Fiction

446 Masonic Street

By Zubrovka

My first wife and I lived in an old farmhouse way out in the country. You would think haunts would be everywhere, but never felt a thing out there.

An older relative of mine had an old 2 story house (circa 1850) downtown that he wanted to sell. The house has about 6000 square ft of living space. My wife and I had entertained thoughts of opening a gift shop and this place looked good enough. My cousin helped me set up financing on it and I bought it in the fall of 1977.

Here follows a short physical description of the house. Constructed of brick, the exterior walls are 2 and 1/2 feet thick. There is no wood framing, just foundation, then floor joints attached to brick for the floors. The plaster on the walls and the ceiling is the old horsehair variety and probably made up by slaves.

Downstairs is a parlor, living room, dining room with built in china cases, kitchen/breakfast room, central hall, full bath and one bedroom. Upstairs is 3 bedrooms, walk in closet, full bath, balcony room. The staircase had been enclosed and moved around when I got the place. Originally it had come down and wrapped the back wall of the living room. Now it comes down an enclosed tunnel. opening to a landing in the living room. The landing has stairs on into the living room and a door to some stairs that go down into central hall and back porch. Upstairs, you can see where the floor originally opened into the living room, but is now a hardwood floor patch. I have been told in the last few years that long ago a child fell to her death over the railing from upstairs! I bet that's when they closed it up.

On the exterior the house originally had a gallery with columns on three sides, but that was removed in 1937. A balcony over the front door remains and is covered by a tall porch held up with 2 columns. The exterior was painted white by my cousin's wife (grrrrr); that is paint over original brick! There is a concrete slab off the parlor accessed by a side door. A side porch was built over the slab, but the columns were in bad shape. There was a rotting outside staircase which I removed. (I removed both the side porch and the rotting stairs.) Out back is a 3 car garage missing a roof. I found a cistern in one of the car bays. My hired help fell in it, (that's how we found it) but I caught his arm. We then filled it in. There is a good possibility this garage was once a kitchen for the house. I have been told this house was originally on the outskirts of town with a front lawn that reached all the way down to the river, now 3 blocks away. It was a plantation residence. I also think I know who built the house, and it was probably built just prior to the Civil War. (American)

RUMORS:
My cousin raised his 6 daughters in the house. Lots of paranormal activity was related by them. The mother said one night she went downstairs for a coke. When she popped the cap off, the top fell on the floor and she couldn't find it. She started walking back through the dinning room towards the living room. Glancing behind her she noticed, rolling on the carpet like a wheel, the bottle cap. It rolled along behind her till she got to the staircase and then the cap fell over. She hastily ran back to bed.

Her husband reported being in bed one morning after the mother had left to take the girls to school. Said he was lightly dozing when he felt what he thought was his wife crawl back into bed beside him, says he felt her warm skin against him. He turned over and nobody was there.

One of the daughters, Jenny, is my age and a close friend. She told me that a very beautiful lady with long dark hair used to come play with her when she was playing alone. She was preschool age and said at the time she didn't think it odd that she could see right through this woman.

The water faucets had a habit of all coming on at the same time, day and night. The dining room feels icy through all seasons, even with the floor furnace going wide open in that room.

A man in a military uniform is often seen standing at the balcony door window. (I have seen this myself, couldn't make out the color of the uniform.)

Doors swing open and close by themselves.

THINGS HAPPENING AFTER I BOUGHT THE PLACE:
The night after I bought the house, that day my wife and I and a married couple who were friends went down to have a look. The electricity was off. The other man and I had strong flashlights. We ended up in the kitchen sitting at an old table talking in the dark. The women needed to go to the restroom. Now the bath downstairs is right outside a door from the kitchen to the central hall; cross the hall, enter bath door. Try as we might, we couldn't get the bath door to open, so the women had to walk through the dining room, across the living room, through the parlor, into the downstairs bedroom and then into the bath. I gave them my flashlight. As they were coming back through the parlor and into the living room an empty coke can flew off the mantel in the parlor, traveled roughly 25 feet and struck my wife in the back of the head, hard! They thought we had done it, but we had never left the kitchen. That spooked us so we left. (My parents suggested the vibration from a train caused this.)

