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Recent posts:

Healy Block Residential Historic District – 3137 Second Ave So: Healy-Forbes House Healy Block Residential Historic District – Architecture Healy Block Residential Historic District – an Introduction Anders Christensen Receives Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Executive Director’s Award Anders Christensen’s Remarks on Receiving Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Award Healy Project Fundraiser at the Lowbrow, May 7th Winter Party Fundraiser December 2017 Talk: Preservation Advocacy, August 17th Open House at 1300 Mount Curve Avenue East Lake of the Isles Walking Tour May 21st New Research on the “Lost” Healy Block: Tour May 7th A Presentation on Master Builders Ingham and Parsons, Saturday, March 18th. Healy Project Winter Party Henry Ingham’s Yorkshire Healy Project Fundraiser at the Lowbrow, May 9th Healy Block Historic District Tour: April 17th Healy Project Holiday Old House Reception CANCELED–Healy Block Historic District Walking Tour–November 8 More Hauntings: Houses Built by Henry Ingham Healy House Hauntings Tour Intro to the History of the North Wedge North Wedge Architectural Walking Tour, October 3rd Healy Phoenix #2 Healy Phoenix #1 Report on the Event: A Great Dinner for a Good Cause A Child’s View of T.P. Healy’s Family Big Win for Healy Block Residents: Revised I-35W Expansion Plan T.P. Healy: Farmer, Commission Merchant & Wholesale Grocer in Nova Scotia Open April 25th: Restored 1885 House in Wedge Learn from the Past, Learn from the Present Grandstanding and Stonewalling at City Hall: Trashing the Public Trust Orth House Demolition An Open Letter to Minneapolis City Council Regarding the Orth House Demolition The Truth Will Out II: More Lies That Brought Down 2320 Colfax Avenue South The Truth Will Out: Lies that Brought Down 2320 Colfax Avenue South Judge Denies Injunction against Wrecking 2320 Colfax Avenue South Poisoning the Well: Testimony about 2320 Colfax Avenue South “City Ghosts” Visit Victorian House Historic North Wedge Walking Tour: Sunday, September 7th Combining New and Old: A New Vision for the Orth House A Place That Matters Healy Project Files Suit to Stop Demolition of the Orth House Happy Earth Day, Zero-Credibility City of Minneapolis Stop Demolition: Allow a designation study for the Orth House Perverting New Urbanism II: Greenwashing Demolition Perverting New Urbanism for Fun and Profit Size Matters: Development at Franklin-Lyndale DEN$ITY: Building Utopia in Gopher City Hypocrisy at City Hall: Planning Department Scorns Sustainable Development Déjà Vu All Over Again: Threats to Healy Houses Renewed Healy Project Special Kickoff Tour Saving Private Houses In Landmark Decision, City Council Stops Demolition of 2320 Colfax Avenue South What’s the Greenest Building? Who Lives in Lowry Hill East? Revoltin’ Developments VI: What You Can Do Revoltin’ Developments V: Sappy Citizens and Maudlin Attachments Revoltin’ Developments IV: Density and City Planning Revoltin’ Developments III: Density and Livability Revoltin’ Developments II: Healy Houses in the Wedge Revoltin’ Developments, Part I Healy Descendant Acquires the Bennett-McBride House On Memorial Day Lost Healys on the Healy Block More Lost Healys The Broom House: 3111 Second Avenue South More on Round Hill Happy Birthday, T.P. The Edmund G. Babbidge House: 3120 Third Avenue South Brightening the Corner: 3101 Second Avenue South 2936 Portland Avenue The Andrew H. Adams House: 3107 Second Avenue South Clones: 2932 Park and 1425 Dupont North The J.B. Hudson House: 3127 Second Avenue South Second Healy Family Home: 3131 Second Avenue South Schlocked: ‎2639-41 Bryant Avenue South 1976 Sheridan Avenue South: Preserved Exterior The William L. Summer House, 3145 Second Avenue South Two More in the Wedge Weapon of Mass Healy Destruction: I-35W Construction The Third: Healy Builds in the Wedge The Second: 3139 Second Avenue South Healy’s First House: 3137 Second Avenue South Anders Christensen, T.P.Healy, and the Healy Project

Healy House Hauntings


The formal staircase in the wrecked Healy-built Daggett mansion, with apparition, right. In this case, the house is the ghost and my Photoshopped granddaughter is real.

For nearly four decades I’ve been collecting and retelling ghost stories, as long as I’ve been researching and writing about the work of Theron Potter Healy. It seems that old houses and ghost stories just naturally go together, so it’s no surprise that I’ve heard about haunted Healy houses.

821 Douglas bw

Healy’s only Shingle Style house, 821 Douglas, wrecked for an apartment building.

Here are stories I’ve heard about houses built by T.P.Healy:

The first was told to me by a woman I’ll call “Lee” who was raised in one of Healy’s Queen Annes. As a child, she found the large Victorian house mysterious, even a bit spooky. One day when she was looking through the closet in her room, she discovered a pile of letters tied up with a ribbon. She took them out and read them.

