Thursday, June 29, 2023

HGB Ep. 493 - St. Augustine Haunted House Investigation

Moment in Oddity - Penny Treasure

Economic times have been tough for many of us these days, but what if you came upon an unexpected stash of coins? Copper to be precise, as in a collection of 1 million pennies! Recently a family in California discovered a collection of coins while cleaning out the basement of a deceased relatives home. Some of the coins were still encased in bank sealed bags and boxes. Reports in the New York times estimated the value of the pennies at around $10,000. Removing the coins from the crawl space they were found in was tedious. The process even left imprints on the fingers of the family members who removed them, due to the weight of the coins. One helpful detail in the discovery was that each parcel removed had the number of coins written on the outside of the package, somewhat simplifying the task at hand. However, the family has been faced with difficulties in finding a bank that actually wants all the copper coins in exchange for the appropriate pay out. A Wells Fargo manager said that the family may possibly find a few high value pennies that could be pre-WWII in the midst of the collection. The relatives have no desire to sort through the 1 million coins for the possibility of happening upon a few of the rare pennies. So they have decided to list the coins for sale on OfferUp, asking $25,000. Most people would concur that coming across an unexpected creatively concealed cache of coins is exciting. However one thing is for certain, finding 1 million pennies in a deceased relatives crawl space, certainly is odd. 

This Month in History - Death Sentences Halted

In the month of June, on the 29th, in 1972 the US Supreme Court halted all death row executions. In Furman v. Georgia, the court ruled 5 to 4 that capital punishment violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The case centered on Furman who was burglarizing a home when he was discovered. During his attempt to flee Furman tripped and fell, causing his gun to fire which killed a family member in the home. By a narrow majority the court decided that the death penalty constituted 'cruel and unusual punishment'. This was the first time that the US Supreme Court had ruled against capitol punishment. However, the Court ruling also suggested that new legislation could make death sentences constitutional again in the future. The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 in part because polls showed two-thirds of Americans supported capital punishment and progress had been made in jury guidelines. Today, the Court often faces questions on the constitutionality of particular aspects of the death-penalty system but cases continue forward following the revised laws of 1976.

St. Augustine Investigation

A haunted house in the city of St. Augustine is not unique. It seems every location near the historic downtown is haunted. But this house was fairly new, being built in the 1980s. We conducted an investigation here that lends credence to the theory that any place can have unexplained activity, regardless of age. Perhaps it is because of the land. Maybe things that happened in the house left spiritual residue. Or its also possible that spirits gather somewhere because of people seeking to communicate with them. Join us as we investigate a small house just outside of the historic downtown of St. Augustine!

So we arrived at the house at midnight and were greeted by our host John. we had booked a private investigation for just our family for two hours with Ghost Augustine and Para4rce Investigations. Ghost Augustine hosts ghost tours and pub crawls and they also make investigation equipment. One of our first pieces, an EMF detector, we bought from them and Diane has done a tour with them. John gave us a quick history of the spot before we went inside. (St. Augustine Intro) We also found that this was a commercial property for many years. One of them being Jim's Dry Wall.

The Seminole Indians were involved in three separate Seminole Wars. They are a tribe of Creek origin. The name Seminole is thought to derive from the Creek word simanó-li, meaning “separatist,” or “runaway.” The name may also have derived from the Spanish cimarrón, “wild.” They settled mostly in the Everglades and were joined by other tribes and runaway slaves. Eventually, the Indian Removal Act came calling and that is what started the wars as the Seminoles fought removal. The Second Seminole War was one of the deadliest and costliest American Indian Wars ever fought on US soil and a group of Seminoles was captured and brought to St. Augustine as prisoners. They were kept at the Castillo de San Marcos, which at the time was known as Fort Marion. They were held for two months between November and December of 1837. Osceola, a famous Seminole war leader, was one of those prisoners. After the wars, many Seminoles fled south again and to this day they claim to be the unconquered tribe.

Plantations were spread across parts of St. Augustine. They grew sugar cane and indigo. Indigo in St. Augustine was called blue gold. It was the major export crop from St. Augustine in the 1760s and 1770s. Florida had a perfect environment for growing indigo and plantations could produce three crops a year.  It took about 100 pounds of indigo plant to produce four ounces of processed indigo. Indigo was processed in three vats that were made from coquina, tabby or wood. The plants were cut up and placed in the vats that were filled with water and urine to help the fermentation process. The urine usually came from slaves. In the second vat it was beaten with sticks as the water drained off and in the third vat it was pressed and then dried into blocks. The finished product would be shipped to England. The indigo was grown by and processed by slaves. The chance of there being slave graves in the area where the house stands is possible. The plantation closed down in 1866 and the land was sold.

The house is fairly small. We entered into the kitchen at one time with a restroom to the right. This is a modern restroom, but that doesn't stop it from being haunted and we will get some evidence in there a little later. The kitchen area is the central hub with a TV featuring the transmission from four cameras throughout the house. There are two small bedrooms coming off a central hall that empties into a medium size room that was probably the family room. It holds a dining table now. The original house was built in 1931 and there was another house right next to it where there is a garage today. That second house burned down in the 1940s. The 1931 house stood until 1981 when it was demolished because of foundation issues and then rebuilt. The kitchen and bathroom were part of an extension built in 1985. The house is fairly new considering that it was built in the 1980s, but that doesn't stop it from being incredibly active. This house is proof that it is important to know about the land and everything that has stood on the property through the years.

John told us about the various spirits they believe are in the house. The first room we went into was Jack's Room. The story behind Jack is that he lived in the original house during the 1940s and he became depressed and hanged himself in the house. John is going to tell us about the spirit and right at the beginning you will hear us react to a piece of equipment that picks up static electricity because it blipped. It is similar to a REM Pod. (Jack) 

The main room with the dining table is home to the spirit of a little boy named Tommy and just as always seems to happen with us, we got the most interaction from him. He was a ton of fun! There is also a ghost cat that hangs out as well as another entity. Here's John telling us about these spirits.(Tommy) That thing called the Spider will seem to show up later in the way John said it would, on the SLS Camera. There are some people who think that the Spider was brought in via a Ouija board at some point. John also told us later that Tommy occasionally swears because he has picked up a few of those bad words through the years.

The other small bedroom is home to a spirit named James. John told us that it feels oppressive to people who are sensitive and Kelly definitely felt weird in there. Here's John sharing about the ghost. (James) It is a small room that could make people feel claustrophobic, but Kelly felt something else. So perhaps this is some kind of portal. Then John cut us loose to start investigating. We started in the main room. Diane set up the flashlight experiment, but the light never turned on. John had a maglite he set up on the table and it was really active, but even after we set our flashlight next to his, we got nothing. That makes us think that maybe there was a battery issue. Although it did turn on once when Kelly asked it to and then turned off right after that when John asked for James to turn it off and then it turned on again when Kelly asked it do it again. 

Ghost Augustine makes equipment and they have an Ovilus like device they developed because Ovilus went out of business. It was spitting out a lot of words, which again made us wonder if it was an equipment issue. It did say "34 years" when first turned on and it is believed that Jack was in his 30s when he committed suicide. Diane asked about the spider entity - you will hear the Ovilus in the background and John does decide to turn down the sensitivity. (Spider) There are many spirits in the house, so that also may be why there were so many words coming out of it. We also had a music box set up in the front room and it is going to be very active. It went off for the first time about 10 minutes into the investigation. The creepy word at the beginning of this clip is the Portal Box in Jack's Room. (Music Box 1)

While Jake and Diane stayed in the main room, Kelly, Christy and Jordan went into Jack's Room and did a dowsing session. Diane heard Kelly ask if something was pushing on her legs. It seems that Kelly and Jordan were getting touched quite a bit. Jake and Diane picked up an orb that moved from the floor to the chair and back down again so we thought maybe this might be the cat. Then the music box went off again and it seems that Tommy was here, so perhaps he was the orb because the chair the orb went up on had Tommy's bear sitting in it. In this clip you also will hear the Spirit Box starting because Diane was setting that up when the music box went off. (Music Box 2)  Sounded kinda like a kid saying "yes" when we asked if he liked the bear. 

Diane got the idea that we should sing nursery rhymes and this is going to be a big hit with Tommy. In this clip you'll hear us singing and then we ask Tommy if he'd like us to sing again and we think we got a pretty clear answer on the Spirit Box. (Spirit Box Yes Sing) We continue with the song fest! (London Bridge) As you heard, the REM Pod also went off, along with the music box and the cat ball went as well. We finished off with Itsy Bitsy Spider in the room that has the spider. LOL! Then we decided to Ring Around the Rosie and go around the actual table and the REM Pod went crazy. (REM Pod 1)

John pulled out the SLS Camera at this time. We first aimed it at the bathroom and there was definitely something sitting in there on the toilet. We recorded a video of that. Then we took it to the main room and Jordan gets touched as does Jacob. (Touched) So Jordan's butt got touched and Jacob's hand got tingly. Tommy showed up on the SLS Camera and waved and we did "Ring Around the Rosie" again and Diane made a video of the SLS Camera and a bunch of stuff going off on the table. (Rosie)

Jake then gives the ESTES Method a try. Unfortunately, we don't have the internal Spirit Box recording for this (Jake Estes Final) We wonder if the numbers he said like 7 and 8 were referring to spirits in the location because he said "here" a bit after that. John mentions the Spider being on the table numerous times. There was a vase with dried roses in it on the table, so it was interesting to hear Jacob say rose when we asked where the spider was. Then we were told to leave, but we didn't agree to that. 

Jordan tried the Estes Method next. You'll hear at the beginning that John gets his ear tugged and then he mentioned someone else who died in the house named Colleen. Apparently she died in a fire. John also mentions hearing something like nails on a door. (Jordan Estes) We asked for a name through Jordan, but Jack apparently preferred the Portal Box and said his name through that. A word that Jordan didn't catch may have been (Sweetums)? There was also safe a couple of times, sense, 40th and fight or sight. Lots of alliteration, Kelly.

