Ghost hunting at a Victorian antique shop apartment



Orb at the floor

Orb at the floor

I will recount a genuine ghost hunt.  For ghost enthusiasts the chance to investigate a true haunting is very rare.  It really is a privilege.  Most famous, publicly known hauntings have ceased being haunted long ago.  Nearly every haunting is a private affair and rarely attracts any attention outside of the individuals involved.  I got a chance at a combination of both.  I think these are important stories and need to be recorded.

It was March of 2002.  Jamie was a ghost enthusiast, and he invited me on what we loosely call an investigation.  I use the term “enthusiast” instead of “ghost hunter” because ghost hunting suggests a professional enterprise, and there is no such thing.  I believe there are no experts concerning the topic of ghosts.  We can only hope to be at the right place at the right time. 

In Jamie’s words, “Well the tentative ghost hunt I mentioned is on. We have a location. It’s at a private location with the owner’s permission near the former site of Victorian house antique shop. Victorian house is a well known haunted spot with lots of activity. I am going to contact the owners of the Victorian house and see if I can get permission to get in there too. The house now is standing vacant. If anyone is interested in going. I require an rsvp on this one and a debriefing as it is at a private site.  Jamie”

This supposedly haunted location was a Victorian style building near downtown Chicago, an antique shop that has long since been closed.  It had a reputation for being haunted.  The facts are hearsay.  It was built around 1880.  The story was four people died in an attic fire.  Another story concerned a woman murdered at this shop in the late 1800s.  Customers have reported hearing strange sounds and witnessed apparitions in this shop.

I met Jamie and Jason (another ghost enthusiast) and two ladies who I did not know outside the closed Victorian Antique shop.  We were not entering the actual store.  It was closed and the owners had no interest in entertaining visitors.  But the apartments opposite to this shop were a different story, and Jamie got an invitation to investigate from one of these renters.

We were invited in.  The residents of the apartment were interested in discovering what was happening.  They were experiencing a haunting phenomenon.  At first they looked at us with some skepticism.  But Jamie had a friendly, unpretentious southern demeanor that was disarming.  Right away we wanted to know their stories.  Why did they invite us here?  What was going on?

A young man and woman lived in this apartment.  Outside of their stories of odd sounds, footsteps and doors that closed by its self, I vividly recall the young lady’s story.  Late one night the lady of the apartment got up from her bed and went into the kitchen, and she was absolutely startled to see a man sitting at her kitchen table.  She was stunned.  He was smoking a cigarette, and he seemed very depressed, with his head was laid low.  He looked up at her sadly…and vanished.  She was unnerved by this experience, seeing a stranger in her apartment.  Except she had experienced other unseen people existing in this apartment.  She called him the “sad one”.  There were others.  She said that this spirit was not associated with the others…not popular.  The other spirits hanged together. 

Intrigued, we took out our cameras.  Jason had an EMP device.  Myself I preferred a film camera figuring a film’s negative offered physical evidence.  Jamie had his digital camera and right way he caught orbs.   Orbs are frowned on, and properly so.  Most orbs are nothing, yet they are not easy to get…random chance. But when we are in a haunting situation and orbs are photographed left and right, it is time for a serious heads up.  Jamie showed the tenants the orbs on his digital.  The guy started off skeptical, but when he was saw these orbs on Jamie’s camera he became immediately interested in what we were doing. Maybe his girlfriend’s experiences were not only in her imagination?

Above is a photo I took of their entrance door.  There are obvious orbs by the door.  However, what I think is remarkable about this film photo is the tiny orb by the floor.  There is a small glob of light and below it is a ring of light, as if the orb actually reflected the camera’s flash on the shiny floor.  I include a picture of their cat for perspective on the reflective nature of the floor, and what I imagine was captured.  Could a flash capture the actual physical reflection of an orb?

We wandered around their apartment, with their permission, taking pictures and listening to more stories. I was attentive to the details of our “investigation”. I did not know the two ladies who joined us.  They were of the pagan faith and suggested they could talk to the dead.  Mediums.  I thought to myself…uh-huh.  Yeah right, ok whatever. On the other hand I had an open mind. 