We spent a lot of time repairing the downstairs where the gift shop would be. Tools came up missing a lot, only to be found later in another room.

Water faucets turned on in the middle of the night.

One night my cousin Jenny, who grew up in the house, was staying over. We used one of the bedrooms as a den and she was sleeping on the couch. My wife was in our bedroom asleep. I was in the balcony room (my study) writing. It was pretty late. Suddenly I felt someone staring me and out of the corner of my eye saw long dark hair, but when I looked at the doorway, no one was there. I went into the den and Jenny was sound asleep. I woke her up and asked her if she'd wanted anything. When I explained it to her, she moved into bed with my wife and I got to stay up the rest of the night to guard them.

There was a lot of tension all the time. My wife and I divorced while we lived in that house. I think a lot of our problems came from that tension.

I lived in the house about 6 months after my wife moved home to her parents. A friend rented the downstairs bedroom. I can remember one evening when I came home so intoxicated that I passed out in the upstairs bathroom floor. I was so looped I didn't care what came about. I do recall seeing people and strange things all night long.

I'll tell you, I was having a hard time with the divorce, started drinking heavily, quit showing up for work. Course my family looked the other way and allowed that it was the same as I was there (self-employed). I spent a lot of hours at night driving down along the levees. My parents told me later that they thought I had "walked through the valley of the shadow of death!" And on top of all that I was dealing with the weirdness at the house. I had been around old houses all my life and never felt what I was feeling in that house.

A friend of mine was driving a truck, delivering Hershey products down south. He stopped by on his way to New Orleans and asked me if I'd like to go. I jumped at the chance to get away and left my friend who rented the downstairs bedroom to keep the house. It felt good to get away. We got laid over in New Orleans so I rented a car and we went down in the French Quarter and partied. Saw some of St Louis' cemetery, browsed a voodoo shop, did a few turns of heavy drinking and returned home.

My friend that kept the house told me about a friend of his bringing his psychic girlfriend over for a look and she freaked, started crying in the dining room and asked to leave quickly..

Also, my friend told me about his ghost experience at the time, but he didn't tell me till about 15 years later because he thought at the time that I was about over the edge. One of the upstairs bedrooms; it faced the street, when you came up the stairs at the top you turned right and walked into this bedroom, (that door being on the north wall). Also you could turn to your right a second time, cross the room and walk out a doorway on the west side into the central upstairs hall. This door stayed open against the north wall, into the bedroom. The bed in this room had the headboard against the west wall, just a space away from the door. It was the first room I used for a bedroom before I moved to the room with the attic access. There was a night side table between the door and the bed and a telephone was located there. My friend was all alone one night and went in that room to use the telephone. He was sitting on the side of the bed facing the north wall and open door. He told me that suddenly a beautiful woman with long dark hair and pale skin leaned in that doorway and smiled at him. People dropped by sometimes late at night, and he thought she was somebody's' date. He smiled back at her and started to say hello, when he noticed he could see through her to the door behind her. As he realized this, she faded away, still smiling. He told me he really felt bad because he had kept telling me there was no such thing as ghosts and it opened his eyes.

This probably goes under technical stupidity instead of ghosts, but one night the house blew a fuse and I grabbed a flashlight and headed down to the back porch. The fuses were located back in a hole in the brick and you had to feel around carefully for them. You could shine the light on them and then reach back in there and change the necessary one. I reached back in the box and got knocked across the hall into the kitchen from the shock. That night I locked up and went to stay with my folks, had the electrician over the next day.

Another one of my friends' mother wanted to see the old place so I told them to come over. She thought she might like to buy it. When they came in the side door into the parlor she went crazy about the fireplace mantle mirror in the living room having a witch's face in it (this mantle was 40 feet away from her when she saw it). Then she started talking about feeling ill and they left quickly too.