Christy tried the Estes Method next. (Christy Estes) Something got screwed up with her Spirit Box internal recording because I think it actually somehow merged something from our Lilian Place investigation because we got words that we remembered from that. And unfortunately it happened with all the rest of the sessions. Here is John giving the Estes Method a try. (John Estes) He got six several times too. Maybe in reference to our family group of 6? And then Diane did an Estes session. (Diane Estes) Diane thought it was cute that Jack was behind her and Jordan said "Jack and Diane." The Portal Box said "Yep" after Christy asked if Jack was behind Diane. And then that was hilarious after Kelly said Christy hadn't been touched before and Diane blurts out "Horny." Then at the end of Diane's session the SBox just switched what it was doing all on its own. 

This investigation was a ton of fun and even better, we got the opportunity to introduce our niece and nephew to ghost hunting. Our brother-in-law Rich still left as a skeptic, but there was no doubt that some things happened on this evening that we couldn't explain. Is this house in St. Augustine haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 22, 2023

HGB Ep. 492 - Haunted Cemeteries 26

Moment in Oddity - Got Milk? (Suggested by: Jared Rang)

Whom of us has not heard the pro-dairy slogan of, 'Got Milk', or 'Milk, it does a body good'? Would you believe that it was strictly related to a modern marketing strategy that was caused by a milk surplus that dates back as far as World War I? That was the incident that began America's century-long milk surplus. During the first world war, the US government started sending dairy products consisting mostly of canned and powdered milk to soldiers oversees. This prompted the dairy farmers to ramp up their production. When the war ended the surplus milk production did not which created extremely low milk prices. This prompted dairy farmers to stage strikes and unionized during the 1930's. Once WWII started, milk's demand again rose, albeit slightly. Along with the usual milk staples, the government actually created a floating barge that created ice cream for sailors and marines. The concrete barge was towed around the Pacific, distributing ice cream to ships incapable of making their own. It held more than 2,000 gallons of ice cream and churned out 10 gallons every seven minutes. Talk about a morale booster! Although the dairy demand had increased during WWII there was still a surplus. In response to this, the government created federal programs to artificially drive up the demand for milk. The first program was the 1940 Federal Milk Program for Schools following with President Truman passing the National School Lunch Act which mandated that each lunch provided needed to include milk. Despite those government funded campaigns, there was still a surplus which began the production of 'government cheese' of which some of us are familiar. Today, there is the Dairy Checkoff Program, with some participants being Pizza Hut's Stuffed Crust Pizza and Taco Bell's Quesalupa and the Quesarito that came after. Domino's pizzas now have 40% more cheese than days of old and Starbucks is more heavy handed with their milk to coffee ratio. Until now, I had no idea that those milk based TV commercials had such a historical, half and half scoop behind them, but one thing I do know is that they certainly are odd.

This Month in History - The Birth of Mildred J. Hill

In the month of June, on the 27th, in 1859, American musician Mildred J Hill was born. She learned music from her father and Adolf Weidig, an American composer. If you have ever sung the 'Happy Birthday' song to someone, you have page homage to Mildred and her sister Patty. Mildred wrote the music for this well known ditty and it is said that Patty wrote the lyrics. Originally the song was written as "Good Morning to All", a greeting song from teachers to their kindergarten students. In 1893, the song was published in "Song Stories for the Kindergarten". Mildred and Patty were leaders in the national kindergarten movement, promoting the importance of "purposeful play, creativity and social responsibility", as they were taught by their parents. "Happy Birthday to You" first appeared in print in 1912 and its popularity continued to grow through the 1930's. Mildred J Hill died on June 5th, 1916 and is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery and Arboretum in Louisville, Kentucky.  She and her sister Patty were posthumously inducted into The Songwriter's Hall of Fame on June 12, 1996. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday to You" is one of the three most popular songs in the English Language.

Haunted Cemeteries 26

There really is no place quite as peaceful as a graveyard. The dead generally don't talk. Introverts don't have to pretend to read a book to remain undisturbed. Extraverts can take comfort in the fact that they are surrounded by a captive audience. Everyone can take solace in the idea that when they are gone, they will have a spot to keep their memory alive. Perhaps this is why so many of these cemeteries seem to be haunted. A spirit just wants to be near their memorial. Join us as we feature haunted cemeteries from England, Arkansas, Minnesota, Vermont, Florida, and Illinois!

All Saints Churchyard in Patcham

All Saints Church stands on a hill above the village of Patcham and was built in the 12th century in an Early English and Decorated style. Many British churches and cathedrals were built in that Decorated style, which is most visible in the elaborate tracery on windows and such. The oldest part of the church is the nave with the chancel and tower, topped by a turret spire. The outside is cement with interior walls of flint with stone dressings. There is a Gothic arch over the south porch that was built in the 14th century. The church has been restored many times through the centuries and has room for 350 people. There are several memories inside, one of which is for the Shelley family, early owners in Patcham. Only part of the memorial still exists and features pilasters on each side, the Shelley coat of arms and naked gravediggers.   We're not sure when the churchyard was established, but it is very organized. One side was left to the criminals and those who committed suicide. There are seven chest-tombs from centuries ago for the Scrase family. There are sixteen Commonwealth war graves memorializing two British Army soldiers from World War I, eight Royal Air Force personnel and five soldiers and a WREN of World War II. 

There are some strange things that happen here and most of them are connected to the churchyard connected to the church. Two of the spirits belong to Sir Charles Thomas Stanford and Lady Ellen Stanford. Lady Ellen appears as a tall, thin lady dressed in grey. She enters the church and sits in a pew on occasion, especially when it is cold outside. Apparently this spirit gets chilly. She showed up one particular Christmas Eve night for midnight mass in the 1970s and was described as looking pale and sickly and when a couple of people approached her to ask if she was okay, she disappeared into thin air. One of the earliest recorded experiences happened in 1956. Two boys were hanging out in the churchyard specifically looking for ghosts and they got their wish when they saw a dark hooded figure. Other reports claim to see an apparition emerging from the south side of the building that disappears into the churchyard. A person walking by the churchyard once saw two women in medieval clothing pass through the tombs on the west side of the churchyard.

Liberty Baptist Church and Cemetery

The city of Batesville in Arkansas is the county seat of Independence County and is the oldest city in the state. It's named for the first territorial delegate from Arkansas to the Congress of the United States, James Woodson Bates, who had settled here. The White River was right there and so Batesville became an important port after it was settled in 1810. There were few homes at first, but those early pioneers built a ferry. The town took more shape in 1821 and a post office was established in 1822. A circuit court followed. We're not sure when the Liberty Baptist Church was founded, but the cemetery connected to it has burials that date back to 1855 and continued through the 1990s. This is fairly large for a churchyard. That land was donated by Jordan Haddock.

It's not surprising that the church and cemetery are said to be haunted because the area in and around the city had extensive quarries of limestone and marble. The most reported spirit is the ghost of an old woman that can be seen sitting in a rocking chair, upstairs, through the window of the church. This usually happens in the summer. The lights in the church turn themselves on and off. There is a gravel road that leads up to the church and the town folk claim a young woman was killed and dumped on this road in the early 1900s. The cemetery features strange lights and visitors have seen the spirit of a little boy wandering around the cemetery. He has been captured in several photos.

These are experiences that people have shared after visiting the cemetery: "My brother and I went to this location, with an EVP reader. We talked to the spirits there for over an hour. when we arrived, my stomach dropped. I felt extremely uneasy the whole time. We asked if we should leave and the EVP reader said immediately after, 'dash' so we closed out the session and said goodbye and finally left."

"On the way up to the church me and my friends had a bad feeling and as I was investigating solo my spirit box began screaming at me and it was deep as if something from hell had manifested before along with a figure out in the cemetery."

"I have pictures that I have taken of this place. There is a woman in the window upstairs in several pictures. I have pictures of the window the the shades completely closed and pictures from the same night where it looks like someone has pulled the shade partially open and you can see the image of a transparent woman looking out. The lights on the front of the church went out and came back on when we asked if they wanted us to leave. This happened 2 times when we asked again just to make sure it want a coincidence. Really nothing going on with the cemetery. We have gone 3 times and got pictures from the church." 

Lakeview Cemetery

Lakeview Cemetery is located in Buhl, Minnesota and was established in 1913. Burials continue there today. Right next to the official cemetery is a potter's field where patients from the Shaw Hospital were buried. The Shaw Hospital housed people sick with tuberculosis and the mentally ill. The hospital was open until at least 1936 and then became a nursing home and by 2003, it was vacant. The city of Buhl bought the property in 2012. The people buried at the cemetery from the hospital and nursing home were buried under cast iron crosses with just a number on them. The strangest place in the cemetery has been dubbed the "Sanctuary." This is the Veteran's Memorial within a white picket fence. It consists of a large crucifixion statue with 50 white wooden crosses and a concrete box with a veteran’s medallion on it. What makes it weird is not the activity that takes place within it, but rather the lack of paranormal activity. Feelings of dread evaporate and it is very peaceful, which is in stark contrast to all the activity going on in the rest of the cemetery. The cemetery is said to be a paranormal hotspot. People claim to see apparitions that range from a white misty figure that runs near the cemetery road to a man dressed in 1920s era clothing walking among the gravestones. It is thought that he was a cemetery gatekeeper. Disembodied footsteps are heard as are disembodied voices. Flashes of light and gray mists appear and there are strange smells. This place hits all the senses.

