February 12, 2008

Mary Baldwin House

Once upon a time the downtown area of cities was the "hub" of activity. That is certainly true for our historic downtown area here in the heart of Dixie. I had the pleasure of working in an old restored Victorian home a couple of years ago. The home has a wonderful history. In addition, it was haunted!

The home is one of four Victorian houses built right next to each other. They were built for four sisters in 1879 by their father, a prominent doctor. He sold them to his daughters for $5.00 "paid in love and affection" in 1880. The Mary Baldwin House stayed in the family for several generations. However, as happens in a lot of homes, it eventually passed out of the family and was used for other purposes. It was restored to its current condition to serve as a Bed & Breakfast. The building is now occupied by lawyers.

James Hale, a former slave, was commissioned to build the homes for the sisters. Another home was built for a son a few blocks away from the sisters' homes. Mr. Hale was looked on as a family member. The doctor "freed" him after the Civil War but Hale loved the family and stayed on throughout his lifetime.

Hale's craftmanship has been beautifully preserved. The arched entryways are still lined with thick moldings and fireplaces. A solid wood handrail was discovered during the renovation and has been put back into place. Hale's most obvious touch is the matching doors that still adorn the front of each of the homes.

A photo of how the Mary Baldwin home looked years before its restoration

Mary Baldwin House all decorated for Christmas

View from dining room into grand living area. Look how thick the arches are. They say it took 5 workmen to hang the chandelier in the dining room!

Side view of Mary Baldwin House

View from across the street. You can see the adjacent home has not been preserved like her "sister".

My office was the middle window upstairs

Mary Baldwin House in all her spendor! Can you imagine the history that front door could tell about all who walked through her doors?

Now for the ghost story....I was coming back from lunch one day. The employees entered from a back door, going through a small sitting room and into the kitchen area which leads to the foyer and staircase. At the foot of the staircase is a niche where a large picture hangs that was commissioned to be done of the house. Standing at the foot of the stairs, looking into the niche, (like you might look into a mirror) was a woman in an old-fashioned dress tying on her bonnet! She was very clear to me...her hair was in two plaits on the sides of her head, she had on a long-skirted calico dress and was tying the ribbons on her bonnet under her chin. She was gone as quickly as I saw her. Another co-worker was walking in front of me who lived in a lower level apartment in the house. I had just started working there and knew nothing of the history of the building. I said "did you see that"? He said what and I said "that girl standing there". He said no but said he had seen her there before.

There were many instances of "sightings" other supernatural occurences. There was a portrait of a man in the house kept under the stairwell. They said the eyes on the man followed you wherever you were in the room. At one time, some previous owners of the home had used it as an art gallery/antique shop. A woman came and bought the picture but brought it back shortly thereafter. She told the owners she didn't care if they gave her money back or not but that the picture was "evil" and she was leaving it with them!

One day I got to work and found another co-worker standing outside. She was shaking and said she was not going back inside alone....she got to work about an hour ahead of everyone else and had many strange things happen while she was there by herself.....lights flickering off and on, ceiling fans turning on by themselves, and at other times, she said she'd hear voices! Now before you think we're all crazy or superstitious, let me say that we did not go around sharing these experiences with each other...it was not until I found her outside that morning scared to death that we started sharing things that happened to each of us.

There is nothing like the beauty and craftmanship of these old homes. I would imagine it's hard for some of the past inhabitants to leave as well!

Have you ever had anything "strange" happen to you like this?


Lamp Tramp said...

Hey Judy What a great story! I have never had "ghost visions" but I do have what I think are truly supernatural premonitions. I had a terrible one last Friday, I saw myself in a horrible car crash where someone else ran a red light as I went through a set of stop lights. Then 45 minutes later, when I was going home, at that same spot, there was a horrible accident where someone ran a red light. I saw it!!! I told hubby about it when I came home and then the next day we learned that it was a fatal accident. That was scary. I've also had these premonitions with my kids. For a few years. I'll have a muted audio sound of them, then seconds later they call me. So, I do believe in that type of sighting or power. And I'm am not wacky at all. Hope you and hubby are well. I'm getting ready to go back to Shreveport next week. We are trying to plan a shopping trip into Dallas while I'm there for shoes. Talk with you soon...Xoxo

Kelly said...

how interesting...I love those old houses but I don't think I would ever want to live in one. No ghosts in my new house! :-0

Katy said...

That house is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!

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