With Halloween just passed, it is now time to share some ghost stories from around Webster Groves.
Some of them may even be right in your backyard – at least that’s the case for senior Maggie Kate Light.
Light claimed that her house is haunted. According to Light, the most haunted places in her house are her attic and the old barn beside her house that has been converted into a garage/storage space. Light’s house, barn and two of her neighbor’s houses are still the original structures built in 1885 by Alexander Penny, although one of the neighbor’s homes has been completely redone.
“As you can see, it’s very dilapidated, but we’re actually not allowed to do anything to it because it’s a historical landmark,” Light explained about the old barn.
Light climbed the stairs to the loft of the old barn. This, she said, is the most haunted part, specifically a room off to one side of the loft. Light described her and her brothers being terrified of the garage growing up, but one day, her oldest brother convinced all of them that they needed to sign their names on a chimney in the creepy loft room that teenagers of generations past had signed.
“My middle brother, and I and his best friend, we came up here in 2009, so I was five, to sign our names. We were so scared, we literally came up and down the stairs a million times, but there, I think it’s gone, but there was an etching… our names were already on it,” Light revealed. “I got so scared that I, I was holding a glass of water, I dropped the glass of water, and it shattered, obviously, and it started like bubbling.” Light said that this was her most haunted experience in the old barn and that she has rarely gone up there since.
Stories of this old, haunted barn did not only draw the attention of Light and her siblings but also of local teenagers years ago.
“Teenagers, when I was growing up, would sneak in and write stuff on it [an interior protrusion of the chimney],” Light said. Along this, various names are signed, including one that reads “Jeremy was here 1977.”
Light then left the loft of the barn and walked to the empty attic of the house, where she found names written on the wall that she had not noticed before. The lights on the attic would not turn on, and it was lit only by our phone flashlights, and the last rays of the sun shining through the windows as the sun began to descend. Light told stories of spooky experiences in the attic, but she paused briefly while talking when she was interrupted by an odd noise. Eventually, she went back downstairs and told more stories of ghostly experiences growing up. The scariest one is from when Light was almost too young to remember.
“We moved here when I was two, and I, before we moved here, slept through the night every single night, but after we moved here, immediately starting when we moved here, I refused to sleep. And obviously, I was old enough to speak, and so, after trying everything, my mom finally asked me, like, ‘why don’t you sleep?’” Light began. “And I said, allegedly, ‘because the little boy wants to play.’ And so my mom, the next night, she came into my room, this room, and sat on the floor by herself, and had this whole like monologue to this ghost that was like ‘please let my daughter sleep; she can play with you during the day’ – ‘cause my mom totally believes in that kind of stuff. That night – slept through the night.”
However, this was not the last time Light interacted with the ghost of the little boy. When Light’s parents divorced, on the last day that her mom was moving out, Light interacted with the little boy again.
“I was standing in the main entryway and I was like ‘Goodbye, little boy, I’ll see you again soon’ because I was like seven and dramatic, and it was going to be like a week before I was back here, but I was like ‘I’ll see you again soon’ and I felt like this cold rush go through me,” Light said.
Light also spoke of supernatural events her parents witnessed, like hearing children laughing when all the children were fast asleep, and all of the lights in the hallway brightly flashing when her dad said that ghosts aren’t real.
Light, however, is not the only student at Webster Groves High School with a haunted house. Junior Max Enloe also speaks of supernatural experiences in his home along Spring Ave and a car that is kept in the garage.
“Whenever I go to school, whatever school it was, even, it started during elementary school, there would be a strange phenomenon that was usually when we got really close to the school,” Enloe said, noting that he hears a strange knocking noise on the back window of the car about twice a week. “It happened this morning actually.”
Enloe said the creepiest experience, though, happened one night when he was sitting on the couch while the rest of his family was asleep. He said the TV turned on, even though the remote was across the room.
“The channels were switching automatically, and eventually it landed on this old black and white movie,” Enloe described. He turned the TV off, but about 20 minutes later, the same thing happened again.
Another notably haunted place is the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves.
Senior Camille Hermann lives just a few blocks away from it and told a few of her favorite ghost stories from this small, white, house-like building just off of Summit Ave. The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves was on Hermann’s route home from elementary school, and she told some of the stories her dad used to tell her and her brothers as they walked by. The first story pertains to a fire escape in an alley adjacent to the theater.
“Along the alleyway is a little fire escape, and the legend has it that you can see people in the windows when there is no one in the theater,” Hermann explained. She said she has never seen them but used to pretend that she did to scare her little brother.
While Hermann isn’t so sure about ghostly faces in the window, she believes that there is more truth behind stories of props being moved unexplainably or things flying off of walls.
“One year, they had like an open house for it, and the person was discussing how she would find props upstairs in the main theater when she had like locked them away or something,” Hermann said, “just unexplainable things, not really like she’s seen like full apparitions.”
An apparition is a ghostly figure.
The final haunted place in Webster that I will discuss – although there are many more – is a house on Lee Ave, near Larson Park.
According to “Spirits of St. Louis II [The Return of the Gateway City Ghosts]” by Robbi Courtaway, this story begins with a murder in January of 1896. Bertram E. Atwater was ambushed while walking from a train station to a nearby house.
When two men jumped out of a bush and tried to rob him, Atwater pulled out a gun. The two men did as well, and by the end of the skirmish, Atwater was dead. It is implied that Atwater still haunts this house; although, most of the ghost stories of this house pertain to the ghost of a little boy described as having “kind of long, blondish hair,” being “maybe six years old,” and wearing a “big white collar and little black jacket” (Courtaway 212).
A former resident of the house tells a story of seeing the ghost while he was babysitting his siblings and says that his girlfriend spotted the face first, and at first he thought it was one of his brothers, but as he approached where the face had been, he realized that his siblings were still watching TV in another room.
This will be Emily Goben’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.