I had been eager to unveil what it is that makes things go bump in the night, but instead of solving this mystery, this home provided more questions than answers.
Following the initial tour, our group of 20 divided up into teams of three and each of us ventured to a different floor of the house. My team was headed up by Keith Glenn, who had several years of experience conducting paranormal investigations. Keith had been to The Victorian a number of times so he knew what to expect.
Without any sophisticated ghost hunting equipment myself, I was equipped with only a smartphone (which I turned off since Keith explained that they can often interact with K-2 meters and other equipment) and a flashlight. Others in my group had voice recorders, a couple of K-2 meters and cameras, including one with thermal imaging capabilities.
Our team started on the second floor, in the nanny’s room just off of the nursery. We stood in the dark and began to ask questions. You know, the typical stuff like “Is anyone here who would like to speak with us? We mean you no harm. . . What is your name? Was this your room?”.
Keith told us at one point he felt as if someone touched the back of his neck, but I didn’t feel much of anything in that room except fear that something would come out of the dark to pay us a visit. It was also difficult to focus since the music from a bar right across the street from the house could be heard as well. I imagine if the space was indeed occupied by a spirit, it would have a hard time getting any rest at night.
We head next door to the nursery and I am immediately on edge, but I take a seat just to the right of the closet door and try and stay cool (which isn’t too difficult a feat since it’s chilly with no heat indoors). We gather in a circle and one gal takes a seat next to me on the floor with her back braced up against the closet door. I think to myself, ‘Wow, she’s brave! Doesn’t she remember Edwin telling us that supposedly a child got stuck in that closet and possibly died? Oh well, it’s probably just another story to freak people out.’
The nursery – there’s the closet door.
Our team begins to ask questions to the little blonde-haired boy who is said to make himself known to visitors to his former home, particularly when children are around. One woman who frequently walks past the Gardner house with her son once asked Edwin if he and his wife have kids. When Edwin said no, the woman looked confused, saying that her son often sees a little boy up in the window of the second floor. (Cue creepy music from “The Shining”!)
We have no success getting any activity on the K-2 meters as we encourage the boy to walk toward the meters to make them light up. There’s a toy ball in the room that someone from a past visit brought to the home to get the boy to interact with them, so we ask the child whether he can make the ball roll. Nothing happens, until we hear what sounds like a pebble land in the hallway, as if someone had lightly thrown it outside the door to try and make some sort of connection with us. If indeed it is an entity, it seems too frightened to go any further than outside the closed door to make itself known.
We sit in silence for another 30 seconds or so, waiting for some sort of additional response – and that’s when I hear it: a very light rustling noise coming from the closet! I stiffen in my chair, still thinking I’m just imagining things, when the woman who was leaning against the closet asks us, “Did you guys hear that?” That’s when I about wet my pants. Uh, yeah, I heard it clear as day! It sounded exactly like clothing gently sweeping against skin – a noise you’d never notice otherwise, but in dead silence (no pun intended), it was unmistakable and it was coming from the empty closet.
Just seconds after I confirm that indeed I did hear what she heard, she sprang forward, saying that she felt as if something was pushing on the inside of the closet door. Um, yeah, I think we got whatever it was we were looking for in this space; time to move to the next room.
Over in the Red Room, that space felt very heavy to me. I also felt a bit of nausea, but I equated all of it to knowing the background and history of what exactly happened in this room. Something awful took place here, and I found it sad that countless times before, people had come to this room asking this poor woman to recount her final moments of life over and over again.
Someone had placed a K-2 meter on the bed, and at one point I could have sworn it looked as if the meter was floating approximately ½ an inch off of the bed. No one else mentioned the phenomenon, so I figured that it was just my mind playing tricks on me. After all, I was a rookie when it came to paranormal investigations and this was my very first experience with this sort of thing.
Nothing else unusual took place in The Red Room, but after going through my cell phone pictures that I took during the initial tour, I noticed my picture of that room had a streak of light across it, almost like a lightning bolt, that seemed to be moving from the bed to the area where the dress is displayed on the right. The following day, others posted pictures to the meetup.com site for this event and almost all of them captured an orb that seemed to hang out just above the bed. Interesting.
Also, throughout the evening as we traveled from room to room, the name Russell kept popping into my head. I wondered if there was a reason for this, and days later I tried to see whether there was any history of someone with that name who lived in the home, but turned up nothing.
If anyone happens to know if either a gentleman named Russell who lived in the home I would be interested to hear about it!
After clearing out of The Red Room, one lone woman headed back into the nursery because she forgot her camera on the dresser. Moments later, I hear her say, “Oh wow, the ball just rolled out of the room behind me!” Now, I didn’t see the child’s toy moving on its own, so I cannot confirm or deny that’s what really took place, but having heard the noise coming out of the nursery closet earlier, I was already a believer.
