Racine Heritage Museum
Stories of apparitions plague the almost 200 year old building. A ghost of a little girl has been reported as well as humanoid shaped figures hovering about.
RACINE — For three decades in the latter 1800s, housekeeper Mary Williams faithfully served the Durand family until she died in their house at age 57.
Some people believe she never left the mansion she had lived in since age 26. They believe Williams’ spirit is just one of the ghosts that inhabit 1012 Main St., now the Masonic Center.
Wendy Spencer, the center’s event coordinator, is a believer. She says numerous people have seen and experienced ghostly phenomena there.
In April, a team of paranormal investigators came to the Masonic Center to look for ghosts and came away convinced they found some.
What follows are some of the eerie occurrences that led to that investigation.
Spencer’s research at the Racine Heritage Museum shows that Henry and Caroline Durand built the mansion in 1857. They had three girls, and later a fourth came along.
Williams, from Wales, had her room adjoining the Durand girls’ room and must have been their close companion. The servant stayed with the Durand family until she died in the house of consumption, 31 years after her arrival.
Meanwhile, one Durand daughter died at age 5. “We believe it was Caroline,” said Spencer.
She and her daughter Amy Messer say they think little Caroline’s spirit is still likely frolicking at the mansion which the Masons bought in 1921 and turned into their center.
Spencer tells of the time that a 12- to 14-year-old member of the Masonic boys youth group came to her, somewhat shaken.
“He said, ‘… please don’t think I’m crazy, but I just saw a little girl upstairs, and she’s not alive.’ ” The boy said she had just run down a staircase.
Spencer told the boy it was all right; that was just little Caroline, and she would do him no harm.
Spencer and Messer say that Messer’s daughter, Summer, has reacted to what she evidently thought were people in the Masonic Center that no one else could see.
One time, Spencer said, she was with Summer, now 4, on the third floor, where a Christmas tree was set up in the Durand daughters’ room. Summer said “hi” several times as though she was talking to someone behind the Christmas tree.
Then, Summer became frightened and asked to be picked up.
Spencer said she reacted by asking whoever was present to stop scaring her granddaughter — and Summer immediately started to laugh and giggle.
That unnerved even Spencer, who calmly talks about having ghosts at the center. They quickly left the room.
Messer and Joy McClelland, who has grown up with the Masons, both say they’ve seen and felt otherworldly things at the center.
McClelland, for example, said she was once in the kitchen making lunch. “I looked up, and over by the door was a white, floating figure.” It was human-like and lasted only seconds, she said.
Spencer said her predecessor once saw a smartly attired man descend a staircase after the guests had left an event. When she turned to talk to him, he was gone.
No one who has reported seeing ghosts there has felt any menace from them, Spencer says. “People don’t feel necessarily afraid — just a little uneasy.”
About the possible ghosts, she said, “What we feel is they’re happy. Little Caroline died, and Mary didn’t want to leave because Caroline is here.”
Spencer added, “This is such a comfortable place for people to be … Maybe they just like it here.”
Full source: Journal Times