RESEARCH:
I knew the house was over a hundred years old, but I needed documents to prove it in order to get it on the historical register, which I wanted to do. I spent hours reading deeds and wills, etc. The house was given in a will to the Methodist Church in 1923, it shows that in the church records, but it does not say who gave it to the church as they wished to remain unknown. The courthouse burned in 1923 and all records with it. The Methodist's used it as a church, then a parsonage, then a home for the district superintendent. During WW2, the upstairs bedrooms were rented to fliers from the nearby Army Airbase.

I think my cousin bought it from the church in 1960. After he moved his family to a more modern home, he leased the house to a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher. A daughter of that preacher said her daddy named the antics Mergutoid and made light of the things that happened. She didn't go into details. Some other pastor rented the house too. Then I purchased it.

From reading in the local library I think a John Nichols built the house. He was an early pioneer to the area, farmed, had a brick factory, was one of the first Sheriffs and attained a lot of wealth. The info I read talks about his new home on the outskirts of town. Sometime later he gave the house (I think) to his son and built a grander place, about 2 blocks north. That house still exists. I went in it many years ago and it was still very nice then. John Nichols son, Frank, had the house for awhile and I suppose the Nichols' family are the ones who gave it to the church. However, not a whole lot of information could be found on Frank. Even old timers I interviewed were very hazy on their memories. I believe something dark happened around the turn of the century. Someone mentioned that a man who lived there along about that time had a wife and child who disappeared and were never heard of again. I believe it could be Frank Nichols. The family have a stone fenced plot in the old city cemetery, but they also have a plot in the oldest part of the current cemetery, and that is where Frank is buried. I think there are 3 other Nichols buried there. The rest of the Nichols are buried in the old city cemetery (with plenty of space for the ones buried elsewhere).

There are a lot of unanswered pieces here and I quit searching after awhile.

After my wife and I split up, I moved into the new back bedroom that had doors accessing the attics. I would slide a bench in front of the doors at night (both doors were opposite in a corner) and wake up the next morning, the bench slid back and the door gaping wide open.

My drinking was really getting excessive, I think I used the alcohol to dull my senses to what was going on.

I had a plumber friend over to run a new waterline to the kitchen. He had to belly under the house. He told me later that he had never seen a foundation like that one. Most houses have outside wall foundation and usually brick pillars holding up the various walls. This house had a maze of plastered brick passageways that you had to crawl through. He said he was frightened of the way he felt in the maze, trying to locate the kitchen plumbing. He got stuck at one point and was yelling up to me that he was stuck and would have to relax. I was standing there with my chain saw, ready to rip the floor up to get him out. Finally he wiggled through and got the job done and then came out. He told me next time I had a problem to please call someone else.

My one remaining cat, a female, had kittens when I lived there and she had them hid in my pickup. When I started my motor it executed all of the kittens.

It seemed things were getting worse to me.

I was very happy when one of our farm houses came up vacant. I moved out immediately with the help of some friends.

I stayed away from the house for 2 to 3 months, except to mow the yard and make sure it was staying locked up. Finally, I resolved to sell it. I started trying to get it presentable. I managed to get the =downstairs presentable without a hitch, and most of the upstairs too.