Jason and myself both experienced cold spots.  There was no breeze whatsoever.  I looked at him and he looked at he and me said,”did you feel that?”  It was truly a physical coldness…as if something cold passed through you. Contact.  We were in the real thing…this lady’s story was not only her imagination. 

haunted-tarot-card-layoutI did my usual tarot card layout as a means to attract the attention of any spirits.  In this place it was not necessary.  The layout is still interesting. What do the cards say about this haunting?  The final card is…Death.

While the mediums were talking to the spirits us guys were doing our “scientific” guy-thing, taking pictures and measurements with EMF meters (electromagnetic radiation detectors) and recordings for EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena).  Science?  Not really.

Everybody gathered in the living room as the mediums began to talk with the lost haunted souls.  I listened carefully.  Were they the real deal or only pretenders?  The ladies said there was a terrible tragedy in the past.  And there were a number of spirits here; it was not a solitary haunting.  They also thought that not all the tragedies happened in the antique shop.  They just congregated here, and there was an anchor spirit that drew them here.

They said there were maybe five spirits present.  Three women and two men.  One of the spirits did not associate with the others.  He was in the grip of a deep personal darkness and could not move on.  Another was a young woman who was deeply in love and died.  They spoke of  one of the girl ghosts.  This ghost thought Jason was cute. They said this ghost was sitting on Jason’s lap at this very minute!  As Jason was sitting in a chair both Jamie and I caught these photos.

Orb sitting on Jason's lap

Orb sitting on Jason's lap

Jamie took a photo of an orb buy Jason’s left leg.  Jamie’s photo is remarkable. This orb seems to have physicality, like a blob.  My picture taken a few minutes afterwards shows another orb hovering by Jason.  Notice that the wall’s shadow is cast on the orb.  What the @%#@!  An orb photo becomes more then an orb photo depending on the context. 

The two ladies said we needed to free these lost souls.  They began using smudge sticks.  They lit the smudge sticks and let the smoke flow…and spoke to the lost souls…go home…go home and  “Be free.”   They talked directly to these souls asking them to let go of any hurt or tragedy. Whatever tragedies held them, don’t let any other spirit hold you back.  They went room to room with their smudging. 

We left, and I considered our ghost investigation as one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had.  It really sparked my interest in the paranormal to a new level. 

Here is what Jason wrote us afterwards:

“Hi. This is Jason. From the Victorian house. Just wanted to thank all of you for coming out to this place and sharing the knowledge and helping. That picture from the living room is amazing!!!  There can be no other explanation for those orbs! And they are exactly where she said they would be. Thanks ladies too, for sending them home.”

We have many other intriguing photos from this visit, but since they include people in them and we need to protect people’s privacy, I can’t post them. 

Here is Jamie’s ghost website, Jamie’s Chicago Gangsterland Ghost Page at and he has a Yahoo Group for local Chicago ghost fans, ChicagolandGhostClub

An Orb and myself in the corner

An Orb and myself in the corner

17 Responses to “Ghost hunting at a Victorian antique shop apartment”

  1. Ilse Says:

    Hi, I just found your blog and have to say I’m really enjoying the fact that you’re keeping it ‘real’.

    “We can only hope to be at the right place at the right time.”

    I absolutely share your opinion on this, I’ve yet to meet a ghost who was in any way interested in ‘posing’.

    You didn’t mention if Jason felt anything at all with the ghost sitting on his lap – I know some folks can’t. It makes you wonder if the ghosts can vary how much they project and just find it fun to do things like this while folks are unsuspecting. Sometimes I think we make great entertainment for them, as in this case the ghost clearly was playing.

  2. David Says:

    Hi Ilse,
    Jason did not notice anything as he was sitting there. But it sure convinced me these ladies knew what they were talking about after I saw these photos. Jason and I felt fleeting cold spots in this apartment. It was a first for me. I think the ghosts were being playful. They must have recognized our group, strangers, trying to engage them. I don’t know if the ladies smudging ceremony set the spirits free or not. We never heard anything back from the occupants of this apartment afterwards.

  3. Stephanie Says:

    My sister actually wrote a book on ghosts in SE Kansas. (If you’re interested, look for it at by Cheryl Carvajal). She lives in Washington State now and she’s working on one there.

    Interesting coincidence, no?

  4. David Says:

    That is so cool, your sister is a published author about ghosts! How did she get interested in that topic? What motivated her?

  5. Stephanie Says:

    I’m not entirely sure. I never asked her. When she lived in Independence, Kansas, there was a really cool old cemetery across the street from her house.

