Sep/Oct
2015

Our Area's Own: Haunted Houses

Written by By Debi Neville
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History Whispering

Considered one of the “most haunted” properties in Southeast Minnesota, Mrs. B’s Bed and Breakfast in Lanesboro has a litany of tales to tell. Current owners, Trish Capua and Matthew Vedder, heard about the ghosts when purchasing the property a short time ago but have their own personal encounters to relate.

“We hear and see things daily. Lights go on and off with no explanation; footsteps are heard throughout the hotel. They never bother. I just ask that they let me sleep,” says Trish with a chuckle. 

Some suspect it may be Buffalo Bill or Doc Powell from the Wild West show which was once in town. Others see a child bouncing a ball. Laughter and singing have been heard coming from…nowhere. In the main lobby and dining room, staff and guests have heard sobbing, crying and unhappy sighs.

 

 

How does this affect business? “Some people come in and ask specifically for the ‘haunted rooms,’” Matthew says. “I think of it as history whispering.”

The Victorian limestone block hotel, located at 101 Parkway Avenue in Lanesboro, was built in 1872 as a furniture store and funeral parlor. It has been many things since then but found new life as Mrs. B’s B&B in 1983.

Built on Burial Grounds

One explanation for the hauntings at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing is that it was constructed on Indian burial grounds. Another is that a child died when falling into a well on the property. Whatever the basis for the stories, be sure its 140-year history is intertwined with those of another world.

According to Scott Hansen, current Rooms Manager at the hotel, sightings and sounds are reported all over the hotel. “The Victorian dining room seems to be a favorite spot, also room 310,” he says. “People have heard a child giggling, and we think Clara Lillyblad, a previous owner, takes delight in being seen by guests and staff.”

The St. James Hotel at 406 Main Street in Red Wing opened with a Grand Ball on Thanksgiving 1875. The first-class hotel catered to businessmen when Red Wing was the wheat trading center of the world. At that time, it was a wonder of technology boasting hot and cold running water, steam heat, numerous kitchens, public baths, four toilets and a bridal suite and meeting rooms.

No Auditions Necessary

Ellen, the Woman in Black, the Villain. These characters and more have frequent roles at the Mantorville Opera House. The only problem? You never know when they will show up.

Cheryl Frarck, frequent director and actor at the Opera House, recounts her experiences: “I was at the theatre, preparing for a rehearsal, and I saw a woman dressed in dark clothes. She cleared her throat and was gone. Many times I have locked up, being careful to shut off lights. When I’m on the street, I look up and there are lights on upstairs. The police have even called us back to shut off lights and when we get there, it’s dark.”

Melisa Ferris has guided several paranormal groups through the Opera House. “They have concluded there is a female presence looking for something. Perhaps it’s a mother looking for a child who died in an epidemic in the 1880s. Some have heard boots shuffling on the stairs, a cat meowing, a light board that has its own mind now and again.”

Built in Mantorville in 1918 as Center Theatre, it has worn many hats: a speak-easy, silent movie house, roller rink, city hall and finally, as opera house beginning in the 1970s.

Many share the belief that spirits are attracted to a terrific energy field in these buildings, as well as others in the area. Perhaps an eerie presence, creepy sounds and strange sightings. What do you believe?  Enter if you dare!

Debi Neville is a freelance writer with some interesting ghost stories of her own.

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