The letters, she discovered, were those exchanged by a former resident of that room and her boyfriend in the military. Apparently the writer was, like her, the daughter of the homeowners.  Lee was taken aback to learn that the boyfriend was stationed at a base that had the same name as she.  As Lee read through the letters, it became clear that the writers were star-crossed lovers who never did get together. Her parents disapproved of him, and pressured her into ending the relationship.

Lee sometimes felt a presence in the room, and once, she saw the apparition of a young couple standing together by the closet.  She couldn’t help but wonder if they had been united eventually, if not in life, then in death.  Why the letters were still in the closet, Lee did not know. She put them back where they were and never looked at them again.  They are still in the closet, awaiting the next resident to find them and speculate about the full story surrounding their contents.

mrs. hudson old

The owner of a Healy house sitting in her parlor, long ago.

The second story involves another Healy Queen Anne on the same block as Lee’s former home.  The owner “Ted” says that he knew the house would be his from the moment he saw it while driving by.  He called the number on the “for sale” sign out front. The owner, who lived out of state, told him that the house was vacant, and that it would be difficult to get a key to Ted. Instead, the owner advised Ted to climb in through a basement window. And so he did.

Ted went from the basement, to the main floor, up the formal staircase to the second floor, then up to the third floor. As Ted was looking around the attic rooms, he heard someone moving around on the second floor. Ted froze, thinking that someone had seen him breaking and entering and had called the police. How could he explain that the owner had told him to break in?

However, when he went down to the second floor, no one was there. In fact,, the house was completely still. Ted checked the first floor and basement and found no one. Not intimidated by the mysterious interloper, Ted wound up buying the house, which he still owns and lives in today.

forman statue

The Ghost of Christmas Past appearing to a woman reading in the now-wrecked Healy-built Forman mansion, 1940s. Just kidding.

Shortly after Ted acquired the house, he invited a well known psychic in for a tour. She told him that the lower floors had residual hauntings, but nothing active. On the other hand, on the third floor “lived” a little boy ghost, an intelligent haunting. The psychic told Ted that the boy had said to her, “Ted doesn’t see me, but Newton does.” This freaked out Ted because Newton was his cat’s name–and the psychic didn’t know that. Ted still occasionally hears footsteps on the second and third floor, but is not disturbed by them.

healy grave bw

The graves of Theron and Mary Ann Healy in Lakewood Cemetery.

The next Healy haunting story involves a turn-of-the century house in South Minneapolis. Actually, I have stories from two owners about it.  When my first ghost story articles appeared the “Wedge” newspaper and the “Hill and Lake Press”, then-owner “Jake” told me that “weird things” were happening in the house. But when I asked him to explain, he demurred, saying he’d rather not think about it.

Ten years later I became friends with the couple who currently own it.  Owner “Cherie” told me that when she was in the front bedroom of the house, sometimes their dog would stand, hackles raised, looking out into the hallway at the top of the stairs. Occasionally, the dog would bark at something out there that the humans couldn’t see. At times they would hear footsteps in the hall and on the front staircase.

hudson entry old

The foyer in a Healy Queen Anne over a century ago.

While these owners didn’t know it when they bought the house, the neighbors eventually told them that someone had been murdered in the house. When the property was a rooming house, the landlord had gotten into a dispute with one of tenants. Their quarrel eventually escalated to the point that the landlord came to the house with a shotgun.  As the tenant stood at the top of the stairs, the landlord shot him. The tenant tumbled down the staircase, killed by the blast.

One sunny winter Saturday I was visiting with Cherie. We were talking and sipping tea in the parlor when we heard a loud “clink” from the kitchen. We hotfooted it through the pantry into the kitchen. To our amazement, a glass jar was sitting in the middle of the hardwood floor, intact. It had formerly sat on a shelf over the sink,  10 feet away. How did it get there? Perhaps an unseen resident was trying to make his or her presence known.

pergola Forman

The pergola in the wrecked Healy-built Forman mansion, 1902-1955.

Years ago, while I was writing the article about Healy for “Twin Cities” magazine, the owners of a Healy house in Central Minneapolis told me about their feline ghost. The house had been converted to a duplex; what had been the formal front stairs was accessible to both upper and lower units. Both the owners, one tenant, and two visitors had witnessed the apparition of a cat bounding down what was the main staircase. The cat seemed real and solid–until it passed through the closed front door and disappeared. Who knows what the back story to that is?

A final ghost story, which is not about a haunted house:  For the past four years, members of the Healy Project have met at different Healy-built houses to celebrate his birthday in May. On his 170th birthday, a group of Healy aficionados met at a house in the Wedge. We gathered around the cake on the dining room table and sang “Happy Birthday.” The candles stayed lighted throughout the singing. But the instant the singing stopped, a big gust of wind from the doorway blew them out. No fooling.

cake bw

Happy Birthday, Theron. Boo!

Do you have a ghost story to share? I’d love to hear it. Email me at and we can meet at a Twin Cities coffee house–or if you’re out of town–over the phone.

Next:  A post on haunted houses built by master builder Henry Ingham.