Brian Leffler of Northern Minnesota Paranormal Investigators wrote on Occult World in 2017, "An investigation in June of 2003 resulted in a very strange video. I was filming in infrared and asking questions. I said, 'If there are any spirits here, show me a sign.' I started filming, and a single flag began to wave, though there was no wind. I panned the camera around and found many other flags sitting perfectly still, including the large flags on their poles sitting 25 feet in the air. This anomaly was confirmed when I listened to the audio from my micro cassette tape and found I had captured some EVP. I discovered that immediately after I had asked for a sign, two different ghosts had a conversation. The first ghost said, 'There’s no harm in that,' followed by the second ghost replying, 'Yeah, show ‘em the flags, Roy.' Another trip to Lakeview in June of 2003 handed me my first full-bodied apparition experience. I was sitting in my vehicle loading my camera when a man walked out of the main gate. I was mildly upset, thinking that someone had come to lock up the cemetery. He walked right across the small dirt road that my car was sitting on and vanished. He was a younger man wearing a touring cap, a light-colored shirt, and dark pants—he looked to be from about the 1920s." 

Green Mountain Cemetery

Green Mountain Cemetery is located on 35 acres in Montpelier, Vermont that was initially bought by the town and lawyer Calvin Keith. They split the cost. The cemetery was established in 1854 and features terraced lots, sculptures, 2.5 miles of curved roads and lots of vegetation. The Chapel-Vault Building was constructed in 1905 from a generous bequest of John E. Hubbard and can hold up to 60 entombments. The chapel is fairly small and can accommodate 60 people for funeral services. Montpelier's citizens donated a plot called the Soldier's Lot during the American Civil War for the burial of veterans and it is maintained by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. There are six Union veterans buried there. Many Medal of Honor recipients are here, as are Vermont politicians. But probably the most famous grave here is the one that provides our paranormal element.  

John E. Hubbard has a creepy statue sitting atop his plot. His aunt, Fanny Hubbard Kellogg, had died in 1890 childless and a widow. Her estate was worth $300,000 and she planned to leave it to the city of Montpelier. She specifically was going to leave $55,000 for the erection of a chapel and gates at green Mountain and the rest would go to building a library for the town. John had assumed that since he was the only living relative that he would receive the estate. When he heard the will read, he decided to challenge it and this would leave many townspeople thinking very poorly of him. A judge ruled the will invalid because the two witnesses to it said they didn't realize what they were signing. The city took it to the Supreme Court of Vermont, but Hubbard made a deal before the court ruled and he gave Montpelier $30,000 for a new library. He eventually spent another $30,000 on the library to ease the town's distrust of him. Hubbard died in 1899. Professor John W. Burgess wrote of the death, "At midnight the hurricane burst upon us; great trees swayed and houses trembled; torrential rain fell; the lightning was so incessant that it seemed no longer night but brilliant day; and the incessant roar of thunder was like the discharge of a thousand cannon. At daybreak it ceased. . . . Word ran through the town that, in the midst of the tornado, the spirit of Hubbard had departed. Two days later a little funeral cortege, a hearse and two or three carriages, passed down the main avenue of the town to the beautiful Green Mount Cemetery, and the tragedy of that life was ended."

Atop Hubbard's grave is the Greek personification of death, Thanatos. This is a bronze sculpture of a man with his head thrown back and his body wrapped in a billowing shroud. The sculpture was designed by Karl Bitter. There is an inscription on the wall that frames the figure featuring lines from William Cullen Bryan’s poem “Thanatopsis” (“Thoughts on Death”):

Thou go not like the
Quarry slave at night
Scourged to his dungeon
But sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust.

Approach thy grave
Like one who wraps
The Drapery of his couch
About him and lies down
To pleasant dream.

Nobody calls the figure on the grave Thanatos. This is Black Agnes to everybody and there is a legend connected that mirrors the legend about Black Aggie that we shared way back on Ep. 24. It is said that if you sit in its lap during a full moon, you will die within seven days and take seven friends with you! The original legend about Black Agnes goes back to English folklore about a bogeyman called Black Annis. The name comes from an 18th century title deed for a parcel of land named "Black Anny's Bower Close." Black Annis was said to be a blue-faced hag with iron claws and a taste for human flesh. She would venture out at night specifically looking for children. She would eat them and then tan their skins by hanging them on a tree and then eventually wear the skins around her waist. The tale was used to get kids to behave.

The thing not behaving here though is apparently Black Agnes. The statues eyes are said to glow red and it makes creepy noises and sometimes let's out with a blood curdling scream. There’s a decades-old story of three teenagers who sat on Black Agnes during a full moon, trying to show one another how brave they were. When nothing happened, they laughed about it on the way home, sure that they’d put one over on old Black Agnes. One week later, one boy fell and shattered his leg. Another died in a tragic car crash. The third drowned. Pretty crazy story, but the ones connected to Black Aggie are the same. The legend of Black Aggie has reached the ranks of Bloody Mary.  It is claimed that saying Black Aggie three times before a mirror in the bathroom at midnight brings the same results as those brought about by saying Bloody Mary three times. Black Aggie will appear behind you in the mirror and then stab you or take you for a ride to Hell. There have been no reports of Black Aggie being a part of supernatural activity since being removed from the cemetery. This may only be because many people are unaware of her new home or no one who sees the statue realizes that she is part of an ongoing urban legend.

Key West Cemetery

The Key West Cemetery is located at the foot of Solares Hill  and covers nineteen acres. This unique cemetery is similar to the cemeteries of New Orleans. The water table makes it nearly impossible to bury people in the ground here, so most plots are above ground in chests, tombs and mausoleums. There are around 100,000 people buried here, but no one is sure on the exact number because many in the old section are unmarked. This cemetery was established in 1847 after the first cemetery on the island located in coastal sand dunes on Whitehead Point near the West Martello was destroyed by a hurricane in 1846. Bodies kept washing out of it before that, so it was for the better anyway. The land for the new cemetery was bought from L. Windsor Smith. There is a Catholic section in the Northeast corner of the cemetery that was founded in 1861. There is also a section set aside for Cuban independence fighters from the Ten Years' War called "A los martires de cuba." The largest memorial in the cemetery is dedicated to the men who died aboard the U.S.S. Maine when it was blown up in 1898 in Havana Harbor. Two hundred and sixty sailors were killed and two dozen of them are buried in the Key West Cemetery. They are joined by a few other veterans from the Spanish-American War.

Some of the interesting graves here include B.P. “Pearl” Roberts final resting spot. She passed in 1979 and her tombstone reads, "I Told you I was Sick." Gloria M. Russell must have been a fun gal because her headstone reads, "I’m just resting my eyes." The man who owned Sloppy Joe's, Joe Russell, was buried here when he passed in 1941. A man named Manuel Cabeza is buried here and despite the fact that most people probably wouldn't think an island like Key West could have a racist lynching, it did. Cabeza was a World War I vet who had fallen in love with a woman that was of mixed-race. When the Ku Klux Klan heard about this, they decided to teach him a lesson and they tarred and feathered him. Cabeza wanted revenge and so he shot and killed one of the men who had done this to him and he was arrested. This took place on Christmas Eve of 1921 on Duval Street. A posse decided to take justice into their own hands and they broke Cabeza out of jail and lynched him.

There are many, many roosters who run around the cemetery at all hours and they are joined by a couple of spirits. The most prominent ghost is said to belong to a woman who traveled to the island from the Bahamas. Staff members and guests have all claimed to see this Bahamian woman. She doesn't seem to be a nice ghost. Being seen seems to really piss her off and she has become a protector of the cemetery. We know you guys don't sit on tombstones and are careful about walking on graves and such, but some people are not and she gets very angry if she sees this going on. People who experience her rage claim they can feel this very threatening air about them. If they actually see her, she makes threatening gestures. The spirit disappears when approached. Some psychics claim that she is angry because she is looking for someone that she can't find. The other ghost here belongs to a young girl. People claim to hear her calling out and when they follow the voice, they don't find anyone. Many times, they end up at the grave of a young girl. 

Mount Carmel Cemetery

Mount Carmel Cemetery is a large cemetery in the Chicago suburb of Hillside. Mount Carmel covers 214 acres with many notable burials, particularly victims and perpetrators of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Diane has visited this Roman Catholic Cemetery just outside of Chicago and was quite surprised to stumble upon Al Capone's grave. She had no idea he was buried there. Another great plus is that there are over 400 mausoleums! The cemetery was founded in 1901 and holds the burials of over 226,000 people, many of them Italians and this is revealed in much of the Italian customs and imagery.

Being that this is a Roman Catholic cemetery, many clergy are buried here. A large mausoleum houses the remains of bishops and archbishops of Chicago. The structure was designed by architect William J. Brinkmann in the Romanesque style. And you can't miss it because it dominates the cemetery on a hill. The interior is beautiful, resembling a classical chapel with altar, murals and clerestory windows, which let in lots of light to the central part of the mausoleum.

The cemetery had funeral train service for many years that started in 1926 and ended in 1934. The number of notable burials here is outnumbered by gangsters. For every baseball player and actor like Dennis Farina and Cardinal or Bishop, there is a Sam Giancana, Antonio Lombardo, Sam Genna, Mike "he Devil" Genna, Machine Gun Jack McGurn, Frank Capone and Al Capone. Capone was born in Brooklyn in 1899.  Both of his parents had immigrated from Italy.  Capone did well academically in school, but he hated the rules at his Catholic school.  He dropped out when he was fourteen years old because he was facing expulsion for hitting a female teacher in the face.  Like Bugs, Capone found trouble early.  He joined several gangs in New York, finally working his way into the powerful Five Points Gang in Lower Manhattan.  Capone's trouble with women would continue and while he was with this gang, he worked as a bouncer at a nightclub and insulted a woman there.  Her brother took a knife to Capone's face, leaving him with the lifelong scar that lead to his nickname "Scarface."  Capone got married when he was nineteen and moved to Chicago at the age of twenty on Johnny Torrio's invite.  There he would work as a bouncer at a brothel where he would contract the Syphilis that would eventually kill him. His grave simply says "Capone - My Jesus Mercy."

