Thursday, October 8, 2020

HGB Ep. 355 - Forepaugh's Restaurant

Moment in Oddity - Horned Helmet of Henry VIII (Suggested by: Mike Roge)

King Henry VIII was a pretty despicable guy. He made a sport of executing people who disagreed with him or beheading a wife. So its not surprising to find out that he had some pretty bizarre headpieces that come off as devilish. One of these headpieces was an armet, which is a helmet that protects the whole skull including the face, that was given to him by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I in 1514. This has become more widely known as the Horned Helmet and was created by Konrad Seusenhofer, one of medieval Europe’s most prominent armorers, as part of a complete set of armor. This helmet is bizarre because it has these glasses pinned over eyes that have been formed to include even pupils, there are these spiraling horns, teeth formed in the mouth area and really large nose. People had originally wondered if it was made for a court jester because it was so weird and that it was meant for celebrations rather than protection in battle. And it probably was meant more for parades because wearing this thing in battle would have served as a good distraction as it would have made the enemies fall over laughing, rather than striking fear into them. Upon closer inspection of the helmet, one can see that it even has the added details of crow's feet around the eyes and stubble on the chin. Today, the helmet can be seen at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England. The Horned Helmet of King Henry VIII, certainly is odd! 

This Month in History - Dafydd ap Gruffydd Hanged, Drawn and Quartered

In the month of October, on the 3rd, in 1283, the Prince of Wales, Dafydd ap Gruffydd (Dawvid op Gruffid), became the first nobleman in Britain to be hanged, drawn and quartered. This form of execution would reign for 700 years. Dafydd was the son of Gruffydd who had been taken hostage by the English King Henry III and imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1244. He tried to escape by tying bed sheets into a rope and climbing out the window, but the sheet rope broke and he fell to his death. After years of Dafydd fighting with his brothers, he became the Prince of Wales in 1282. In 1283, the English squashed the Welsh resistance and Wales has been part of the United Kingdom ever since. Dafydd was sentenced to death. The form of execution was particularly barbaric. Dafydd was dragged by a horse to the site of the execution and then hanged by the neck, but not in a way that would snap his neck. He strangled slowly and then was lowered to the ground and tied down. His manhood was removed and he was disemboweled. These were all thrown into a fire. For some people who underwent this kind of death, they were still alive to see their organs being burned up in the fire. The heads were placed on a pike on London Bridge as a warning.

Forepaugh's Restaurant (Suggested by: Lisa Heutmaker)

Forepaugh's Restaurant was once housed within the beautiful mansion for which it is named. The restaurant shuttered in March of 2019 after the death of its Executive Chef. Before closing, this was considered one of the most haunted restaurants in Minnesota. There are thought to be at least three spirits in this former home, including the man who had it built. One has to wonder if these ghosts are lonely now. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Forepaugh's Restaurant.

Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh was born in 1837 in Pennsylvania. He moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1858 and got involved with the dry goods business. He partnered with another man and they called it, Forepaugh and Justice. By the time he was 36, Forepaugh was the senior partner in the Midwest's largest dry goods store. Later, he would open up other businesses and invested in real estate. On October 19th, 1862 Forepaugh married Mary Lanpher and they went on to have five children. During the Civil War, Forepaugh's store provided supplies to the Union troops. In 1870, the Forepaughs would build their first of two mansions in St. Paul.

This was a large and audacious Victorian home that spread out over five lots in a formerly exclusive neighborhood in the historic downtown area of St. Paul. This neighborhood is known as Irvine Park, which is west of downtown Saint Paul. The neighborhood was platted by fur trader Henry Mower Rice and shipping magnate John Irvine, for whom it was named, in 1849. A New England-style public square was planned in the middle of the neighborhood and named Irvine Park. In 1881, the Pendergast family paid to have a beautiful 3-tiered fountain added to the park. Many mansions were built here, but eventually most became boarding houses that deteriorated over time. By the 1970s, around ninety percent of the homes were unlivable and the city was going to tear down most of the homes and build high-rise apartments. Thankfully, that didn't happen. 

