, probably already have.

I have wondered if the person who took that photo for the real estate company would get a chill looking at it now, or would they see nothing at all? What, if anything, did they see or feel on that very day the photo was taken? The mind can only wonder.

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Winter has arrived and the grounds there are frozen.

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The girls group home next door appears very warm and vibrant alongside with its seeming many tenants.

Photographic apparitions thus far have been reflective of the house’ Civil War era, or so it seems, but something physical and a bit mysterious was brought to light in the backyard.

My friend who’d lived next door to it, no longer did, but said to me …. ‘Ya know, there was a stone out back, that looked like a grave and they said it was a property marker when people complained, but it had a name on it, and dates, its near the driveway at the back,’ she said … ‘you’ll see it’.

It took a several attempts to see that and not be suspicious to people who lived there but finally I saw it … ‘J.B. Myers 1926 – 1947’ on an ancient sinking stone beneath a tree.

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A search for the existence of JB Myers was immediately successful on a memorial website, though a photograph of his gravestone is not shown there as is customary.

There is shown there a photo of his obituary as printed in the local newspaper in 1947. It informs that Mr. Myers would lie in state at the funeral home until his service and that his burial would be at the Oak Hill Cemetery.

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A vague and blemished image appears in a photograph of the stone. Where it is certain a tree stump lies just between the tree and the stone, a distorted pair of eyes peer from beneath the ground.

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I have made contact with Rebekah, who submitted the online memorial for Mr. Myers. She was certain there was a tombstone at Oak Hill, Section B, Block 2, as is mentioned in her memorial, but recalled that for some crazy reason, none of the photos from that section would download.

I sent her the photo of the stone behind the house to which she thought was ‘very interesting’ and asked if his parents graves were near it as this might be a possible reason for there being two stones, if that were the case. I informed her then of its odd location with another photo. She recognized the old Haisten funeral home behind it and was surprised by it.

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She informed that Mr. Haisten’s son lived at a local nursing home and he might know the story or perhaps his sister would. She added that she would look forward to hearing that story.

                  

hauntingportrait10                 Tick tock

A warm and welcomed Spring is creeping in but slowly, kissing the frost away. I decided to go for a visit to Oak Hill Cemetery. It is a prestigious and historical old Confederate cemetery on the outskirts of town, covering many acres of land.

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A search for the stone of J.B. Myers ensues on a long Saturday evening stroll in very cool, brisk winds laced with blinding sunbeams.

Section B, Lot 2 was not difficult to locate but much larger than imagined. Mysteriously the camera would not focus in this area and all photos obtained were blurred. It brought to mind how Rebekah had been unable to download her photos from that section.

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A wide open space with most graves scattered about at great distances. Stones that bear dates from 1700s through the present day for what seemed like miles.

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We never located Mr. Myers gravestone. A short time later I found that Rebekah at the Find A Grave website had successfully uploaded her photo!

Its right there, somewhere, at Oak Hill Cemetery!

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Yet even another stone…. was with that one!

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The stone underneath the tree behind the house will remain a mystery. Spiritually unsettling in its way and haunting by nature.

One wonders if tenants in the house next door are more likely than not to be unaware of its past physical connection to it.

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Property deeds online reveal the separation of the two via ownership in 1995. As a whole, the house had been built in 1910.

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One wonders if this remaining occupied quarters, though now separated, could also be apparitional within and beyond its walls.

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A mysterious lady, a nurse with her patient, or possibly alongside a doctor, and a child appear through crevices of time amidst random imagery in old fashioned dress. It is the mysterious lady that has been seen outside photographs, as has light, in this house where there is no power.

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A house with it’s unique property marker out back.

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Strange things were happening, from my kids sneaking over there to knock on the door and run away to a boyfriends proclamation to ‘personally’ take Mr. Myers gravestone to Oak Hill Cemetery where it belongs!

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Fall spills around us once more. Reflections are vivid and yet still not clear of exactly what occurred at 522 Meriwether Street on that hot August evening. Definetly a supernatural disturbance. A greeting from the house itself.

Perhaps there, a haunted location carries such a strong charge of energy, that while ghosts exist there, an unconscious energy of a human agent manifests itself also … that someone around the disturbance is unknowingly, involuntarily causing the activity through repressed psycho kinetic energy. While this person could be of any age, it is noted to most often occur with adolescents and teenagers.

It occurs to me that though my sister and I have returned to the house on several occasions, our kids, who were also present on that strange evening, have not. There also, was a black cat in the car that night, and an ax!

I shall put on a black dress and carry an umbrella for a stroll along the front lawn for a photograph to capture in real time the image of the lady in black that has been emitted in that aerial shot.

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Do you see something strange about this photo? There is something strange about it. The strange thing is, its not what we see in this picture, but something that we don’t see. The age old fashioned light post of iron which once welcomed entry on a concrete column, based in cement, is now missing.

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Vandalism perhaps, would explain how it might not be here ‘after’ the hearse photo was taken, but, what is interesting upon further observance reveals that this old light fixture had not been present ‘before’ at all in any of the prior, older photographs that I had observed from the real estate company nor the newspaper article.