Machine Gun McGurn and Capone both plotted the St. Valentine's Day Massacre that HGB covered way back in Ep. 28. On St. Valentine's Day in 1929, McGurn's crew that he had put together, staged a police raid on Bugs Moran's North Side Gang. The gang thought it was the real deal and they complied, giving up their guns. There were seven of them and they were lined up against a wall and assassinated with seventy rounds of ammunition. It was the most horrific gang slaying in mob history. The victims were John May, Adam Heyer, Peter Gusenberg and his brother Frank, Albert Weinshank, Reinhardt Schwimmer and Albert Kachellek. Both perpetrators of the massacre and victims are buried at Mount Carmel. The most famous burial in the cemetery though isn't a gangster or a mobster. It's the Italian Bride.

The grave of Julia Buccola Petta is known as the Italian Bride and her burial is quite odd. It's not because of the grandiose statue erected over her grave that is a duplicate of her wedding photo, or that she was buried in her wedding dress because she was considered a martyr for having died during childbirth. And it isn't because her child who also died in childbirth is buried with her. The odd thing here is that Julia's mother had her exhumed in 1927 after being buried for six years and Julia's body was found in a state of non-decay. She looked life-like, as though only sleeping. Her skin was still soft and supple. A picture was taken and we agree that Julia looks like she was just buried. However, the baby is in a state of decay as is the coffin. This indicates that this wasn't some kind of trick played by Julia's mother. The mother had claimed to have dreams of her daughter for those six years with Julia saying in those dreams that she was still alive and needed her mother's help. No one could explain what had happened here other than a really great embalming job and/or corpse wax, which is formed during decomposition. Julia's mother not only raised money after the exhumation to build the memorial, but she also attached two pictures to the grave. One was the wedding photo and the other was the postmortem picture after exhumation. And perhaps that is why Julia is at unrest. People report seeing the apparition of a young woman in a white wedding dress walking through the tombstones. The dress is usually glowing. The figure disappears. One little boy had an interaction with Julia's spirit. He got separated from his parents in the cemetery and when they finally found him, he was holding the hand of a woman in white. She disappeared as the parents approached.

We'll never know why some spirits decide to creep among the final resting places of people. Maybe they like the peace and quiet as much as many of us. Maybe the graveyard scene from Disney's Haunted Mansion is really playing out in these cemeteries and we just can't see all the cavorting. Whatever the reason, it does seem that some cemeteries are haunted. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

HGB Ep. 491 - Glen Tavern Inn

Moment in Oddity - Queen Genepil (Suggested by: Brandon Haawk)

Queen Genepil was the last queen consort of Mongolia. She was executed by Stalinists in May of 1938 during the Soviet Union repressions of her country. Although she was queen consort for less than a year, her likeness has gone on to live through pop culture. You see, Queen Genepil, with her porcelain skin and gravity defying hair and headpiece sculptures, inspired the creation of another queen. The queen of Naboo. That's right, Queen Amidala of the Star Wars franchise. Actress Natalie Portman portrayed the iconic character first appearing in The Phantom Menace. Queen Amidala's garments also heavily mimic those of the Mongolian queen. The dress, representative of Naboo tradition, becomes a statement piece throughout the film series. Although Queen Genepil was nearly redacted from history, the fact that she inspired the style of a pop culture character that the whole world is familiar with, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Birth of Jack Dempsey

In the month of June, on the 24th, in 1895, William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey was born in Manassa, Colorado. He was born to Mary and Hiram Dempsey and was part Irish and Cherokee according to self proclaimed ancestry. During his younger years, Jack worked as a farm hand, miner and cowboy around Colorado and Utah. At the time, Dempsey's older brother earned extra money as a prize fighter. His brother was the one to truly teach Jack how to fight. From 1911 to 1916 Dempsey traveled between mining towns to box 'pick-up' fights anywhere the offer arose. He also began going by the boxing name of "Kid Blackie". In 1914, Jack's prizefighting brother Bernie , who fought under the name of 'Jack Dempsey', fell ill and 'Kid Blackie' offered to fill in for him. William Harrison 'Jack' Dempsey won the fight handily fighting under his brother's boxing name and he never relinquished the moniker going forward. His biggest step into boxing fame occurred on Independence Day in 1919. Jack Dempsey took on world heavyweight champion Jess Willard. The champion, standing at 6 foot 6 inches and weighing in at 245 pounds, was a formidable opponent to the 6 foot 1 inch, 187 pound Dempsey. However, Jack's quickness and boxing style left his opponent defeated in the third round, declaring Jack Dempsey the new world heavyweight champion. Dempsey successfully defended his heavyweight title five times over the next six years, in what is considered one of the greatest runs in boxing history.

Glen Tavern Inn (Suggested by: Anna Frias)

The Glen Tavern Inn is located in Santa Paula, California and was a hotel that prospered during the California oil boom. When Prohibition was enacted, the hotel adapted as a speakeasy and brothel. People have died in the hotel and some of their spirits may still be here. A tragic flood in the city left behind spiritual residue as well. Join us as we share the history and hauntings connected to and inside of the Glen Tavern Inn!

Santa Paula is said to be the Citrus Capital of the World. Before the Spanish arrived in 1769, the Chumash tribe was here before that. Franciscan missionairies founded the San Buenaventura Mission. The city was named for the Catholic Saint Paula and was laid out by Nathan Weston Blanchard in 1872 after he bought the initial 2,700 acres. The citrus that is here was first planted by him in 1874. Santa Paula was incorporated in 1902, but things really didn't take off here until the South Mountain Oil Field was discovered just across the Santa Clara River. The oil field reached peak production in the 1950s, but still continues to produce to this day. We can't talk about the history of Santa Paula without discussing the St. Francis Dam Disaster. The St. Francis Dam was started in August of 1924 and it wouldn't hold for long. The dam was completed in May of 1926 and less than two years later, on March 12, 1928, it broke in the middle of the night. A 180-foot-high wall of water, consisting of eleven billion gallons of water, came rushing down the San Francisquito Canyon and flowed into Santa Paula, killing at least 431 people, but estimates are as high as into the 600s. The flow of water went on for four hours and traveled 55 miles until it reached the Pacific Ocean. This flood would be counted as the second worst disaster in California history. The catastrophic failure was blamed on design flaws and a defective soil foundation. Chief engineer William Mulholland's stellar career to this point, was done after this tragedy.

Left behind are the remnants of a blighted area in the San Francisquito Canyon. The government turned a migrant camp that had been here into a public park. This was also where the cottage for the dam keeper sat. His entire family was killed along with an unknown number of migrant workers. A little cemetery on a hill holds the remains of 100 people, including a whole family ranging in ages from eight to thirty. Another grave is for a little blonde-haired boy who was found deceased, wearing a cowboy outfit. It was later found that his family had been camping and all were killed. When western star Tom Mix heard about the little boy and his cowboy outfit, he paid for his burial. An interesting story claims that a Navajo shaman had apparently dreamed about the disaster before it happened. His people lived and worked on the ranch of film star Harry Carey Sr. who was away in New York at the time. The shaman called him and asked if it was okay if he moved his people back to the reservation for safety and Harry agreed. The dam broke two days later.

There are hauntings connected to the cemetery and the flood. People who try to take pictures in the cemetery, usually have issues with them turning out. Videos do the same thing. A local historian was videotaping in the cemetery and everything looked like it was running good with a visible picture showing and the camera indicating that it was recording, but when he got back to town, he found the videotape was blank. He didn't give up. He returned to record for a second time, but this time his camera caught fire. The park has weird stuff going on at night and most people try to avoid it after dark. Creepy disembodied voices are heard, people have been touched and shadow figures that disappear have been seen. That is really freaky when it is foggy and the shadows are seen in the mist.

Andrew and Joyce Ponton bought property in the area and they have had many unusual things happen. The couple had a grown daughter, but no children living with them. So imagine Joyce's surprise when after painting an inside door jamb, she found a child's fresh hand print. The couple claim to sometimes hear the crying of a baby at a nearby creek bed. The most bizarre thing Joyce reported was that a cast iron horse trough that was so heavy it could only be moved by a crane, had moved itself several feet and completely turned around. The trough was still full of water and there were no drag marks or footprints near it. Joyce didn't believe in ghosts until that moment and she said, "I have to admit the (the horse trough) was strange. That’s the one thing we’ve never been able to explain.” And on that child's hand print, a man was painting his barn in the area and had the same thing happen to him with a child's hand print appearing in the wet paint. There were no children on the property.

Santa Paula has the largest number of historic residential and commercial buildings in Ventura County and one of those places is the Glen Tavern Inn. The hotel was built in 1911 in the Tudor-Craftsman style as designed by architects Burns and Hunt. A group of twenty-five local businessmen funded the building of the hotel. They put it in a prime location right across from the train depot. The hotel was 2.5 stories tall and covered with a stucco facade and dark stained wood shingles. The roof had a gabled dormer in the front and six gabled dormers in the rear. The lobby and stairwell were Craftsman in design and decorated with heavy wood columns, wainscotting, boxed beams and a massive stone fireplace.

The hotel saw a lot of traffic because the trains brought in many people due to Santa Paula's growing citrus and oil industries. The Glen Tavern Inn became a social center. It also attracted Hollywood, which found the cozy hamlet to be the perfect location for filming Westerns with the vistas and hills in the background. The hotel housed many Universal Studio actors. Famous people who have stayed here include pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, William Jennings Bryan, John Wayne, Carol Lombard, Clark Gable, Harry Houdini and Steve McQueen. The stars and other guests not only enjoyed the rooms, but also the restaurant and bar.The hotel was so popular, it often had issues with being able to accommodate all the people who wanted to stay. Charles Estep bought the hotel from the city in 1919 and he converted the attic into more rooms. During Prohibition, that added third floor was converted into a speakeasy and brothel with gambling. 