One of the beautiful homes that is still here is the Dr. Justus Ohage House that was built in 1889. It is Victorian in style and has three stories. The Doctor designed it for his wife Augusta with a tower and yellow bricks to resemble the home she grew up in as a child. Unfortunately, she died right before moving into the house. He was left to raise their five kids alone. His claim to fame was performing America's first successful gallbladder surgery. *Fun Fact: The blue John McDonald house next to the Doctor's house has an interesting claim to fame. This is one of those huge houses that they managed to move from one location to another using a flatbed semi. This took place in 1978 and it had to be left overnight on the street and it got a ticket for being illegally parked. This is the only St. Paul home to receive a parking ticket. We imagine it might be the only house to receive such a dubious distinction.*

Forepaugh had his three-story mansion designed so that every window looked out over the manicured grounds and gardens. There are several covered porches. The interior of the house had hand carved wood, chandeliers, fireplaces, a ballroom on the top floor and the finest furniture. The Forepaughs hired multiple servants to help run their home and this included a young Irish maid named Molly. Forepaugh took a liking to Molly. Before long, the two were wandering off to locked rooms and carrying on a torrid affair. Mary Forepaugh eventually walked in on the two while they were in bed together. She understandably was angry and she demanded that Joseph take the family away to Europe, which he did in a bid to save his marriage. 

Molly soon found out she was pregnant. And now she was alone. She fell into a deep depression and one day, she climbed up to the third floor of the mansion and she hanged herself outside a window.  The Forepaughs returned to St. Paul, but Mary would not move back to their former mansion and so they built a new mansion that overlooked the other one. This was on Summit Avenue and was completed in 1891. Forepaugh spent a lot of time looking out at the old property and even walked the grounds of his former home in a real state of melancholy. In early July of 1892, Joseph boarded a streetcar and headed to the woods near Selby and Hamline. There, he committed suicide using a gun. He was reported missing and took a few days before one of Forepaugh's grandchildren that had seen him get on the streetcar, was able to guide the police to the area where they found his body. No suicide note was left, so people have had to speculate as to why he decided to end it all. One reason was thought to pertain to his finances. He was suffering some difficulty with money and he worried about becoming poor. The other reason is that he either felt guilt over Molly committing suicide or he was sad about her death and the death of their unborn child thirty years earlier.

The Forepaughs had sold their Irvine Park home to a well known Civil War general named John Henry Hammond. As we said, many mansions in this neighborhood became boarding houses and that happened to this mansion in the mid-1900s. A WWI and WWII veteran named George became the caretaker of the boarding house. One day, he was attacked and hurt very badly. He had to leave his job, which was hard because he was very attached to the former Forepaugh house. Eventually, the house deteriorated and would have been torn down had a private company not bought it in 2007. This company refurbished the house and opened it as a French restaurant. It changed hands and became the Forepaugh's Restaurant until closing last year. There were eleven dining rooms. One of the neatest rooms was the wine cellar, which had glass doors that opened into a dining room and it had a copper ceiling and limestone walls. Many original items were still part of the restaurant including the front doors, the elaborate staircase just in from the front door and there were old photos of the house hanging on the wall. The bar was amazing and a rooftop terrace gave a great view of the park. The Fitzgerald room was a private dining room with a skylight and shrouded in curtains.

Many people have claimed to have experienced unexplained things inside the home throughout the years. There are claims that three ghosts call this place home. Of course, there is Molly the maid who killed herself here. Then there is Joseph Forepaugh. And strangely, George is said to haunt the place too even though he didn't die inside the house. There has been so much activity that Forepaugh’s Restaurant has been given the title as the most haunted restaurant in Minnesota. There is a fireplace inside the restaurant that many believe is a portal where ghosts enter and exit the home. 

Joseph has apparently come back to his former home even though he did not die there. Perhaps because he carried on his affair with Molly here. Joseph's full-bodied apparition has been seen and he is usually wearing pinstriped trousers, a black waistcoat, silk vest and derby hat. His spirit roams the entire mansion with his most favorite spots being the main staircase and the basement. The basement often features cold spots, rustling noises and the lights flicker. Over time, employees figured out that it was best if the lights were kept on in the basement. This seemed to keep Joseph happy. When he is angry, he makes a mess. He is blamed for moving tables and chairs around the dining rooms too. Joseph's spirit has appeared in pictures. He is usually seen standing next to the prettiest woman in the room. Another photo featured Joseph's hand reaching out to touch a bride’s knee. We'd post the photo, but it disappeared and many think Joseph himself took it after it was put on display.