Ghosts are disembodied spirits of those who have once lived. People often find the idea of a haunted old funeral home to be impossible, in that the dearly departed did not ‘die there’, however, that the house was first a Civil War hospital has been reflected here, as has the apparition of the nurse in similar dress from that time period of early 1900’s era.

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Photographs inverted: lights to dark/darks to light.

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That the house was already haunted when it became a funeral home had seeped through it’s walls. Did you see it?

She is the Real nightmare on Meriwether Street, ghetto style, as her rich, elegant sister Bailey Tebault hosts the Halloween parties just down the road, for those who like to be ‘safely scared’.

One can only hope that the house will someday be preserved as the historical treasure that it is, for that reason and in that way only. The idea of it becoming a healthcare/assisted living facility, as recommended by real estate ads, could set the stage for a really good horror movie starring real people.

The price of the house has been reduced drastically since the beginning of this writing, from $199.000.00 to $149,000.00, to $125,000.00 to a mere $89,900.00. Who will buy it? What will become of it?

There was a creepy old man across the street that day at the back of the house, just after the umbrella shoot. He appeared to have been walking his little dog, but he was just standing there, perfectly still. Watching. Perhaps he has seen the mysterious lady in black there with her umbrella.

A curious passerby or perhaps a neighbor. It might have been quite interesting to strike up a conversation with him, but it began to rain.

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Afterword

While researching and writing about the house at 522 Meriwether Street, I would sometimes dream about it. One dream that I remember with great clarity, was that there were people everywhere around it. People with equipment, which in my mind, were a film crew. They were all around it and working diligently as though they were setting up scenes to film a movie.

It so happened that on a dreary overcast afternoon in the Spring of 2015, a group of people did show up at the house and were all around it, working diligently. They were volunteer and construction workers there to begin its restoration and preserve to save it from a historical demolition. Their mission followed a series of front page articles about the house and its inevitable doom in the local newspapers. What a magical mission they accomplished!

If you were to ask me if I believe that my genuine passion, writing and deepest wishes for that house had somehow mysteriously brought good karma to it, I would have to say yes! Stranger things have happened!

The house was sold through the Georgia Trust Organization  for  Historical preservation at a sale price of only 10,000 dollars. The ‘old hospital’ they call it.

It is no longer an eyesore … and is absolutely stunning … on the outside…

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but its dark mysterious past leaves lasting impressions, on many, who have stories to tell.

Meanwhile, at a Ghosts of America website ….


I’ve lived in Griffin since 2004 (though I used to come for visits as far back as 1998. ) I’m 19 years old now, but 10 years ago (summer of 2005 unsure of what month) me and my step brother (both 9) being the little kids we were decided to sneak out at midnight and ride our bikes down to Meriwether Street to this old creepy abandoned broke down mansion. The bike ride was bad enough as it was because of the area it’s located in, but when we got to the actual mansion was even worse. Mind you it’s summer time, so at night it’s like 90 degrees. When we put our hands on that door knob I swear to God it was colder than Antarctica!


We opened the door and took our bikes in with us lay them against the wall next to the door and starting exploring the house. This house had old furniture in it and everything, but it was filthy and nasty in there. In the kitchen there were roaches crawling everywhere. There were broken old plates and garbage all over the floor. All over that house there were cigarette butts, beer and liquor bottles, crack pipes, roaches, bullet shells, and even ammo clips. As we went through the house we kept hearing weird stuff like whispering, thumping, and voices in the distance.


When stopped at the beginning of a hallway which led into pitch darkness (and I swear) I saw a man wearing an old brown robe/housecoat with a mustache and balding hair carrying a lantern appear at the end of that hallway. He started whispering backwards and looked as if he was convulsing. Then he suddenly disappeared. We decided not to go down that hallway and instead went upstairs to a couple of bedrooms. In the upstairs hallway there were blood stains on the floor, and we explored a couple of bedrooms and saw all kinds of sick stuff. In the last bedroom we walked in there were blood stains everywhere literally. While we were in that bedroom we heard a bunch of inaudible whispering voices in the distance, and it got louder and closer. Then it started to get really cold. Our heads started to hurt, and we were getting nauseous.

I heard a loud whispering voice say ”get out!” Weirdly enough about a week after that event the city attempted to renovate the house but never finished  (I recently found out why.)     

Last week (10 years later) I took my girlfriend to see the house (no way in hell we were going in,) and there was

a sign on the door that said it was unsafe and unsanitary for human habitation and had been condemned by the city of Griffin.

Sorry for the long story,

but this is a major memory in my life.

Submitted by Skull

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Its a house with stories to tell and It chooses who tells them. I was chosen.

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and time passes ….

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4 thoughts on “A Haunting Portrait

    1. thank you Gregg, yea that’s me that skmb girl, he inspires me to write some crazy stuff too, I just don’t follow the rules of writers etiquette, I know it gets messy, lol. I really appreciate your nice comments.

      Like

      1. yeh, make it up as you go along, me too – if you need a hand, a second set of eyes to help with any structure , let me know – I’m always up for any comments – good bad indifferent . I have the same problems too. newbies unite 🙂

        Like

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