As the years progressed, Hollywood moved on and the oil industry slowed down and so did people coming to stay at the inn. During World War II, the government was using Port Hueneme (hu nay mee) as a temporary wartime Naval base. They needed more space to house people and they leased the Glen Tavern Inn from Estep, so they could convert it into a women's dormitory. This started in 1943 and continued through 1946. Let's take a little side trip here. The Father of Port Hueneme was Thomas Robert Bard. He was a founder of the Union Oil Company, which was headquartered in Santa Paula. It was called Union because it was the combining of three oil companies: the Hardison and Stewart Oil Company, the Sespe Oil Company, and the Torrey Canon Oil Company. That headquarters building still stands and is a beautiful commercial Queen Anne style building that houses the California Oil Museum. Bard and his wife Mollie built a mansion in Port Hueneme that they called Berylwood in 1912. This was designed by architect Myron Hunt. Unfortunately, Bard died in 1915. Mollie stayed at the mansion until she passed in the 1930s and the home eventually became an officers club for the new naval base. Today, the location is part of Naval Base Ventura, known as the Bard Mansion Catering & Conference Center where they host weddings, meetings, celebrations and business lunches. Bard and Mollie loved the house and have remained in the afterlife. People claim to hear disembodied whispers. Mollie likes to wander the upper floor and has been captured in photos.

A traveling journalist named Frederick visited the mansion in 2020 and he told Backpackerverse, "It was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made, but of course I didn’t know it at the time. At the time, I thought I would walk through the house, snap a few creepy photos and be done with it, but the house had other plans for me. I received a full blown tour of the house, then I got permission to go through by myself in order to get some good photographs. I remember looking down at my camera as I walked through the hall. Something on the camera absorbed my attention and I found myself standing at the base of the stairwell. I remember I began to hear whispers. I knew that everyone else who had gone through the house with me that day were all grouped together in the kitchen, and yet the whispers were steadily pouring down from the upper level above me. ‘Hello?’ I called out and the whispering seemed to cease. Puzzled, I convinced myself that it was just an illusion because of the old duct work and that I was actually hearing the conversation taking place in the kitchen. I took a couple more photos and made my way through the house, only to find that the kitchen and all the rest of the house was empty. I glanced out one of the windows at the front of the house and saw that everyone who was in my group was already outside. I was alone in the house. So when I went back to the staircase and continued to hear the whispering, I became thoroughly creeped out. I looked up the landing and yelped out loud when I heard one of the stairs creak under the weight of something I couldn’t see. I don’t remember what I said to the group, but I booked it out of Port Hueneme then and there. After I got my photographs developed the following week, I was shocked to see this strange floating white orb that seemed to appear in all of the photos I took by the stairwell."

The glory days for the inn seemed over as the train depot closed down in the 1960s. Economic development bypassed the inn and ownership started shuffling. Eventually, it became a glorified flophouse and started deteriorating. Jennett Investment Group came along in 2005 and they envisioned bringing the inn back to its former glory and they spent two years renovating. The renovation hit a hiccup with a fire in 2006, but firefighters got it out quickly and the damaged part was rebuilt. In 2007, Glen Tavern Inn reopened with 36 guest rooms and a restaurant and lounge. The restoration even won some awards.

The Glen Tavern Inn is reputedly quite haunted and has been featured on many paranormal programs including "The Dead Files" and "Ghost Adventures." What is responsible for this activity? Stories are told around town that a cowboy was shot in the head after playing poker at the inn. He had been the big winner and taken all of another cowboy's weekly wages. That cowboy was angry because he thought the other man had cheated and so he followed the big winner to his room and shot him. The hotel claims to have found evidence to support this story. A cowboy hat with a bullet hole in it was found in a crawl space, but the hat went missing at some point. People claim the cowboy's name was Calvin. Another story told is that the body of a decapitated prostitute was found in the closet of Room 307. Her name was said to be Rose. In 2008, a man named Henry hanged himself in the closet of a room on the second floor.

People who have seen Calvin the cowboy claim that the full-bodied apparition appears to be tall and thin with long hair and a goatee. He is dressed in a white shirt. People have caught him in pictures and they know he is a ghost because he walks through walls. Other ghosts who are here include a spirit that looks out the window of Room 23, a female ghost in Room 104 who gives a speech complete with a toast and the restaurant has had spoons fly across the dining area and chairs have moved by themselves.

Monica De La Torre's family has owned the inn for years. Her apartment had been Room 106 and she experienced something strange right after moving in to the hotel. She was putting books and collectibles up on some selves in the family room. The door to the apartment was on that wall and she saw someone enter the apartment out of the corner of her eye. Monica looked to see who it was and it was a woman in a dress from a prior era who just looked at her, turned and walked through the wall. Monica completely froze in fear.

Psychic Patrick Smith stayed at the Glen Tavern Inn and he says he entered his room and saw a woman leaning over the bed as though she were tending to someone who was sick. He felt like he was witnessing a moment frozen in time. A housekeeper named Neria told Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures when they investigated in 2013 that she sometimes sees what she describes as white smoke in Room 307 that takes the shape of a human and then dissipates. She is nervous anytime she is in that room. Billy of Ghost Adventures stayed overnight in this room without knowing anything about the stories told about it. The Ovilus said some words before he went to sleep. In the middle of the night, a light anomaly is caught on the night vision camera as it drops down from the ceiling to Billy's face and he awakens immediately. He grabs the Ovilus to see if he can communicate. the Ovilus says "blow," then "gentle" and then Billy feels something touching his thigh and just as he tells the camera out loud that he felt a spasm on his thigh, the Ovilus says "thigh." Billy was awakened again later by a loud knock from inside the closet.

An elderly couple were staying on the second floor and they found a young girl in their room. There was a Quinceanera going on at the hotel and the group had blocked off 20 rooms for the event. This couple figured the little girl belonged to that group and they called Monica to come up and get her out from under the bed. There was nothing under the bed. On another occasion Neria was asked by some patrons on the third floor if there were a bunch of kids staying on the second floor. They had heard them being rambunctious through the night, which made it difficult for them to sleep. No children were staying in the inn at that time. This is a common complaint of guests, hearing children running, laughing and knocking on doors. A couple staying in Room 205 were awakened one night when a young girl came into their room. They were about to get up and figure out where she belonged when she disappeared. Construction workers were doing a renovation when they witnessed a young girl running down the corridor and through a wall.

Ghost Adventures conducted a seance in the lobby with psychic Patrick Smith. They were joined by actress Brit Morgan who had investigated Room 307 in the past. She said that they heard a knock from inside the closet, which matched up with what happened to Billy. Brit heard loud voices in the hallway around 2:30am and when she looked out the door, she found an empty hallway. As the group is getting ready to conduct the seance, they hear the whistling of a little girl coming from upstairs. They hear the same little girl during the seance a few times, singing and crying. After they break the circle to start investigating, the Ovilus said "girl." The owner Monica was part of the seance and she claimed to be getting messages in her mind about a little girl named Emily who was killed in Room 220. The Spirit Box later would answer the name "Ingrid" when they ask what the little girl's name was. When Zak asked who she was, they get "majita" over the box. That is Spanish for little lady.

Paula wrote in 2016, "I always wanted to stay at the Glen Tavern Inn since watching Ghost Adventures a few months ago. So on Memorial Day weekend my boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to the Glen Tavern Inn in Santa Paula. I managed to book room 307 which is supposed to be the most haunted room. We arrived kinda late, around 8pm. Upon checking in we asked about our room and was told that the 3rd floor is still all original and not remodeled. Upon entering the room, a slight chill came over us, and there was the notorious haunted closet where the woman was murdered. I eventually fell asleep while my boyfriend continued to hear noises coming from the haunted closet for about 30 minutes. The room was clean, staff very friendly and I think we will be returning to the Glen Tavern Inn at some point soon. In the am, we went into the closet and managed to get some creepy EVP's that blew us away. If you're looking for a hotel and cemetery to ghost hunt, it's worth your while to request room 307. I also caught a couple of orbs. One on floor 3, and the other at the top of the stairwell on floor 3 heading down to the second floor."

Jack Osbourne brought his mom Sharon along to investigate the Glen Tavern Inn for an episode of "Night of Terror." The big news coming out of that was that Sharon was hospitalized while filming the show. Apparently she passed out. Nobody is sure why. We don't believe that episode has been released. Dead Files investigated the property in 2014 and Amy claimed to see some powerful entities on the third floor. One sinister shadow figure gave her the impression that it gets pleasure from killing women. The main gist of her and Steve's investigation centered more on the Jennett family who owned the property at that time and the strong connection matriarch Rosanna had with it. Her daughter Gabriella was worried about that connection. Rosanna admitted being obsessed with renovating the hotel. She felt the hotel needed her.

Many people stay at the hotel without any issues. Others stay here with the specific goal of interacting with spirits. And they usually do. Is the Glen Tavern Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 8, 2023

HGB Ep. 490 - Palace of Versailles


Moment in Oddity - The Great Potoo Bird

There are many strange and captivating animals on this planet. One of which I recently discovered is the Great Potoo bird. They are found in the Neo-tropics and look more like flying black eyed muppet child than an actual bird. There are seven species of potoo and the majority have eyes that look similar to owl eyes being that they are quite large for the size of their head and tend to have yellow or orange irises. However, the Great Potoo or Nyctibius (Nick-tih-BYE-us) grandis have very dark brown irises giving them the distinctive appearance of a black eyed child or demon possessed bird. They are fuel for nightmares. All potoos are nocturnal insectivores with a beak so thin it looks more like claw coming out of the center of its head, that is until they open their giant maw! Their mouths opens from ear to ear, giving them the appearance of being ALL mouth, the only thing one can compare this to is perhaps what Barbara, played by Geena Davis, does to her head in Beetlejuice. Thus displaying how she plans to scare off the new home owners. If the mental picture I'm painting for you isn't enough, then google their call and imagine hearing that in the pitch dark! Shivers! They are also able to camouflage extremely well, so basically you would just be left wondering what monstrous creature is preparing to eat you. I love all creatures and given the opportunity, would certainly interact with this bizarre, black eyed bird, but as you can tell from my descriptions, the Great Potoo, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - CA Proposition 13

In the month of June, on the 6th, in 1978, California voted in Proposition 13 by an overwhelming margin. This was an amendment to California's Constitution that signified the taxpayers’ collective response to dramatic increases in property taxes and a growing state revenue surplus. The amendment reverted the most recent assessments to the 1975 market value levels. This limited the property tax rate to one percent plus the rate needed to fund local voter-approved bonded indebtedness. It also limited future property tax increases to a maximum of 2% per year. Under Proposition 13, California properties would be reassessed to current market value only when there was a change in ownership or if the property had undergone new construction. This proposition led to the possibilities of significant variances in property taxes with the assessed values being based solely on the dates the properties were purchased. Long time owners could only be raised the 2% limit from year to year while a neighboring property of similar land and build that was recently purchased, could be significantly higher to approximate market levels.

