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From the Publisher's Desk – Stately home holds horror of past (Nov. 4, 2015 issue)

Intentions were to arrive early, certainly before dark. However, time had gotten away from us and we were going to have to step into the abandoned house after dark, with no clue of its floor plan.
She was stately in stature and a true showpiece in her time, but progress had crowded in on the old home and her land was now more valuable than her frame. Sure, at one time, the walls were full of laughter, fashionable parties, delightful aromas wafting from the kitchen and a beautiful young woman descending the large, ornate staircase for her lucky boyfriend, who eagerly awaited.
The grandeur of the old home was tarnished and her better years were gone. The date was now 1981 and she sat empty, with fate unknown.
The house was on the edge of the East Tennessee State University campus and was part of the original plot given by George Carter, who also played a big part in the area’s railroad. After its donation, the house had gone through many transitions over the years, as the campus tried to find usefulness for it.
I was a student at ETSU and a writer for the school newspaper. One of my friends on staff had interviewed a psychic, who told her the house was haunted. The psychic had taken some students through, along with a campus policeman for security. The psychic’s skills were well respected and the police had used her often. She walked from floor to floor and room to room with a recorder. “Let’s go down in the basement she said.”
After reaching the basement floor, she turned to a particular corner and said, “This is where she died.” The psychic was referring to a young lady who had killed herself by ingesting poison because her boyfriend left her. “Let’s get out of here,” the psychic said. “I can tell I’m not wanted here.”
When they played the recording back, the scream of a young lady was heard clearly when the psychic decided to go downstairs. The policeman, who had gone along, said he would never go back in the building again.
Years later, the campus radio station occupied a space in the home. Upon further investigation, we found many stories of unexplained happenings from the crew. One such event happened when a DJ left the room briefly with one track playing and shortly came back to find another one playing.
I had made some connections with administration and had approached some others on the staff with the idea of a unique Halloween story. We would spend the night in the house and test it for ourselves. I was given a key and told that there was no electricity on and that we would have to bring flashlights. I was also warned to be careful.
As I mentioned earlier, it was now dark. I used the key to unlock the large entry doors, as I took a deep breath. With my heart racing, I turned the door knob and stepped inside. Some of the crew with me were holding flashlights for us. They were shining in all directions to make sure we were as safe from every direction as we could be.
Huddled together, we explored the first floor. My mind tried to overlook the show of age and imagine the splendor the old house had in its time. The floors squeaked and a chill seemed to fill the air.
We ascended the grand staircase, stopping on the center landing. A large stained glass window was the focal point. The street lights outside lit up the eerie scene of a beautiful young woman ready to jump from a cliff into the crashing waves of the ocean below. This supposedly had been placed in memory of the young girl after she died in the basement.
Later, at midnight, we gathered on the landing. We had been told by the radio station employees that they would often hear footsteps there near the midnight hour.
We continued on to the second floor and then to the attic. Room by room we cautiously entered, not wanting to be the leader and not wanting to bring up the rear. We gasped at times, jumped at times and always clung to each other for support.
In a house with no electricity, we found one room had a working light switch and a kitchen stove eye lit up after we had passed by. This was certainly not a place any of us wanted to be alone.
It was now time to descend into the basement. We slowly eased down the staircase, not knowing what awaited. Almost instantly, pipes above our heads started clanging. There would be a noise from one corner and then another. Rattles and hisses seemed to dance around the room. With only flashlights, we explored each space of the large home’s basement.
At one point, we felt we had found the very spot the young lady had died. There was just a sense of coldness there. Quickly we turned and headed back up to the main floor to find a glimmer of peace.
It was nearing daybreak and slowly the intensity of fear was starting to ease up. We had made it through the night. There were no visible sightings but there were plenty of unexplained occurrences.
The old house was torn down years later to make way for new dorms. Although the stately home no longer stands, the experience of that night will haunt a space of my mind, forever.