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Henry Ingham was a master builder contemporary with T.P. Healy. Originally from Knaresborough, Yorkshire, Ingham arrived in Minneapolis armed with royal certification as a master carpenter. He began building two years before Healy, in 1884, and was active until 1933. To date, researchers have found 144 structures with Ingham’s name on the building permits (similar to Healy’s output). Along with fellow Englishman Henry Parsons, Ingham and Healy make up the “Big Three” of Minneapolis master builders. Unlike Healy, Ingham is known primarily not for his design skills, but for his exquisite craftsmanship as a carpenter. One of his houses has built-in hardwood cabinets and drawers in every closet, including those used by the servants.
It should come as no surprise that I’ve heard stories about haunted Ingham houses. Here are a few I’ve collected over the years:
Occupants of a house built by Ingham and used as a mixed-use office/residence told stories of footsteps sounding in the halls and staircase at night, and lights in the kitchen going off and on when no one was in the room. One resident, “Doug,” said that he had heard the back door open and shut several times in the middle of the night, but when he went out to investigate, no one was inside or outside. None of the tenants much liked going into a dark, small room off the kitchen, and they used it solely as a storage area. Formerly a rooming house and previous to that, a boarding house, the house has had many residents over the years. Apparently at least one of the departed former tenants has chosen to hang around.
Several blocks away is a single-family Ingham house that has had at least one revenant put in an appearance or two. The family w ho lived there in the ’70s and ’80s told me a number of stories about their paranormal experiences at the house. When “Karen” and “Dave” moved in, even though they liked the house, they frequently got the feeling that the house wasn’t completely theirs, as if someone else’s presence still persisted in certain rooms. One night Karen and a friend came to the house, entering through the back door. The rest of the family wasn’t at home, and for a while the two women puttered around in the kitchen, reluctant to leave it. Finally, the friend remarked, “Don’t you feel like running through the house, looking under the beds?” The friends shared a laugh, but then both admitted that they strongly felt a presence in the house and were not eager to leave the kitchen. After a while, this feeling passed, and they ventured into the parlor without incident.
The couple’s daughter, who was three at the time they moved in, quickly acquired the unorthodox habit of leaving her room in the middle of the night to sleep in the hallway. She continued this practice two or three times a week for several years, yet could not explain why she felt the need to leave her room. One night, Karen decided to sleep in the daughter’s room and see what, if anything, would happen. She was awakened by the disturbing impression of hearing a hell-and-brimstone sermon delivered by a male voice. The disembodied voice, like that of a sidewalk evangelist, harangued an invisible audience about sin and perdition.
“Dave” also had a curious experience. He was working in the backyard when a strange old man carrying a violin case appeared at the gate. Pointing to the window of their son’s bedroom at the back of the house, the man said that he had lived in that room for nearly 25 years. He had stopped by because he had recently been having recurring dreams about being in the house. He did not know why this was happening, only that it had become a regular, unsettling occurrence.
Their son had an encounter with the ghost, but only once. As he was coming out of his room one morning, he saw a misty figure emerge from the bathroom, turn to look at him, and disappear into his sister’s room. The apparition was that of a middle-aged man, his mousy brown hair wet as though he had just washed it. Was this ghost and the unseen hellfire evangelist one and the same? They never did find out.
Across town multiple residents of another Ingham house have felt the presence of the ghost of a little boy. “Mike” lived in the large house for a while. Many years before he moved in, a mother and her two-year-old son were brutally murdered in an arson fire in the house next door. Mike knew this but his partner “Ron” did not. Therefore, Mike was surprised when Ron told him that he frequently felt the presence of a small boy, but Ron never actually saw the child. Mike was pretty freaked out when Ron said that the boy would often crawl under their bed.
After Mike and Ron moved out, their friend “Jon” rented the house. Jon, like Ron, knew nothing of the fire that had killed the woman and boy. He worked out of the house as a massage therapist. One woman client, after coming back for several sessions in the house, asked Jon if he was aware that the house was haunted. He said that he did not and asked her who the ghost was. “A little boy,” she replied.
Mike had another strange experience with the house. Mike and Ron brought their cat Midnight with them when they moved into the house on Halloween a decade ago (a foreshadowing of paranormal developments?). However, when they moved out, the cat refused to leave with them. He would run away from their new place and go back to the Ingham house. Their friend Jon, a cat lover with a cat named Tom, was now occupying the house. They assumed that Midnight just liked Jon and Tom better than he did Mike and Ron. But a while later, Jon and Tom moved out of the Ingham house and moved in with Mike and Ron, leaving the house vacant.
Nobody lived at their former home, and nobody was there to take care of Midnight. Yet the cat continued to run away and go back to that house. Midnight had lived many places. He had not lived in the house for very long, so what was his attachment to the place? As Mike was friends with the owner and had keys, he finally just let Midnight into the vacant house and would go over to feed him. Midnight now had the Ingham house all to himself. But why did he want to live in this large, empty house alone? After Mike told a friend about the cat’s puzzling behavior, she replied, “Well, maybe Midnight is not alone in that house.” This suggestion gave Mike goosebumps. He now believes that Midnight has become the little boy ghost’s cat. Midnight still lives there to this day with the current residents–including the child’s spirit?
The last story involves an Ingham house that was wrecked to put in Mueller Park in the Wedge neighborhood. One of the tenants, “Jen,” who occupied the upper unit just prior to the house’s demolition told me that she heard inexplicable footfalls. On several occasions, sometimes at night, sometimes during the day, she heard what sounded like someone walking up the staircase to the second floor. When she looked out into the stairwell, no one was there. Her roommate also reported hearing the footsteps, too, when he was alone in the apartment. Jen also occasionally felt like she was not alone in the apartment, although she could see or hear nothing out of the ordinary.
I’ve kept the other addresses anonymous because these days homeowners fear would-be ghost investigators showing up on their doorsteps more than they fear being made fun of for telling such stories. However, since this house is gone and no building replaced it, I can give the address: 2510 Bryant Ave. S., built 1898. At midnight on Halloween, perhaps you’d like to venture over to Mueller Park to where the house once stood and listen for ghostly footsteps ascending a ghostly staircase. Or perhaps it’s best just to sit at home and raise a toast to the spirits and wonder. . ..
I’ve collected dozens and dozens of ghost stories since my first article, “Enter Ghost”, was published in the Wedge neighborhood newspaper in October of 1978. I’ve collected stories of haunted houses, museums, hospitals, ships, highways, barns, churches, schools, theaters–you name it. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear about your experience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have a ghost story to share? I’d love to hear it. Email me at email@example.com 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.
On the evenings of October 23rd and 24th, guests gathered in a restored 1892 Queen Anne house in Lowry Hill East to hear folklorist Trilby Busch tell ghost stories. Owners Christina Langsdorf and Ezra Gray staged the house with creepy Halloween accoutrements and set out trays of “mummies”, “ghosts”, and candy as refreshments. The storytelling itself was lighted only by candles and a single lamp.
Trilby retold ghost stories she has collected about houses in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and smaller towns in Minnesota. One of the stories was about a ghost who had haunted a house in the neighborhood. On Saturday night, when the storytelling ended, Christina announced that their eight-day clock in the front parlor (which had been wound up that afternoon) had stopped short of 8:30, as Trilby was telling this story. The clock had worked perfectly for years without stopping. Had the ghost dropped by to alert them that he is still around?
–Event photographs by Richard Mueller
–Decoration photographs by Christina Langsdorf.