QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2005-01 > 1106604736
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 17:12:16 EST
Saturday, January 22, 2005
She Wasn’t Bargaining for Ghosts
By Stephanie M. Mangino
The Winchester Star
Melinda Kramer has immersed herself in the past since purchasing a building
on the Loudoun Street Mall in December 2004.
She’s already received attention for the messages Civil War soldiers left on
the walls of the 178-year-old structure at 141 S. Loudoun St.
Now, it looks like she and her construction crew could be sharing space with
a host of former tenants.
Ghosts, to be exact.
Jim Keller owns the building’s first-floor clothing shop, The Bargain
Corner. He and his wife Marie also owned the building itself until selling to
Kramer. They’re shutting down the shop as of Jan. 31, and after 35 years of
occupancy, Keller said he has never seen or felt anything unusual in the building.
The upper floors house apartment spaces, none of which have been occupied
for 28 years, but Keller said when tenants did live there, none of them noted
anything odd, either.
“I think you see — lots of times — what you’re looking for,” Keller said.
Still, the thought of a ghostly presence didn’t seem to phase Keller, who
seemed to regard the idea with skeptical cheer, calling the results of a recent
visit by some paranormal investigators more fun than “a barrel of monkeys.”
Kramer said she contacted the paranormal investigators — local women she
will not identify — after learning about them from local Civil War historians.
And when the women walked through the structure earlier this week, they
found a spiritual presence in almost every room, Kramer said.
The most active spirit identified was one who stays mainly in the building’s
top-floor loft. She wears a blue dress, and she may be related to the
building’s first owners, the Sperry family, Kramer said.
The spirit is sassy, with a slightly imperious and protective personality.
“She told him off,” Kramer said as looked at her construction supervisor
Through one of the investigators, the woman in blue called Harrison a “wise
guy” — but in slightly less delicate terms.
Her opinion likely didn’t change when Harrison entered her preferred haunt
Friday and said, “Good Morning, Mrs. Blue Lady!” like a cheerful schoolboy
addressing a slightly stern teacher.
A little later, he sang, “Lady with the blue dress, blue dress, on,”
paraphrasing Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels’ hit, “Devil With A Blue Dress On.”
Harrison likes the idea of her being there, though. And if he were a young
guy — Harrison’s 58 years old — he said he’d enjoy living in the loft with
the “Blue Lady” and “having a love-hate relationship” with her.
But even as Harrison made his comments, the room remained quiet. No
unexplained draft blew through, and dust motes did nothing more than swirl gently in
It didn’t seem like the stereotype of a haunted room.
Kramer’s OK with things staying that way, too, she said. But she doesn’t
think the possibility of sharing space with spirits will discourage future
tenants, she said.
Anyone who believes in ghosts would naturally assume a building as old as
hers would have them anyway, she said.
Both Kramer and Harrison truly believe that ghosts are probably present, and
Kramer said one of the paranormal investigators told her that her own mother
was by her side as they walked through the home.
Kramer said the woman knew things about her mother that she couldn’t have
known otherwise, she added.
The investigators want to return and spend the night in the building, Kramer
said. And she plans on letting them do so after more renovation work is
Although they’ve homed in on the names of some of the spirits, the
investigators feel they have more work to do, including learning the identity of the
lady in blue.
And she’ll still be there by then. Kramer said the investigators say the
lady in blue plans to stay, and she’s even offered a decorating tip to Kramer.
She wants her loft walls adorned with Victorian blue flower wallpaper.
Kramer said she doesn’t plan on taking the wallpaper advice. However, she
respects the lady in blue, who has supposedly acted as a spectral house mother
for many, many, years.
“I totally embrace her,” Kramer said. She does so because she feels she
owes something to the people of the past, who want to be remembered to the
future — whether they wrote their names on the walls or have stayed on in spectral
Kramer said she embraces the history and richness of the house. And although
the treasures the home keeps yielding tend to be overwhelming, they keep
Kramer and Harrison coming back for more.
The whole experience — renovation, ghosts and all, have been “too much fun,”