Palace of Versailles

The entire estate that is part of the Palace of Versailles covers 1,978 acres. The grounds are immaculate and amazing and the palace itself defies words. What started as a simple hunting lodge, became the seat of power in France and is today a museum featuring the most exquisite artwork and craftsmanship of any palace in the world. The palace has also been the setting for a strange time travel story and for ghost stories. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Palace of Versailles. 

The earliest mention of Versailles is in a document dating to 1038. The lord of the village here was Hugo de Versaillis and that is whom it is named for and the word Versailles means "turn the soil." This was a small village, but it did manage to flourish because it was on a road leading from Paris to Normandy and so it benefitted from the trade along the route. The Plague and Hundred Years War devastated Versailles. King Louis XIII would make visits to the area to hunt and he grew a real fondness for the feudal village. In 1624, he ordered that a small hunting lodge should be built. This was a cozy chateau made from red brick and was designed by Philibert Le Roy. The western side of the chateau had an ornamental garden with a fountain and pathways. By 1632, the King was enlarging the chateau, adding exterior towers to the four corners and a dry moat. 

King Louis XIV would succeed Louis XIII and his getting into this world wasn't easy. His parents had been married for twenty-three years and his mother had suffered four stillbirths before she was able to carry him to full-term and birth. People called this a miracle and his name reflected that as it meant "God-given." On a side note, Louis XIII was said to have fathered an illegitimate son who was imprisoned during the rule of Louis XIV and is known most famously as "The Man in the Mask." King Louis XIV was known as the Sun King and he took the throne in 1643 after his father succumbed to tuberculosis. He had a love for Versailles, just as his father did. He made the palace his primary residence and brought the French Court and Government there as well in 1682. The foundations of the grand palace would be started during his reign, but the project would be abandoned when he died in 1715. The palace would sit neglected for several years, but King Louis XV would come in 1722 and he decided to complete his great-grandfather's work. What happened here is that Louis XIV's son and grandson both died before he did, so his successor became his great-grandson. Louis XIV had designed the palace to have large, public spaces inside and Louis XV didn't care for that, so he designed smaller, more private rooms. He also completed the Royal Opera House.

Although Louis XV clearly enjoyed the Palace of Versailles, he never officially lived there. He was nearly killed in 1757 when a man named Robert-Francois Damiens stabbed him between the ribs. Thankfully it was really cold and the King was layered up , so the knife wasn't able to penetrate deeply. Damiens was tortured, drawn and quartered. Perhaps some people might see this as a fitting punishment for trying to kill the King, but the Parliament didn't care for it and neither did much of the French public. Historians point to this moment as being the start of the downfall for the French monarchy. Louis XV was succeeded by Louis XVI. Louis XVI would be the last king of France. He was born in 1754 and he became king in 1774. A few years before that, in 1770, he married Marie Antoinette of Austria. He was 15 and she was 14. 

Louis was ill prepared to be king. He was the second son and never meant to be king, but his older brother died when he was only nine-years-old. Both his parents had died from tuberculosis by 1767. King Louis had some good ideas at the beginning of his reign. He wanted to abolish serfdom, which didn't please the French nobility. Louis also embraced non-Catholics, removing the land tax and labor tax and he abolished the death penalty for deserters. But he also had some bad ideas. He deregulated the grain market and before long, bread prices were way up and there was food scarcity. And although we Americans appreciated his support of our fight for independence, he drove France into debt and a financial crisis helping the colonists. Riots began in the streets as the French people became more displeased with the monarchy represented by Marie and Louis. And the public saw Antoinette as an unwelcome foreigner. They disliked the alliance with Austria.

King Louis was born at the Palace of Versailles and that is where he lived. He and Marie had four children and adopted six children. Marie was a fashion icon who loved to wear her hair big and she loved jewelry and her wealth. Her annual clothing budget was $3.6 million in today's dollars. She had trouble with learning as a child and some called her simple minded, but part of who she was came from being raised to be an aristocrat and she was continuously waited on hand and foot. Although history has credited her with saying that the French people could eat cake when she heard that there was a bread shortage, she never made that statement. Marie also got embroiled in a scandal over a very expensive stolen diamond necklace that she actually had nothing to do with, but the French people still blamed her for it. The Petit Trianon on the palace estate became her personal estate and she embellished it greatly with artwork and furnishings. Now while she seems like an out of touch rich woman, Marie was generous. She had houses built on the estate for the poor to live in and she took part in charitable endeavors. But all that good couldn't heal the rift that was growing between the monarchy and the French people. 

By 1789, the public had had enough. A meeting of the Estates-General was convened to discuss raising tax money. The representatives of the people of France were known as the Third Estate. Whenever there was a vote the First Estate, which was the Clergy, and the Second Estate, which were the nobility, usually would join forces to vote against the Third Estate. The Third Estate was done with this business and they proceeded with a new general assembly to write a new constitution. King Louis allowed the assembly to go forward, but he also gathered his troops. This worried the people and eventually an angry crowd stormed the Bastille fortress in July of 1789. This was the beginning of the French Revolution. 

Women marched to the Palace of Versailles in October of 1789 and they demanded that the starving people be given bread. Thousands soon joined them and the palace distributed bread, but it soon ran out. By the next morning, the protestors had broken into the palace. The Marquis de Lafayette rescued the Queen and escorted the royals back to Paris. A former lover of the Queen's, the Swedish Count Von Fersen, helped the royal couple escape the palace where they were imprisoned in Paris. The couple dressed as peasants to throw off the guards and boarded a carriage headed to the French border. Marie and Louis made horrible peasants and they drew too much attention to themselves and soon a man recognized Louis from his face on the paper money of France. The couple were arrested and taken back to Paris. Legend claims that Marie's hair turned to white from her fear and shock. King Louis was guillotined in January of 1793 and nine months later, Marie was also guillotined. Many people soaked their sleeves in her blood. The monarchy of France was finished. The Palace of Versailles, fortunately, was left undamaged.

Many of the royal possessions were taken to museums and much of the other stuff was auctioned off. Napoleon became Emperor of France in the early 1800s and he decided not to live at the palace because he didn't want to give an image of the monarchy. He lived at the Trianon. The palace property was converted into a museum and sometimes served other roles for the national government. It played host to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, that ended WWI. The Palace has been expanded and renovated through the years and usually gets around eight million visitors a year. There are over 2,300 rooms in the Palace and the property includes the Great Stables, vast gardens, the Royal Chapel and the Estate of Trianon. In 1979, the Palace was named a World Heritage site.

One of the most impressive areas of the palace is The Hall of Mirrors. This is the most famous room in the Palace. There had once been a large terrace here that opened onto the garden that was between the King's Apartments and the Queen's Apartment's. That terrace had been designed by Louis Le Vau and it was certainly not something to add to his resume because people thought it looked awkward and it was susceptible to bad weather. It was demolished and replaced with the Hall, starting in 1678. The hall would take six years to complete and was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in the Baroque style. The Hall has 17 windows on the wall facing the park and on the opposite wall are 17 mirrors. These mirrors were made from 350 individual mirror surfaces and added a great effect of mirror the park into the interior of the Palace. These mirrors were a sign of the wealth of the monarchy as producing mirrors was expensive. These mirrors have a dark legend connected to them. The French didn't know how to make mirrors, so they hired Venetian artisans to create the mirrors. The Venetian government didn't want the secrets of the mirror-making techniques to be known, so they had the artisans assassinated. We don't think this bloody tale is true as the order for the mirrors went to a French factory and this broke the monopoly Venice had on mirror-making.

The Hall is lit by massive chandeliers and there is lots of gold coloring everywhere. Originally, 3,000 candles would be used to light the Hall. The vaulted ceiling features 30 paintings by Le Brun that pay tribute to France's economic and political successes. There are Rouge de Rance pilasters topped with capitals of gilded bronze. Le Brun designed these as well, incorporating the national emblems of a fleur-de-lis topped by a royal sun between two Gallic roosters. Originally, there had been solid silver furniture in here that was melted down and coined by Louis XIV to finance the War of the League of Augsburg. The other original furnishings were lost during the French Revolution. The furniture in there today is from the 19th century. Sculptures in the room are marble and porphyry busts of eight Roman emperors and then there are Greek and Roman deities that have been paid tribute to, which include Venus, Hermes, Bacchus, the Muses and Diana. Louis XIV visited the Hall every day, which makes sense since it was mainly a tribute to him. Court festivities were held in here like balls and weddings. This is where Louis XVI and Marie were married.

The other jewel of the Palace is the Royal Chapel, which has been under restoration for several years. This is said to be the spiritual legacy of Louis XIV and this was his last major building project. It was announced in 1682, but work didn't start until 1699 and took eleven years to complete. The Chapel stands taller than the Palace at nearly 132 feet. Hardouin-Mansart designed the Chapel. The stonework facade is interrupted by large windows, there are Corinthian pilasters and there are 30 statues made by 16 sculptors on the balustrade. The roof has decorative lead work that was once covered in gold leaf. The interior has frescoes on the ceiling, stained glass windows and several free-standing columns. A large ornate organ, which was designed by Clicquot, provided music. This was decorated with a relief of King David. There is a balcony with the royal gallery where the king and his family sat. The ladies of the court sat in side galleries.

