In a previous post, 5 Lesser-known Haunts In Chicago, we took a look at a handful of haunted places that don’t get the attention they deserve. These of course aren’t the only ones. Here are 5 more lesser-known haunts that make Chicago not only a city of the living, but a city of the dead.
Brewster Building, 2800 N. Pine Grove Avenue
Standing at the corner of Diversey and Pine Grove Avenue in the trendy Lake View neighborhood, is the imposing Brewster Apartment Building. When it was constructed in 1893 by renowned architect Enock Hill Turnock, it was originally called the Lincoln Park Palace. This grand building was built in a skeleton frame design that served as inspiration for the skyscrapers that would one day dominate the skyline of Chicago. Shorly before the finishing touches were put on the building, a tragic death occurred that led to the building being haunted.
In 1895, Bjoerne Edwards, builder and publisher of American Contractor Magazine, was the first person to die in the building. While directing his workers on the roof, Edwards stepped on a faulty scaffold and plunged eight floors to his death in the lobby below. The prominent builder was rushed to Alexian Brothers Hospital but died two hours later from his injuries.
Edwards’ death over a century ago has left a psychic scar on the building that is still experienced to this day. Residents and visitors to the 7th floor have reported an overwhelming sense of dread. While others having reported the bizarre feeling of falling accompanied by an imminent sense of death. Some have claimed to hear screaming followed by a loud crash. An apparition has never been seen, but these feelings and sounds are enough to scare anyone.
Saint Turibius Catholic Church, South Karlov Avenue
St. Turibius Catholic Church at the corner of 57th Street and Karlov Avenue, was founded in 1927 by Cardinal Mundelein to serve the growing number of Catholic families moving to its southwest side neighborhood. The church offers services to its diverse English, Spanish and Polish speaking parishioners. This beautiful Catholic church is allegedly haunted by one of its former priests.
The church is believed to be haunted by Father Joe Lechert, a former pastor. In life, Father Lechert deeply cared for his church and the community he called home. When the church went through a reorganization, Father Lechert was relieved of his duties. As a result, Lechert reportedly died of a broken heart and if the stories are true, he never went on to his final reward.
Since his death in 1968, both churchgoers and altar boys have reported witnessing the ghostly figure of an elderly priest throughout the church. Those who have seen him say he appears to be going about his priestly duties and saying mass. When the ghost of this faithful man of God manifests, people have claimed to get a whiff of the cigarettes he smoked while going about his business in the church.
Polish Museum of America, 984 North Milwaukee Avenue
Located on the northwest side of Chicago is West Town, a Chicago neighborhood that has historically been home to the city’s large Polish community. This neighborhood that is home to the Polish Museum of America, our next stop on this tour of lesser-known Chicago haunts.
In 1931, a devastating fire tore through the Polish National Museum at Alliance College, wiping out the Polish library. Numerous priceless artifacts, works of art and books detailing the history of Poland was lost forever. Enraged by the destruction of the museum, several prominent Polish-Americans established the Polish Museum of America in 1935. The museum serves as an archive for Polish-Americans across the United States.
One of the most frequented rooms in the museum is also its most haunted, the Ignace Padrewski room. Ignace Padrewski was a pianist and composer who also served as the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Poland. Padrewski, was also one of the signers of the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty that ended World War I.
A few years after the Museum opened, Padrewski’s sister donated a large sum of money to keep her brother’s memory alive and it would seem with his memory and the money, Padrewski’s ghost followed.
Visitors to the Padrewski room and museum staff have reported activity they consider to be the work of the long dead Renaissance man. On his birthday, November 6, museum staff place flowers on the fireplace mantle in his memory. Long after the flowers have withered and died, the scent of the flowers remain. The maestro’s piano composition in G has been heard coming from the room. Members of the cleaning crew have reported sensing the eerie presence of someone they can’t see. By all accounts, Padrewski’s ghost is known to be mischievous but always benevolent.
Macy’s 8th Floor, North State Street
In 2006, Marshall Field’s department store on State Street was acquired by Macy’s, a move many Chicagoans were not pleased with. Field’s is a Chicago institution and has been a part of the culture and history of this town for well over a century and it’s allegedly home to the ghosts of one of Chicago’s greatest tragedies.
In 1906, the Iroquois Theater, known today as the James M. Nederlander Theatre, was destroyed in a devastating fire. On that day, over 600 people died because of the fire, making it one of the deadliest events in Chicago history. Dozens of injured victims were rushed to the 8th floor of Marshall Field’s, where a makeshift hospital was set up to treat the horrifically burned victims of the fire. Marshall Field’s staff was more than accommodating and donated towels to clean victim’s burns and linen to wrap the dead. Many of the people who died that day on the 8th floor still haunt the high end department store.
When the store is closed and the last customers have gone home, employees of the store have reported intense paranormal activity. Feelings of dread and a fear of death is reportedly felt on the floor. Others have reported hearing unexplained voices pleading for help. Nevertheless, it’s the apparitions of people in burned clothing with blackened flesh seen wondering the floor that has caused employees to either refuse working on the floor or to quit out of fear.
Chicago Fire Department District 1 HQ, 55 West Illinois
Between 1872 and 1927, the building that CFD District 1 HQ (Engine 42) occupies was a prison that housed some of the most violent and bloodthirsty criminals that roamed the streets of Chicago. The Prison’s most infamous inmate was Patrick Prendergast, the ruthless killer who assassinated Chicago mayor, Carter Harrison, Sr. in 1893. With all these hardened criminals and murderous prisoners comprising its population, over 100 prisoners met their fate on the gallows. One gruesome story concerns a prisoner who had to be hanged twice when the rope of his first hanging snapped. Some of these ghosts of hardened criminals are said to keep the brave men and women of District 1 up at night.
Due to the reports of ghostly phenomena in the building, many firefighters have expressed a reluctance to spend the night in the building. And who could blame them? These are the ghosts of hardened killers after all. When the building is quiet, disembodied voices and phantom footsteps have been heard throughout the building. A handful of firefighters have reported witnessing shadowy, ominous figures, lurking about the halls of the firehouse. The doors to the Bay have been seen opening and closing on their own when no one is around. The men and women of CFD District 1 HQ may not like to spend the night in the building, but they really don’t have much of a choice.
There’s five more lesser-known haunts in Chicago. More to come later.
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