    That might have triggered it. Or she might have always been interested. I have no idea.

  6. David Says:

    Stephanie, ghosts are usually not a common interest for most people. Most people don’t give the idea much thought. I think ghosts are an important topic. If ghosts are real (as I believe) then it says something fundamental about the true nature of reality. If life after death is true, and if these spirits can actually interact with the physical world in some limited way…the implications are huge.

    For myself, I recall the first time I was shown photos with orbs in them. Ghosts? Oh really? I looked at them and thought to myself, “Yup, very nice optical effects, spots in a flash’s glare…yup, very impressive…not!” Which is true most of the time. But not necessarily always.

  7. Stephanie Says:

    In my family, communing with the dead is very common and accepted. My great-grandfather was a shaman.

  8. Dan the Ghost Hunter Says:

    Love it guys, I thought you had a spirit cat from the first few photos, lol. While I normally can dismiss orbs, these are some pretty good examples.. Keep it up

  9. David Says:

    Hi Dan,
    I generally dismiss orbs too, except when an orb acts in a way that seems sentient. There has to be more going on then just a spot in a picture. But those are pretty rare.

  10. Mary Says:

    I read the pictured tarot spread that was initially laid out. It is interesting and very sad(I have the very same pack!). I don’t know if you got the same impressions but here goes. What I read here is about a very smart & introspective woman in love but very upset, she is pregnant. There appears to be a lot of conflict over an opportunity to go to school or a school and her relationship with her beloved.It looks as though the poor girl was damned if she did amd damned if she didn’t in the eyes of her peers.But the mothers (his and hers) keep the pressure on. There are family honor issues on both sides.It also looks like his mother was quite critical of her and her choices..not good enough for her little boy. He realizes that he could/would loose everything. I get the feeling that her mom pressures her because she is not keen on this union but she has to get married.If I am getting this right her mom had talked about sending her away adding to her dispare. From this initial spread I couldn’t tell if her death was homicide or suicide so I did a spread and asked if she was murdered: It looks like this woman died from a botched abortion arranged by the young man and his mother…where the heck were these kids’ fathers?? How long ago did she die? I wonder how many other women that horse doctor had butchered?

  11. David Says:

    Hi Mary,
    You are good at reading the cards! It does feel sad. As for my pack, that was my very first set of tarot cards (bought as a teenager). I have others, but that is the only deck I seem to have any success with.

  12. Mary Says:

    Greetings David,
    You are very kind…some days I do better than others. This particular pack was always my favorite but they are very old and brittle. Depending on the ‘project’ determines what pack or packs I will use. I have been chipping away at the reading you did in the cemetary ..Bacholars Grove I think it was called (I don’t have my notes in front of me). You definately had more than one ‘person’ coming through it. Two stand out the most, one is a black woman who left kids behind, the other looks like a white teenager possibly gay. But things are still blurred between them. One of them died in some sort of accident. On what may have followed you…I’m working on that too. When you asked if anyone in that graveyard wanted to speak, I don’t think you anticipated being in the midst of a big crowd. It looks like everybody had something to say and said it all at once!

  13. David Says:

    Hi Mary,
    I learned something from my experience at Bachelor’s Grove cemetery. Don’t accidentally channel something by reading tarot cards in a haunted cemetery. I think tarot cards are a powerful tool for attracting spiritual attention, for good or bad. I brought something back with me, but a bad thing. I also had a tarot card reading at Chicago’s Red Lion Inn, a haunted pub that no longer exists. I had a better feeling from that visit. A reading at a haunted area attracts the curiosity of any resident spirits, just as it would with us living people.

  14. Mary Says:

    Hi David
    You are making me smile. You are absolutely correct. The cards, or any method of divination, or your own physical, emotional or mental state for that matter is ‘bait’. But thats why we do it..we are hunting and sometimes the hunter does become the hunted. Just keep your Medicine good…and never bring a squirt gun on a bear hunt:)

  15. David Says:

    Hi J,
    Thanks for writing! The memory is a bit fuzzy for me too. It was a long time ago, but I feel this was a real haunting. I have a lot of photos from the apartment but nothing remarkable was in them. I posted my bet photos. I’ll write you back, but I don’t recall very much either. What I wrote was about all of it.

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