Other highlights of the Palace include the Gallery of Great Battles, which covers nearly the entire first floor of the South Wing. The Gallery is decorated with marble and is lit by glass ceilings in the vault. There are 30 paintings that depict 15 centuries of French military successes and 80 busts of officers killed in battle. Bronze tables feature the names of princes, and other officers who were wounded or killed. This is the largest room in the Palace and was completed in 1837. There are several historic galleries to visit like the Empire Rooms, Coronation Room, Crusades Rooms and the North and South Attics. And the King's State Apartment and the Countess Du Barry's Apartments are not to be missed. The Countess was Louis XV last mistress. The apartments are lavish and reached by the King's Staircase. They open up onto the Marble and Stag Courtyards.

The most well known paranormal story connected to the palace has been described as a time travel event. For us, a ghost encounter could just simply be a time/space slip and so that could be what had happened here. Charlotte Anne Moberly was the headmistress of St. Hugh's College for Women in Oxford. Her assistant had been a former student of the college named Eleanor Jourdain. These two English ladies decided to take a trip to France and they couldn't resist the opportunity to visit the Palace of Versailles. It was a hot summer day in August of 1901 when the ladies arrived at the palace. After touring the palace, they decided to walk over to Trianon. They got a bit turned around and asked a couple of men for directions. They were struck at the look of the men. They looked like they were dressed in costumes: green coats and three-cornered hats. They also were carrying spades. As the women continued along their route, they both started to feel a bit distressed and they couldn't explain why. They ran into another man who was sitting near a Chinese kiosk and he stared at the women in a menacing way. Miss Moberly felt even more distressed after this, but then another man with curly hair and dark eyes came up to them and he spoke in a language that was hard to understand and he seemed to be telling them to continue along a path to the right. A bit down this way, the ladies saw a woman who was wearing a period dress and white hat, drawing a picture. Miss Moberly was very disconcerted at this point.

The women returned to Paris and Miss Moberly asked Miss Jourdain, "Do you think the Petit Trianon is haunted?" Without hesitation, Miss Jourdain answered, "Yes." They discussed everything they saw, compared notes and decided that something strange had happened to them. The women had each noticed little things that seemed off. Not just in regards to the people they met, but with their surroundings. There was no wind and everything seemed flat about the landscape. A woman standing outside of a house with a jug seemed almost to be a wax figure. As Miss Moberly thought about the woman who was drawing, she became convinced that the woman had been Marie Antoinette. They returned to the location several times and tried to retrace their steps and never found a landscape or buildings that matched what they had seen during their first weird visit. The two women decided to risk ridicule and wrote of their expierience in a book they published in 1911 under the title "An adventure," translated as “Les fantômes de Trianon” in French. The book was actually very successful. And while many people believed that the women just made up the story, a discovery lends credence to their story. An old architectural plan of the Trianon was discovered and it revealed that a Chinese kiosk had indeed existed in 1774 as did a bridge the women suggested they crossed that was no longer on the property. 

Skeptics have debunked the story as a possible hallucination or embellished story. Each time the story was printed, it did seem to be more embellished. Art historian and biographer Philippe Jullian wrote in his 1965 biography about an aristocratic French poet named Robert de Montesquiou. He apparently lived near the palace grounds and he liked to host fancy dress parties in which his friends would wear costumes, particularly period costumes. Jullian reasoned that the women simply stumbled upon one of his parties. Brian Dunning of Skeptoid wrote of the experience, "It was only after much discussion, note-sharing, and historical research that Moberly and Jourdain came up with the time period as 1789 and assigned identities to a few of the characters they saw, including Marie Antoinette herself as the lady sketching on the lawn." Dunning figured since the ladies were lost that they had stumbled upon another property and that was where the bridges and kiosks they had described were located. So what happened here?

There is another account that claims some similar weird happenings. That account goes that Miss Jourdain and Miss Moberly were not the only witnesses to the time slip phenomena at Versailles. An English family who lived for two years in an apartment overlooking the gardens observed similar happenings throughout their residence and when they returned later for a visit it became evident that they had never seen the modern (early 20th C.) Versailles while they were living there. They also observed the painting lady while in the gardens, and she pulled her canvas away when the son of the family (himself an artist) tried to get a closer view.

So maybe these were all ghosts that the women had seen or maybe it was some kind of weird time slip or maybe it was nothing supernatural at all, but that isn't the only paranormal thing that has happened at the palace. Former occupants may be here now in spirit form. The most infamous couple to live here, of course, were King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Lots of trauma is connected here. We have this couple being whisked away by an angry crowd and they were ultimately beheaded and then there was the French Revolution. Visitors and staff claim to feel cold spots and to see white mists by Marie Antoinette’s bed in Petit de Trianon. Apparitions are seen in the Queen’s apartment and this is where Marie's spirit seems to spend most of her time. Marie's ghost does get around too. She is also said to haunt the La Conciergerie, where she was held captive for five weeks until her beheading in 1792. This is Paris' oldest prison and the Queen's sobs are said to still be heard to this day.

King Louis XVI's apparition roams the halls of the palace. Some wonder if he is looking for his family. Orbs have been seen, cold spots have been felt and other apparitions have been seen. One of the other ghosts is said to belong to Benjamin Franklin. He had visited the royal couple in 1778 and perhaps he so enjoyed his stay that he likes to hang around in the afterlife. Former President Charles de Gaulle had used  the Northern wing of Grand Trianon as his offices during his Presidency and his spirit has been seen a few times. The Grand Trianon also hosts the spirit of Napolean Bonparte who stayed there with his second wife on several occasions.

Maree wrote, "I visited Versailles in 2007 and I assure you that there are ghosts in that place. I felt really bad in Marie Antoinette's room, I felt cold, I had the feeling of extreme sadness, fear and a lot of anger. I heard voices, sounds of metal banging, things breaking and footsteps. And yet, I was alone, on a stairway near the queen's room. I dragged myself to one of the gardens, where there was a fountain and this garden was dead; the air is heavy, there are no animals like birds, butterflies, nothing. Only this heavy silence. It is oppressive and that experience scared me to death. I'll never be in this place again."

The Palace of Versailles was the setting for some important historical events, not just for France, but for the world. Did a bizarre time slip occur here? Are there spirits wandering around the property? Is the Palace of Versailles haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

HGB Ep. 489 - Pickfair

Moment in Oddity -  USS O'Bannon (Suggested by: Jared Rang)

There's an interesting Navy legend involving the USS O'Bannon which was a Fletcher-class destroyer. It was the Navy's most decorated ship of that class during WWII, having earned 17 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. The legend surrounding this ship involves a battle with a Japanese submarine. The event took place in April of 1943. The O'Bannon spotted the Japanese sub cruising on the ocean's surface. Initially the plan was to ram the sub, however the captain was uncertain if the submarine could be a mine layer which would have resulted in blowing up the USS O'Bannon. At the last minute the captain ordered the rudder swung hard to avoid collision. This caused the O'Bannon to align directly along side the sub, making it impossible for the destroyer's guns to hit the submarine. As it turned out, there were several Japanese on top of the sub appearing to have been sunbathing. Many different versions of this legend have the sailors then pelting the submarine with potatoes the Japanese undoubtedly believing the potatoes were hand grenades. The distraction gave the USS O'Bannon enough time to pull far enough away from the submarine so as to take aim and fire upon it. The sub was hit but still submerged, allowing the destroyer to sail over the top of it and deploy a depth charge assault. Of all the battles the USS O'Bannon participated in, employing a strategy of pulverizing a sub by pelting potatoes so proficiently as to gain the upper hand, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Eruption of Mount Pinatubo

In the month of June, on the 15th, in 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted. This was the second largest volcanic eruption of this century. A precursory 7.8 magnitude earthquake in July of 1990 added to the stressors in the earth's crust. Although the volcano had a short period of time with an increase of steam emissions after the earthquake, its 500 year old slumber appeared relatively undisturbed. However, by March and April of 1991, magma began rising towards the volcano's surface, causing several small earthquakes. Steam blasts created three small craters on the northern side as well. Sadly the surrounding communities were densely populated and the eruption was determined to be the largest on record to affect such an area. It was truly a cataclysmic event, ejecting more than one cubic mile of matter. The ash cloud rose 22 miles into the sky and a blanket of volcanic ash covered the surrounding areas. Some ash fell as far away as the Indian Ocean and satellites tracked the ash cloud several times around the earth. The eruption initially killed 350 souls however due to disease break outs in evacuation camps, the total loss was brought up to 722. The event left more than 200,000 people homeless. The impacts of Mount Pinatubo's eruption continue to this day.

Pickfair (Suggested by: Jennifer Almond)

The Pickfair estate was once one of the most lavish properties in Hollywood. This had been the home of old Hollywood stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and was previously a hunting lodge. Pickford would be the first to talk about haunting activity in her home starting in the 1930s. Stories would continue through the years until Pia Zadora bought the property and demolished the historic mansion, claiming that the paranormal activity was getting out of hand. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Pickfair!

The Golden Age of Hollywood started around 1915 and this launched the Silent Era of film making. The Silent Era would last until 1929 and two of its biggest stars were Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Mary Pickford went from playing waifish young girls in silent movies to becoming one of the most powerful women in Hollywood. She was born in 1892 as Gladys Marie Smith in Toronto, Ontario. Her father worked odd jobs, but he had a hard time as he struggled with alcoholism. He eventually abandoned his family and died when Mary was seven-years-old. Her mother Charlotte took in boarders to make ends meet and one of those people was the theatrical stage manager for Cummings Stock Company. He hired Charlotte to play the organ and her daughters Mary and Lottie to act in a play called The Silver King. And the Smith family was off and running, touring the US by rail and performing in small theaters. This not only included Mary, her sister Lottie and mother Charlotte, but also brother Jack. Mary, who was still known as Gladys then, would finally land a Broadway play in 1907 and that is when she took on her stage name, Mary Pickford.

