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Victorian Lady on Cherry Street

This happened to me in August of 1996. We were moving into Oregon Hill, in the 300 block of S. Cherry Street. The house was (and is) pretty much intact and as it was when it was built in about 1896. No walls have been removed or moved, and only plumbing and electric has been added since construction. There may have been a separate kitchen building, but it's been gone for a very long time. I found evidence of a structure at the end of the yard, at the alley: probably a garage.

We were moving in. The previous occupant, a renter and her pre-teen son, had moved out, for the most part. Most of the house was empty. I went upstairs to look around, to decide where things would be placed.

The house - you may know them well -- is 15 feet wide. The front door opens to a long hallway; to the right is the parlor (the door is still there, though it's been replaced in the last 25 years or so). Further down the hall is the stairwell. Stairs go up to a landing, and then up to the second floor. At the top, one is on another landing; a right turn puts you into the center room, while a left turn offers the front room. The only windows are on the front and back of the house, because it's attached to one neighbor and not quite touching the other neighbor. The house faces east; to the west is Hollywood Cemetery.

I went quietly up the stairs, and walked into the front room. I was looking for the electrical outlets, which I knew were between the two front windows. So I was looking straight into the room, toward the windows. There was nothing in the room: all furniture had been removed.

I stepped into the room to get a better feel for the location of the outlets. As I entered the room I was conscious of a movement to my left. I glanced left and saw a woman, dressed in black, sitting in a rocking chair. She wore a Victorian house dress, all black. She looked at me and I looked at her; there was no eye contact, I think. And then she was gone.

Just gone. As though there were never anything there. I went to the corner where she sat, to look for artifacts. Nothing. Not even a disturbance of dust.

I got the information I came to get, and wandered back downstairs. I asked the real estate agent and the house inspector if there were any tales of ghosts. They didn't know of any such.

We put our bedroom in that front room. The next morning was Saturday and we were awakened by sounds of screaming in the street. Small girls, playing ... I'd not heard that for years.

Over the next year, we heard creaking on the stairs at irregular intervals. Some times between 11:30 and 12:30 every night, there was a loud bang in the stairwell. As though something were being tossed off the top landing to the middle one, it seemed. Nothing had been moved, as best we could determine.

After a year it was quiet. There's been little evidence of any extra presence in the house. But we have put some very nice Victorian mirrors and glassware on the middle landing. And we uncovered the brick walkway in the back yard.

No, I have no idea who she might have been. No one knows anything about her. I didn't get a good look at her face, but the feeling I got from her was that she was young ... perhaps in her 20s.

Nothing like it since. We decided early in our life here to restore the house so that the first wife here would be able to smile and clap her hands at the fact that the house looks, in 2001, the way it looked when she moved into it a century earlier. I like to think she knows we mean well and that we do try to understand her.

Written by M.H. on 1/25/01.

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