Sunday, January 29, 2012

Haunting Huntsville, Alabama (Haunt Brief)

Early in this blog’s history I explored (or tried to) the ghosts of Huntsville, Alabama. The problem was that there was very little available. I found a few poorly written and unsourced articles that basically just repeated each other in terms of information. Besides those articles, there was very little, or so I thought. Just days before I posted the entry, Jessica Penot’s marvelous Haunted North Alabama had been released and in it, there were good, reliable information on a number of Huntsville’s hauntings plus information on locations that were not included in the few articles on the subject. After getting my copy of Ms. Penot’s book, I also began reading her blog which has included more locations in Huntsville. Since, I’ve kept an eye out for articles relating to Huntsville. In my usual search through Google News, I was surprised to find two articles about Huntsville tonight.

The first article, from the local ABC station, WAAY, concerns a business located on courthouse square, Huntsville’s historic heart. In many towns and cities in the South (and really throughout the nation), the courthouse or main square is also ground zero for hauntings, often due to the historic fabric that may be intact there. Huntsville is no exception, with a starkly modern courthouse sitting amid historic commercial buildings. The business is a pizzeria, Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria Gelateria (119 North Side Square), which is located in one of those historic commercial buildings.

The pizzeria’s website describes the building as having been built in the early nineteenth century and being one of the original buildings on the square. It continues by saying that the building has served as a general store, a dress shop and a gallery before becoming a pizzeria. The article states that the main floor of the pizzeria is quite normal, but it’s the large, unrestored room upstairs that has activity. The building was recently investigated by the Alabama Paranormal Association who certified the building as haunted.

The pizzeria’s location reminded me of an article from Jessica Penot’s blog, Ghost Stories and Haunted Places, regarding the Madison County Courthouse (100 North Side Square). A brief internet search does not reveal the history of the current courthouse building, but I would assume from the architecture that it was built anytime between the 1960s and the 1980s. I did discover, however, that the building sits on the site of the original courthouse that was constructed in 1818. According to the blog’s entry, apparitions have been seen in the building along with orbs and odd sounds and lights. One of the spirits may be that of Horace Maples, an African-American who was lynched by a mob on the courthouse lawn.

Madison County Courthouse, 2011, by Spyder_Monkey.
Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The second article I stumbled across concerns an upcoming investigation at the Veterans Memorial Museum (2060 Airport Road, SW) a museum displaying memorabilia from wars dating back to the American Revolution. Interestingly, the article points out that the investigation will not be in search of spirits that haunt the museum, but those attached to the artifacts within, specifically those from World Wars I and II. While it has been known that spirits may attach themselves to objects, interest in this has increased in the paranormal community, especially with the recent television show, Haunted Collector. The show features investigator John Zaffis who investigates a variety of hauntings usually centered on a specific object.

Tucked away in my files on the paranormal South is another article on an investigation at another Huntsville location, Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center (3320 Triana Boulevard). Opened in 2007, the performing arts center is located in an 1898 structure that once served as the company store for the mill village serving Merrimack Mills. This building and some 200 mill houses are all that remain of this important textile hub.

The investigation, conducted by the Alabama Paranormal Society, appears to have uncovered some interesting evidence. Among the evidence mentioned in the article, odd bangs heard in response to questions, a mysterious drop in temperature in the theatre and orbs are seen on video wheeling about the building. According to the article, the building may be inhabited by multiple spirits.

I imagine this is just the tip of the iceberg of haunted Huntsville.

Sources
     January 2012.
About Sam & Greg’s.” Accessed 28 January 2012.
About theVeterans Memorial Museum.” Accessed 28 January 2012.
     investigation.” The Huntsville Times. 25 January 2012.
Cure, Sarah. “Investigating Merrimack Hall with Alabama Paranormal
     Society.” The Huntsville Times. 31 October 2010.
Gallimore, Chase. “Huntsville Pizzeria Officially Haunted.” ABC WAAY.
      26 January 2012.
Penot, Jessica. “The Ghost of the Lynched.” Ghost Stories and Haunted
     Places. 17 March 2011.
Richter-Haaser, Elfriede. “History of Madison County.” Madison County
     Website. Accessed 29 January 2012.

2 comments:

  1. Hey! Thanks for mentioning me. I'm so flattered. If you are looking for Huntsville Haunts, Amazon.com has several books by Jacques Reeves and her research is flawless. She is more of a historian than a ghost story collector, although she is both. She runs the local ghost tours and has written numerous books on the region for history press, including Wicked North Alabama, Wicked Huntsville, Where Spirits Walk, and soon Haunted Huntsville.

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  2. Cool. We live so close to Huntsville and have friends who live there. We need to really go jaunting down that way some more and see what's what. Thanks for inspiring me!

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