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Local ghost hangouts
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Haunted corner of Pearce Auditorium balcony - photo by Tom Reed

Foster House

The Foster House in Cumming was built in 1887 by Henry Foster, who lived there with his wife Mamie and seven children until his death in 1901.

Many have reported strange occurrences at the house, which was restored in 2003 and became The Foster House restaurant.

One of the most interesting stories happened one afternoon while Amanda and Jeff Davis were restoring the house.

A couple came by intending to help the Davises paint, Amanda Davis said. When they approached the front door, they saw two figures — a man in overalls and a woman in a dress — pass through a wall and appear on the other side, she said. Even stranger was that the ghosts were noticeably frightened by the intruding couple and turned to run before vanishing, she added.

Davis said she's also smelled pipe smoke and heard a music box playing faintly. She said her husband once saw a broom standing up in the middle of the room.

"We just say ‘Oh it must be Henry,'" Amanda Davis said.

Martha McConnell, co-president of the Historical Society of Forsyth County said she has heard several stories about the house.

"People have looked in the window at night and seen things," McConnell said.

She recalled her own experience at the restaurant early one evening. She said her drinking glass moved and all of a sudden there was a loud noise that sounded like a book was slammed on her table.

"We never knew where the sound came from," McConnell said.

Davis said she and the restaurant staff go out of their way to make sure the spirits don't feel like they're being disrespected.

"If there are things here, they're very happy," Davis said.

Savannah King


Gainesville Library

It seems fitting that the ghost of the library would haunt the rows of history and biography books.
Several library employees have reported seeing what they call the Lady of the Library, or Miss Elizabeth, in eerie detail.

She is described as wearing a long, dark skirt with a white shirt and a dark shawl. Her dark hair is pulled away from her plain face; on her neck she wears a broach.

Late one evening, Gail Hogan, library assistant in youth services, and Barbara von Eppinger, library circulation, were walking back to the library. As a new employee, von Eppinger looked up to admire the building.

"As my eyes scanned the building, the first window directly upstairs to your right I saw a white oval. ... It was perfectly a facial shape," von Eppinger said.

Hogan noticed the face too but wasn't phased by it.

Since Hogan started working at the library in 1990, she's gotten used to the idea of a ghost.

Hogan said Miss Elizabeth has turned the lights on and off, set off alarms, moved chairs, turned on faucets and loves to ride the elevator up to the second floor.

"We kind of take it in stride," Hogan said.

Hogan has made it her mission to find out who Miss Elizabeth is.

Through her research she found that the library sits on a property with a spooky past.

It is the site of the Wheeler Hotel and before that the home of Minor Win Brown and the Brown Family Cemetery. The bodies were moved to Alta Vista Cemetery in the 1920s.

Could the Lady of the Library be the spirit of a woman who was murdered in the hotel or the restless soul of a long-forgotten corpse?

"These are all unanswered questions that we're waiting for," Hogan said, though she tends to think Miss Elizabeth's story comes from an earlier time.

Hogan said she feels that Miss Elizabeth comes from the Civil War era because of her outfit, her preference for the history sections of the library and because she can often be seen looking north in the window, the direction Civil War soldiers would have marched toward Tennessee.

Hogan said she can't be sure who Miss Elizabeth really is but intends to keep searching.

"I may be on a wild goose chase, but I keep telling her ‘give me clues. They've got to be big ones,'" Hogan said.

Savannah King


The Adams House

The two-story white Adams House, now owned by Regions Bank, is located behind the North Georgia History Center on Brenau University's campus. It was once owned by a Gainesville resident named John Adams and his family.

When a local woman turned the house into a business, she started reporting strange occurrences, said Kathy Amos, director of the Brenau University Center for Lifetime Study.

Amos started investigating and discovered the Adams family lost their 14-year-old daughter, Lucy.

"The mother was so distraught by her death that the father built another house up on Green Street next door (to where Mellow Mushroom is now)," Amos said.

Amos wasn't sure whether to believe Lucy actually haunted the Adams House until she had some ghost hunters come on one of Brenau's ghost walks.

