For our third, and final, tour of lesser-known Chicago haunts, we’ll look at five spiritually active places that fall under the radar.
House Of Blues, 329 North Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois has long been a major hub of entertainment in the American Midwest. Visitors and residents can choose from a wide variety of clubs, bars, and venues where they can have a drink and watch their favorite bands play to a packed house. In 1996, concert goers welcomed a new addition to its roster of music venues, The House Of Blues and it was opened by none other than Dan Aykroyd.
Dan Aykroyd, best known for his role in Ghostbusters, has been an enthusiastic lifelong student of parapsychology and ufology. Perhaps his interest in the strange and unusual is reason why he opened his club in the heart of Chicago. The House of Blues is reportedly haunted by a very active ghost.
Since opening its doors to patrons, staff and customer alike have reported encountering the ghost of a little girl. No one can say with any certainty who she was in life but judging by her attire, it’s believed she was a child who died in the early 20th century.
When the building is quiet, and no bands are stage, that’s when she’s most active. HoB staff have watched as her semi-transparent form skips gleefully across the stage while singing. One staff member brought her son to work, and the ghostly girl appeared to him wanting to play. The little boy was so frightened, his mother could barely get him to calm down. The boy’s fear may have been real, but the little girl who haunts the House of Blues is anything but threatening.
Chicago Water Tower, Michigan Avenue
Over its 200-year history, Chicago has seen a great many tragic events that shaped the city into what it is today. And one of those tragic events occurred in 1871, when a fire swept through the city destroying everything in its path. Most of the structures at that time were made of wood and added to the blazing inferno that engulfed the city.
Standing proudly on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, is the city’s most recognizable landmark, the Water Tower. This building was spared from the fire and may just be haunted by a man who sought refuge in the sandstone structure.
According to city lore, as the fire made its way up Michigan Avenue, one brave city worker remained in the water tower to keep the pumps running. As the building filled with smoke, he swiftly made his way to the top. When he realized all hope was lost, the despondent city worker hung himself on the top floor.
Today, the world-famous landmark is home to the City Gallery at Historic Water Tower. The Water Tower is open daily, and you can view some of the best works by Chicago artists. The Water Tower also appears to have retained the ghost of the brave city worker. Visitors have claimed to see the form of a man looking out the top floor window with a look of fear etched into his face. Others have claimed to see a figure hanging from a noose on the top floor. When anyone goes to investigate, all they find is an eerie silence.
St Benedict’s Catholic Church, 2215 West Irving Park Road
To say that St Benedict’s Catholic Church on Irving Park Road is beautiful would be the understatement of the century. Since 1918, St Ben’s has faithfully served a parish comprised of mostly German Americans. It’s gothic architecture along with its stained-glass windows imported from Germany reflect its parish. It’s these colorful works of art that may have resulted in this lovely church being a lesser-known haunt of the Windy City.
When the church was undergoing construction, a worker was installing a window when a horrible accident occurred. The worker lost his footing on a scaffold and plunged to his death behind the altar. His fellow workers did everything they could to help him, but it was too late, he died due to his injuries.
Shortly after opening, parishioners and priests, reported a curious and unsettling sight. The figure of a man was seen standing behind the altar as mass was being given. People have further reported seeing him in the front pews sobbing. One janitor, who was cleaning the church reported as he cleaned, someone was slamming down the kneelers. Some parishioners believe that the ghost of this construction worker is still in the church to this day.
Chicago Firehouse 107, 1101 South California
Not all hauntings can be attributed to shadowy phantoms and frightening apparitions forever walking the places where they died. Some of the most reported ghostly phenomena are smells, sense of presence, or in the case of Chicago Firehouse 107, a handprint that just would not go away.
The story of the phantom handprint at Firehouse 107 dates all the way back to the 1920s. On April 18, 1924, Frank Leavey and his fellow smoke eaters were cleaning the windows of the bay. Suddenly, Frank stopped and turned to one of his fellow firefighters and said he had an eerie feeling that he was going to die that day. Frank and his friend laughed it off and went back to work.
A few moments later, the alarm went off and the firefighters rushed to an office building engulfed in flames. While extinguishing the blaze, eight firefighters lost their lives, including Frank Leavey. He may have thought his premonition was silly, but the universe had other plans.
The following day, as they mourned their dead comrades, the firefighters of 107 noticed something odd. A handprint had formed on a pane of glass where Leavey was working before he died. They did their best to wash off the handprint but despite their best efforts it would just return. The firefighters, believed the eerie handprint belonged to Frank Leavey, so instead of cleaning it off, they left it as a memorial to their friend and fellow first responder.
Frank Leavey’s handprint remained on the plane of glass until April 18, 1944. A paperboy accidently threw a rolled-up newspaper at the window causing it to shatter. The firehouse was devastated by the unfortunate accident. They replaced the pane, but sadly, the handprint never returned.
Mundelein Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, Loyola University
When the Mundelein Center for the Fine and Performing Arts was built 90 years ago, it was founded as an all girl’s college. The building often referred to as the skyscraper building became a part of Loyola University sixty years later. The building houses an auditorium, an atrium, classrooms and a ghostly legend of two lovers locked in a forbidden affair.
According to an unverified story, in the early days of the girl’s college, a priest and a nun fell madly in love and despite strict rules against such a union, carried on an affair. They knew the consequences if they were caught, but they didn’t care. They were in love.
A few months into their secret love, the nun discovered to her dismay she was with child. When she approached her lover and asked him to run away with her, he rejected her. Distraught over the turn of events, the nun fled to the thirteenth floor and hung herself. Having second thoughts, the priest ran after his lover. When he made it to the thirteenth floor, he found the nun swinging from a noose. The priest was so overcome with grief, he jumped out the window plunging to his death on the steps of the building.
When asked about the story, Loyola University has denied any truth to this tale of love and death. Nevertheless, students and faculty have reported catching glimpses of the ghostly couple. They have been seen walking the halls of the skyscraper building together with smiles upon their faces. Others have reported seeing a strange light in the windows of the 13th floor. Loyola University can deny this story, but the phantom sightings persist to this day.
Chicago, Illinois, the Windy City, the city of big shoulders is a city for both the living and the dead. I encourage you to research and explore this great American city, because you may just uncover a lesser-known haunting.
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