Now it was up to the lodger who perished in the master bedroom to convince me that all of these strange occurrences weren’t just a part of my active imagination. I was very jaded at this point. A part of me was hoping that something would happen so that I could prove to myself I wasn’t crazy, and another part of me was praying that nothing would happen because I was scared enough as it was. Keith encouraged the ghost to make his presence known in some shape or form and knocked on the wall to try and entice whatever was there to answer back with a knock. I thought to myself if something other than my fellow ghost hunters come a-knocking, I’m not going to know what to do with myself. Thankfully, the only noise we heard was the sound of classic rock music emanating from the bar right across the street.
It was time for a break to collect our thoughts, have some pizza and build up some extra courage, because next stop would be the basement. And we all know that basements are notoriously creepy, haunted house or not. Well, this one did not disappoint!
“What basement room do we want to start in?” Keith asked.
In my head I was repeating, ‘Please don’t pick the room where the bone was found’ as if it were a mantra. That room just seemed like a really bad place to be and would bring in something or someone we didn’t particularly care to meet.
Luckily, we selected a room in the right-hand corner of the basement instead. At one time, this part of the house had a tunnel that connected directly with the furniture factory that used to sit right next to it, so S.K. Pierce and his workmen could walk directly from the basement (which I imagine was a warehouse where they kept extra supplies and stock) to the factory. As you can see in this photo, the tunnel is now filled in with masonry to block it off, but who’s to say that a portal connecting the house and factory doesn’t still remain?
Masonry now blocks off what used to be a tunnel entrance directly to the furniture factory next door
Either way, the room was rampant with activity. Keith put a Mag-Lite in the center of the room and we all threw out questions to the air, which oddly enough the air seemed to get darker and thicker the longer we sat there. We all agreed that the darkness of the room shifted from bearable, with a teensy bit of night vision still left in it, to utter darkness.
In a few short minutes, when we asked the being to come out and say hello, we heard footsteps coming down the stairs. They resembled what a petite woman with heeled shoes might sound like if they were coming down those steps. The footsteps continued just until they approached the closed door to the right of where I sat. The walking wasn’t rushed, but nonchalant, and with purpose, as if they were going about their business and paying no mind to us at all, then suddenly they were startled by the sound of something in the room with them (i.e. us!). Very unnerving indeed. Strange to have the feeling that you’re frightening a spirit when it’s usually the other way around. The room, while already cold (you could see your breath at this point if you breathed hard enough) seemed to get even more bone-chilling, and at one point I felt like my right cheek (yes, the one nearest to that door) was inside a freezer.
A bit shaken, both physically and mentally, I moved from the chair closest to the door over to the empty chair beside it. A woman sat to my left as well so I felt a bit safer. A bit of time passed as we asked questions and the Mag-Lite Keith had placed in between the on and off position was emitting quite a bit of activity, where the light seemed to turn on for “yes” responses and off for “no” responses when we asked questions. We asked if they knew Edwin, who now owned this home, and the light turned on. I asked if they knew who P.T. Barnum was and the light remained off (so I guess that was a “no”?). We asked whether they could light up the K-2 meter as well and the green light on the K-2 flickered one or two spaces above its normal range. Minutes ticked by in the dark and again we heard what sounded like a pebble land in the hallway outside of the room, just like we’d heard upstairs in the nursery.
Whatever was there, I began to feel a bit more comfortable. It seemed almost playful now, and eager to interact with us. I leaned back in my chair, a bit less worried about what was around. I had the impression it might be a child.
I suddenly felt pressure on the chair, like something didn’t want me getting too comfortable in this space and was pushing on the chair’s center backing. Immediately startled, I jumped, giving everyone else in the room a good scare, too. I shifted forward in the chair after that, not letting myself get too cozy.
We remained in that room for most of our basement investigation, since it seemed to yield plenty of interaction, and then it was on up to the third floor.
I was surprised at how much time was allotted for this event, as it was already pushing well past midnight at this point.
We allotted most of our time in Lillian’s office area and the Billiard Room, which yielded lots of flashlight activity but not much else.
I later conducted an at-home experiment using a Mag-Lite set between the on and off position and set it on the table without touching it to see whether it would flicker on and off on its own without my asking it any questions. Indeed, after a few minutes, the flashlight flickered to life, seemingly all by itself, ghosts around or not, so I remain pretty skeptical about the flashlight being a direct communication tool with the deceased.
What has stuck with me weeks later is the rustling in the nursery and the unexplained footsteps – I still don’t know how to explain those away. Strangely enough, I found comfort not knowing how to explain it away – comfort in the realization that there is something out there just beyond our reach. Something that one day, we might experience for ourselves.
If anyone has additional stories about this curious place, I’d love to learn more. Feel free to write your comments below.