"We could sit there and ask questions and Lucy would respond to the questions (via a meter)," she said. "And then on another trip we went there, we actually have a voice on tape. As I'm going into the house ... somebody asked me a question, and there is this little tiny voice that says ‘Mama.' And there was nothing other than adults up here."

Amos also has a series of three unusual pictures taken from inside the Adams House during a ghost walk. The first picture shows kids on the tour listening to a woman tell Lucy's story. Behind the woman is a window, dark because it's night outside.

The picture taken immediately after shows the same kids, the same woman, but the window instead of showing a night sky shows a springtime vision of blue skies and trees with green leaves. The third picture in the series shows the same night sky as the first.

Amos chalks up some of her odd photographs to faulty camera angles but said the window is hard to ignore.

"I do know there have been strange things that happened in that house. I do know what I saw, which was the meter working. And I do know what I heard, which was the voice on tape, which just totally blew me away the first time I heard it," Amos said.

Since these experiences, the ghost of Lucy has been "let go" from the Adams House, but the legend and questions of her haunting remain.

Dallas Duncan


Pearce Auditorium

One of the most well-known Gainesville ghost stories is that of Agnes, one of three entities believed to haunt Pearce Auditorium and its connecting buildings.

Agnes was a Brenau University student, who according to legend, hanged herself on campus.

Different stories tell different locations of her death — the oil lamp in her bedroom, the diving board in a pool or the balcony in Pearce Auditorium.

But no one knows who Agnes was.

"We thought we'd narrowed the story down and in fact the Agnes of legend was Agnes Galloway of North Carolina," said Kathy Amos, director of the Brenau University Center for Lifetime Study and the Brenau University Learning and Leisure Institute.

But despite hours of searching through yearbooks and records, Agnes Galloway wasn't the right one, and the identity continued to elude researchers.

Another possibility is that the name Agnes comes from a play the university did about the Dare Stones, which are believed to have been part of the Roanoke colony in North Carolina. One of the stones has the name "Agnes" engraved on it.

Name origin aside, Amos insists there is definitely something haunting the buildings.

"I've now had four different groups come and hunt for Agnes. As it stands now, we think there are three different entities there and one is male," Amos said.

They believe one ghost is male for two reasons — one being they recorded an electronic voice phenomenon saying "What" in a deep, aggravated voice, and second because during World War II, soldiers stationed in Gainesville lived in the top floor of Pearce.

"(The voice) freaked all of us out," Amos said. "There is something there."

Amos' beliefs are furthered by several things that happened while telling Agnes' story in the auditorium during one of Brenau's ghost walks.

When she still thought Agnes Galloway might be the ghost, Amos told the audience Agnes loved pink roses, part of a story published in a book about the woman.

"I walk back (to the rear of the auditorium) and all of a sudden there was this thunk," Amos said.

"Row G, seat 13 — G for Galloway, 13 unlucky. The seat had flipped down all by itself."

The next time the story was told, what looked like pink rose petals floated down from the catwalk.

They were crepe paper flowers, most likely from a previous Brenau play, blown down by a gust of wind. But Amos said the incident freaked her out a bit.

Last year on the ghost walk, Denise Roffe, co-founder of the Southeastern Institute of Paranormal Research, said she saw the full-body apparitions of a woman, man and child while inside Pearce.

"(The woman) was standing there but she looked transparent," Roffe said.

She got up quietly to see if the woman was a prank or just a member of the tour group. Usually when she senses something, Roffe said she will move to that area and sit to see if the apparition will return.

That was when she saw the woman with the man and child.

"It was very fast. I knew what I was seeing were apparitions. I tried to talk to them," Roffe said.

She sensed they were somehow related, but was unsure if they were family, neighbors or if they had known each other before they died. The woman was wearing turn-of-the-century clothing, but the other two wore overalls, making them hard to place.

She said she was unsure whether the man could have been associated with the WWII soldiers.

The apparitions are just a few examples of haunted Pearce.

"Lights going off or coming on at weird times — we've had that happen," Amos said. "Up in the light box ... we've seen things move up there more than once."

And then there's the costume room.

"One of the most impressive and interesting places for me is the old costume theater facility on the third floor," Brenau University President Ed Schrader said. "It's really spooky. And then when you go from there to the crosswalk that goes over Pearce, you know she's up there."

Dallas Duncan

 

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