One afternoon I arrived alone to finish the upstairs sweeping. I locked myself in the house, so as not to be disturbed. Upstairs, I opened the balcony door and the side door (the one I tore the staircase off of, it opened into emptiness) for ventilation. I was in the back bedroom, the one that had the doors accessing the attic. The doors were open when I went in, but I closed them and slid the bench in front of them. I was quietly sweeping away when I heard a noise that just about stopped my heart. Something was making a big deal of stomping down those stairs from the big attic. It almost reminded me of a basketball slamming on each step real slow. Time seemed to slow down as I looked at the attic door and then heard another step. I finally thought to myself, "If that door opens, I'll drop dead." I turned to run and threw the broom behind me across the floor. I ran down the hall so quick, that if I hadn't grabbed the stair banister, I would of shot out that open door into emptiness. I made the swing onto the staircase and remember that I dared not look up towards the hall. When I got down into the living room, I ran to the front door. It was locked and in my frightened state, would not open. I turned and ran through the parlor, frantically hoping the side door would open. I fumbled at it and fumbled at it. I'll be blunt here, I've never before or since been so damn frightened. Finally I got out the door and ran away across the drive so as to not be under that second floor doorway. Then I just sort of froze to the spot I was standing, looking at my neighbors house. A dear old couple lived right next door and the wife was always looking out her kitchen window to see what was going on over at my house. She saw me out there and they both came running and took me in their home. I remember her saying I was white as a sheet! Her husband said I looked like I had seen a ghost. I told him I had and he just didn't say anything. I've wondered about that looking back. I think they probably knew. I begged them to check and make sure it wasn't coming across the yard. I finally calmed down after they had me drink some ice tea. I got on the phone and called my friend who was going to live with me at the farmhouse. I told him what happened and he said he'd come up. He was a fearless person. When he arrived, we went back in the house and back upstairs. I don't know why I thought him being there would make any difference. We went in the back bedroom, the bench was lying on the floor sideways like it had been forced hard. The top attic door was wide open and, worst of all, the broom I had thrown down when I ran out of there was propped in the attic door opening. Marcus, my friend, wanted to go on up there into the attic, but I talked him out of it and after locking up, we left.

I never went back in that house alone again and only went back twice at all. Once, to get my tax records I had left in an upstairs closet. Several of us went in that night, armed to the teeth! Nothing happened. The other time was when I sold it to a Baptist preacher on a lease to buy contract. We were signing papers and I had known this man for a long time. I drew him aside and told him the house was haunted and he could still get out of the deal if he wanted, but he told me he didn't believe in ghosts.

I never went back in that house alone again and only went back twice at all. Once, to get my tax records I had left in an upstairs closet. Several of us went in that night, armed to the teeth! Nothing happened. The other time was when I sold it to a Baptist preacher on a lease to buy contract. We were signing papers and I had known this man for a long time. I drew him aside and told him the house was haunted and he could still get out of the deal if he wanted, but he told me he didn't believe in ghosts.

Finally, while I was away at school being a professional student, my father sold it to a former high school classmate of mine and also a former PentHouse playmate. (I'm always at the wrong place when something nice comes along.) She painted the house pink and was planning on opening a club of some sort there, till she was run out of town!

The bank got the house from her default and they sold it to the preacher I repossessed it from. He still lives there.

I find it interesting that so many preachers of various denominations have lived there, but suspect if they witness anything, they would see it as a challenge to overcome.

Before I sold it the second time I was seeing a lady who was into mysticism a bit. She went in the house reading from some book as she walked along. A friend of mine went with her and I sat out in the yard. They went upstairs and she went up into the top attic by herself, still reading from this book. It wasn't a bible. She reported to me later that whatever was up there had red eyes and was very angry to be disturbed. She said she tried to help it, send it on its way, but it refused to listen and would hide itself in remote corners of the attic, trying to evade her. It didn't like whatever she was reading from the book. She finally gave up and left the house.

A final note of interest. Just before dad sold the house for me, he was driving down a nearby street one morning just before sun up. He saw an old man walking along that he knew and it being cold, stopped and offered the man a lift. As they drove by the house, the old man asked dad if I still owned the place and if anybody lived there. Dad told him we had it for sale and nobody was supposed to live there at the moment. Well the old man told dad that every once in awhile when he walked to the store just before daylight, that he'd see a light, bobbing through the house upstairs, like it would look if someone was carrying a lit candle. I think that bit of information really spooked my dad.

According to my cousins, there are three spirits in that house. A child, a man and a woman. It's out of my hands now. I sure hope that preacher can help them. It sure feels good to be 20 years beyond it.