The first house I ever bought was a beautiful 1918 tin-roofed structure in a historic Richmond, Virginia neighborhood. Oh, I loved that house. It was everything I wanted -- an older home with original hardwood flooring and amazing architectural detail. And all the wiring and plumbing had been updated, so it was a serious score.
The bathroom was pretty gross on move-in day, so the first thing I did was scrub everything from top to bottom -- I even cleaned inside the tub faucet and disinfected the shower head.
Every inch of that bathroom was examined and scrubbed. Halfway through his first shower in the house, my boyfriend yelled for me. He’d been standing with his back to the faucet when the soap fell into the tub and slid down towards the drain. He turned around to pick it up and stopped dead: A well-used little doll was laying in the tub.
Over the course of the next couple years, lights turned on and off, especially in the middle of the night. The dial-up modem started up when my boyfriend wasn’t home. I would frequently see a small figure standing on the stairs. The cats were obsessed with that spot on the stairs.
Then things starting disappearing -- but only items related to me. My favorite blue glass mixing bowl just disappeared from the counter one night. I was furious, thinking my boyfriend had broken it and just wasn’t telling me. About two weeks later, the bowl reappeared ... in the laundry room. My expensive eyelash curler got lifted twice ... and reappeared three weeks later, in the middle of the living room floor.
Heloise's DollThere were only a few other occurrences, one in which I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and a little girl in a rather old-fashioned blue dress was blocking the door. She said that her name was Heloise ... and I turned heel and went back to bed!
We happened to move a few months after that incident, simply because we were selling the house. But I confess, although she wasn’t scary, I was a little relieved to say goodbye.
A lot of people would explain away some of what I experienced, simply because we lived in an old house. Flickering lights are often blamed on spirits when they are really just loose bulbs or faulty wiring. Or that I was misplacing objects. Seeing someone on the stairs could just be a trick of the eye, etc.
But there are some very real phenomenons that can indicate your house is haunted:
Electrical strangeness -- Lights and televisions going on and off, radios turning on, and other electrical items (like modems) acting out of turn.
Unexplained noises -- I always discounted strange house noises, although we did hear them -- so many noises in an old house can sound like someone walking, etc. I’d say if you suddenly hear drums though, you might have something going on.
Disappearing object phenomenon -- Remember my mixing bowl? That’s this. Items disappear and then at some undetermined time, they reappear in an obvious spot that a search would not have missed.
Animal behavior -- Researchers say that animals will either freak out over certain areas or become obsessed with them (as my cats did).
Other signs that you might be sharing your abode include changes in temperature, smells that shouldn’t be there, doors opening and closing (when their is no mechanical problem such as loose hinges), feelings of being touched, and of course, actually seeing the apparition.
Have you ever lived in a haunted house? Let's hear about it!
Images (top to bottom) via Barb Ar/Flickr and Megan Van Schaick