D.W. Griffith screen tested Mary and hired her for a part in the silent film "The Lonely Villa" in 1909. Mary was drawn to the big screen because it was simpler than stage acting. Pickford signed with the Biograph Company, Griffith's company, and landed more money than other actors they had signed, $10 a day with a guarantee of $40 a week. Pickford played all kinds of parts, both bit parts and leading roles. In her first year, she appeared in 51 films. Pickford moved onto Universal Pictures for awhile, but eventually went back to Biograph. Pickford was being referred to as "Blondilocks" or "The Girl with the Golden Curls." She was a star and famous by the 1920s and a silent-film journalist wrote of her, "The best known woman who has ever lived, the woman who was known to more people and loved by more people than any other woman that has been in all history." Pickford starred in 52 feature films and managed to score a record-breaking salary. She was the first actress to sign a million-dollar contract. And she became "America's Sweetheart."

Not only was her star rising, but Pickford's power in Hollywood grew as well. In 1919, she formed the film production company United Artists with D.W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin. Through the 1920s, her films each grossed over $1 million. She was flying high and then came...the talkies. Pickford won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her first talkie, Coquette, but it was downhill from there. There were many reasons that her star faded. She was taking on older characters and audiences just weren't interested and Mary cut off her famous ringlets and went for a bob. Pickford retired from acting in 1933. She was married three times. Her first husband was Owen Moore and they married in 1911. The marriage struggled with Moore's alcoholism and there were reports of domestic violence. They rarely lived together and divorced in 1920. This was after she had already started an affair with Douglas Fairbanks. 

We've visited the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and we saw Douglas Fairbanks burial. It's a large plot with a reflecting pool. He only lived to the age of 56. He was born as Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman in 1883 in Denver, Colorado. His father was pursuing mining interests in the Rocky Mountains and abandoned the family when Douglas was five-years-old. Douglas' mother decided to name him and his brother for her first husband who had died from tuberculosis, John Fairbanks. Just like Pickford, Fairbanks started acting at a young age and started in the theater. He quit school at 15 and traveled across the country with an acting troupe. In 1901, he settled in New York and got his first Broadway part. In 1907, he married the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Anna Beth Sully. The couple moved to Los Angeles and Fairbanks signed with Triangle Pictures and he began working with D.W. Griffith. That was in 1915, but by 1916 Fairbanks was ready to be on his own and he formed his own company named for himself. He then got signed with Paramount.

Pickford and Fairbanks met at a party in 1916 and were immediately drawn to each other. The two began an affair and traveled together to sell war bonds in 1917 with Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin and Pickford were the highest paid stars in Hollywood and Fairbanks was the most popular. They all made a force to be reckoned with and their formation of United Artists would solidify that fact. Sully granted Fairbanks a divorce in 1918, but as we mentioned earlier, Pickford wasn't divorced until 1920. Fairbanks would marry her twenty-six days after the divorce was granted. The press referred to the event as "Everybody's Hero" marrying "America's Sweetheart." They were Hollywood royalty and they would own their own noble manor, Pickfair. Clearly named for the both of them.

Fairbanks bought 18 acres in Beverly Hills that held a hunting lodge. This was a building designed by architect Horatio Cogswell for attorney Lee Allen Phillips of Berkeley Square. Lots of renovating needed to be done to transform the lodge into the couple's perfect mansion. They hired architect Wallace Neff and over the next four years he transformed the house into a mock Tudor 4-story, 25-room mansion and a swimming pool was added, which made this the first house in Los Angeles to have a pool. The property also had tennis courts, garages, stables, a large guest wing and servants quarters. The interior was decadent with mahogany and bleached pine lining the halls, frescos on the ceilings, mirrored decorative niches and parquet flooring. Larger windows were installed to let in as much light as possible. There was an underground running track so Fairbanks could run in the nude and there was also an Old West-style saloon, which would later hold a collection of 1907 Remington rifles. The couple filled the house with the finest furnishings - much of it antique 18th-century French and English period pieces - and high quality art with a vast collection of Chinese objects and art that Pickford and Fairbanks had collected on their many trips to Asia. A couple of pieces from that collection include a pair of fine Chinese carved rhinoceros tusks and a Thai damascene silver lotus form covered urn, which the King of Siam had given Pickford.

Life Magazine described Pickfair as "a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House... and much more fun." And everybody wanted to visit Pickfair. The 1920s were a grand time for Pickfair and for Pickford and Fairbanks. The mansion was the social center of Beverly Hills. The house hosted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Charles Chaplin, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo, George Bernard Shaw, Helen Keller, H.G. Wells, Lord Louis Mountbatten, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Crawford, Noël Coward, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl S. Buck, Charles Lindbergh, Max Reinhardt, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, Gloria Swanson, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Jack Dempsey, The King and Queen of Siam and the Crown Prince of Japan. Will Rogers even said in 1928, "My most important duty as mayor of Beverly Hills is directing people to Mary Pickford’s house." 

The glamour wouldn't last as the couple's marriage unraveled. Fairbanks and Pickford divorced in January 1936. Accounts we read claimed that Fairbanks continued to live in the house until his death in 1939 and that the couple just lived in separate wings. Fairbanks would remain the love of Pickford's life, but she found companionship again with actor and musician Charles "Buddy" Rogers whom she married in 1937. It seems hard to believe that he would be okay with the ex-husband living in the same house. Buddy and Mary remained married until Pickford's death in 1979 and they resided at Pickfair until her death as well. During that time they held parties and fundraisers for charitable organizations, including an annual Christmas party for blind war veterans. The public got a rare peek inside the mansion during the 48th Academy Awards in 1976 when Pickford was given a second Academy Award for her contribution to American film, which was presented to her in the formal living room of Pickfair. There are accounts that claim Pickford became a recluse towards the end of her life and that she had become an alcoholic like her father. After Pickford passed, Buddy Rogers moved out of PickFair. He had such a fondness for the place though that he built a new home that was a smaller scale version of PickFair.

The property sat empty for several years until businessman and owner of the LA Lakers Jerry Buss bought it in 1980. Buss' daughter recalled when she and her father toured the house, Pickford's Oscar was still sitting there. Singer Pia Zadora bought it in 1988 and in 1990 decided to demolish the historic home. There was huge public backlash and Zadora claimed that there was just too much termite damage to restore the home. Later, however, Zadora claimed that the house had been beautiful and perfect when she moved in, but then weird things started happening. Her family experienced terrifying paranormal experiences, so she and her husband agreed that they should tear down the house and rebuild. UNICOM Global, an IT company bought the rebuilt Pickfair Estate in 2005. This new house is a Venetian styled mansion with an indoor spa, theater, gym, lavish master suite and several bedrooms. The company uses it as an executive meeting center. Parts of the original Pickfair still are part of the newer construction. The original gates are there along with the servants' quarters and the living room, which are part of the north wing. The guesthouse and the pool are still there.

Mary Pickford described many unexplained experiences in the house. These started as loud noises coming from the attic. Pickford claimed it sounded like somebody tramping around very heavily above her bed. She was a heavy sleeper, but these noises never failed to awaken her. Mary even told a newspaper columnist about a conversation she had with the spirit in her house. She said, "I sat up in bed and addressed myself to the ghost, 'I wouldn't treat you this way. It isn't ladylike. I don't expect to be treated in this manner.' The noises ceased." The cook for the couple also claimed to have experiences. Pickford said, "One day our cook, a practical, unemotional Swedish woman, ran out of the kitchen in terror, brandishing a knife, she declared she was being pursued by a strange, dark woman whom she had seen in the kitchen." 

A friend and house guest of Pickford's seemed to have seen this same ghost. The guest said, "I just saw a strange, tall dark woman in the hallway up there. She was looking at the alcove. Her eyes wandered about in a puzzled way as she looked from side to side, as if to say-something has changed here. At first, I thought she was Theresa, your maid; then I saw she was a stranger. I went to speak to her. She vanished." Now while Pickford believed the home was haunted, Douglas Fairbanks didn't and he figured there was some kind of explanation behind the stories. He maintained that he didn't believe in ghosts at all. Although he too heard the mysterious noises coming from the floor above them.

So Pia Zadora bought Pickfair and fairly quickly she realized that the house had ghosts. She appeared on Celebrity Ghost Stories in 2012 and explained that she had put her kids to bed and then went to sleep and had just drifted off when she heard a blood-curdling scream. She recognized it as her daughter and then her daughter came running into the room. She told Pia that she had seen what she thought was a ghost. She described a tall whitish woman above her bed when she woke up. The woman was wearing a white gown and looking at her and laughing. Pia didn't know what to do. She hadn't noticed anything about the house, so she thought her daughter was just having nightmares. Pia took her daughter to a therapist who said that her daughter seemed fine, but may be having a little bit of trouble with adjusting to moving to a new house. Pia said, "Years ago my husband and I tore down one of the most iconic Hollywood mansions because of termites … but that wasn’t the real reason. When we moved into the house it was beautiful, everything was perfect, it was a dream … but weird things started to happen … so my husband and I, after trying to figure out what to do, decided we were going to have the house razed." She continued, "If I had a choice, I never would have torn down this old home. I loved this home, it had a history, it had a very important sense about it and you can deal with termites, and you can deal with plumbing issues, but you can’t deal with the supernatural."
A fun story about Fairbanks and the house: One day he was driving home when he spotted an aristocratic Englishman with a familiar face walking along the road. He stopped to give the man a ride and the man accepted. Fairbanks was sure he recognized the man, but he couldn't place the name, so he invited him to Pickfair for a drink. The stranger accepted that as well. The two men drank while Fairbanks peppered him with questions trying to figure out why he knew him. This Englishman even seemed to know Pickfair intimately. Fairbanks wondered if he had been to a party there or something. Fairbank's secretary joined the two men in the room and Fairbanks whispered to him, "Who’s this Englishman? I know he’s Lord Somebody, but I just can’t remember his name?" The secretary replied, "That is the English butler you fired last month for getting drunk."

Pickfair is not like it had been during its Hollywood glory days. That old piece of history is gone. Nobody at UNICOM Global has claimed to have a haunting experience, but that doesn't mean that spirits don't still remain. Is Pickfair haunted? That is for you to decide!