Employees claim that Molly's room, the third floor dining room where she hanged herself, is the center of much of the unexplained activity. Molly likes to manifest poltergeist activity. There are disembodied footsteps heard in here, the lights turn themselves back on after being turned off and people have experienced feeling tingles as though something electric is touching them. Figures have been seen in a mirror in the room as well. One of the creepiest stories is told about the police and their dogs. The alarm system had gone off and there was a lot of activity recorded. Enough that it was certain that someone had broken inside. The police were called out and they showed up with their dogs and walked the entire house. When they got to Molly's room, the dogs started whimpering and refused to go inside the room. They kept trying to bolt away. The police found no one in the room and no one in the entire house. Molly's ghost likes to appear to brides. She has appeared in a photo with dark hair and smiling with adorning eyes at someone not in the picture. Employees also said they saw Molly during a costume party. At first they thought she was a party-goer who was wearing an authentic period dress. That was until she walked down a hall and then just disappeared. She apparently has a knack for going through walls.

We've heard this story from other locations like the Winchester Mansion where an employee is closing up for the night and they flick off all the lights, lock up and head to their car. Upon looking back at the house, they notice that the lights are back on. That happened to an employee one night and the light that was on was coming from Molly's room. He went back inside to check the room and turned the light back off. He locked up again and headed back to his car, only to notice that the light was back on and it seemed brighter. Now he knew that it was not just something he had overlooked. He went back inside and found a lit candle on one of the tables. He yelled aloud, "Molly, I am tired and I want to go home. No more games." He blew out the candle and locked up again and this time the room stayed dark. Apparently, Molly will listen when asked to stop her prankster activity. A customer was using the restrooms and when he came out he said that he heard a woman singing in the upper levels of the mansion. No one was up on the upper level. 

The other spirit in the house is said to be George who was attacked here. The assistant general manager was named Ben Bush and he claimed to have had many weird experiences, especially when it came to George. George had been a caretaker and now that Ben was a caretaker of sorts, George liked to put him to the test. The two eventually became friends and Ben even claimed that they would watch sports on the television together in the office. Glasses get thrown when employees are setting up for receptions and no one is sure which spirit might be doing this.

The way that Molly's story was discovered seems to have been through a psychic reading. Many people feel that Molly just wanted her story told and that the activity from her tapered off after the reading. Paranormal investigators were allowed to investigate the restaurant when it was open and they documented the lights turning off and on not only by themselves, but also on command. Shadowy figures were picked up on equipment too. The existence of all three spirits has also been recorded, but investigators think they have picked up other spirits too, which is why some believe the fireplace is a portal. There could be as many as seven spirits here. One time, a guest was taking a tour and under their breath they said, "Too bad the place is haunted." Right after that glasses at a nearby waiters station started shaking.

Hannah Logan visited Forepaugh's in October of 2018 and she writes of her visit, "So, did I have any spooky experiences at Forepaugh’s Restaurant myself? Nothing that stood out, though I will say that I did have an odd feeling while standing where Molly is said to have hung herself. But, was that was a feeling of sadness that this poor young woman was abandoned and alone to the point where she felt she had to commit suicide? Or a supernatural touch? Then later, as we were eating, I felt chills up my spine when Ben was sharing his experiences and told us that he could feel George touching him right there in front of us. But again, were those goosebumps because he was a good storyteller? Or something else?"

Michael Norman is the author of The Nearly Departed, Minnesota Ghost Stories and Legends and he was interviewed by The article said, "'Last time I went, there was a photograph kept behind the bar. They call it 'The Ghost Bride." The photograph features a couple posing at their wedding reception, which was held at the restaurant in the 1990s. It's a lovely memory — until you see the disembodied arm floating on the staircase. Norman tracked down the couple in the photograph. 'Both of them said there was no one standing back there when the picture was taken.' He keeps a copy of the photograph with his research. He won't say whether it has swayed his belief in the supernatural. 'I don't take the position as a believer,' he said. 'I've never seen a ghost — but that doesn't mean they don't exist.'"

Forepaugh's Restaurant was housed in a beautiful Victorian mansion and we hope that this location is once again put to good use. Not only so that people can enjoy the beauty of its interior, but so that the spirits will not be lonely. Is the former Forepaugh's Restaurant haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Irvine Park Walking Tour:

No comments:

Post a Comment