Monday, May 14, 2007
Unholiness in The Holy City
John is Kyle's brother. For the past several months he's been working for the Carolina Polo Carriage Company. He has a great love for history, meets people very well, and can entertain and turn-up the Southern Charm like no one else I know. So the job he has with this company has been a perfect fit.
So these days, whenever we meet John for dinner at a downtown restaurant, we always get some tidbits of history tied in with our downtown experience. It makes it interesting to learn the history of the area we're in without being inundated with facts and dates and names, all while smelling a horse's butt. I guess you could say that if you're interested at all - even marginally, as I am - we have a good connection with John, in that we certainly don't pay the tour fees, we don't get the inundated with uninteresting, useless information. We just get fun facts while we walk around.
And since we've become accustomed to this, and since Kyle's mom was in town for Mother's Day, and since we felt we had all the time in the world, when we finished our dinner, we asked John to take us on a tour. "Show us something interesting."
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to The Wentworth Mansion. Hands down, the most beautiful, most intriguing, creepiest place I've ever been to. What was once a private residence has now been turned into a hotel.
Interesting Facts about The Wentworth Mansion:
- The house was built in 1885 and was built so well, that during the Earthquake of 1886, it suffered no structural damage.
- It is rated one of the Top 500 Hotels in the World, and is the Top Rated Hotel/Inn in Charleston.
- Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon spent their honeymoon at this hotel.
Our first stop was the elevator. It was very small, so even just the four of us had to go up in shifts. So Kyle and I went up first. John and Ms. Edith followed shortly after. We were going up to the fourth floor.
As soon as Kyle and I stepped off of the elevator, I got a very eerie feeling.
At some point in here, I need to explain a little family history. This point is as good as any.
If you've ever been around John for any length of time, you know that one of his favorite things to do is to scare people with his stories about "the haunts and hags". In a way that no other family I know does, Kyle's family believes in ghosts! To the point that they speak this other language that I'm only just beginning to understand. Phrases like "jumpin' up on ya" don't have any sexual connotation at all, and are considered very serious. Kyle speaks of situations when he knew something was around him and just prayed that he didn't see anything.
And until we lived in a house that we believe had a ghost in it, I didn't understand any of this. And when unexplainable things would happen in our house, I would tell my family and they would laugh and kind of scoff at it, Kyle's family started praying immediately.
Ok, so back to last night. Kyle and I had just walked off of the elevator. It was a very slow elevator, so to kill time while we waited for the others, we started walking up the hallway. We found a spiral staircase heading into what appeared to be a small room upstairs. Kyle's curiosity got the best of him, so he started climbing the stairs.
No sooner had my foot hit the first step than I got the creepiest feeling. We were not alone. It was indescribable, really. Like the presence of someone in the room who ... was not present in the room. Who perhaps hadn't been for a lot of years.
We went upstairs and walked around this small room with lots of plaques hanging on the wall. There were windows all around, and it looked out over the whole city of Charleston. We decided to head back downstairs to meet John and Ms. Edith. We met them at the bottom of the stairs.
By this time, I was sufficiently creeped out. I did NOT want to go back upstairs. This feeling was not a passing feeling. It was with me the whole time I was walking up the stairs, while we were up there, and coming back down. Kyle, however, wanted to go back upstairs and see what John was going to show us. I tried to convince him to stay down with me, but he didn't want to, so I went up with him. (I was NOT staying down there by myself!)
So upstairs we went, and through a door where we walked around a balcony five stories off the ground. (It reminded me of the type of balcony that would be on the top of a lighthouse. It was very narrow and went around the windowed-in area with the plaques.) We were looking down on the tops of the many churches of The Holy City. I finally saw how crooked the steeple of the St. Philip's church is. (It was damaged during the Earthquake in 1886.) It was beautiful. And I relaxed while I was outside.
Back downstairs, we returned the first floor taking the staircase this time. The rest of the family laughed at me, as it seemed I was rushing everyone else downstairs. I was more than relieved to return to ground level.
We continued our mini-tour, constantly amazed at the beauty of this old house! It was just gorgeous. John found a sitting room with a lot of old books lining the shelves. He was snooping around in there, and Kyle and I poked our heads around a few corners. We found a stairwell that was in an area of the building that was probably "servants quarters" back in the day. Not as ornate. Plainly painted and carpeted, but still nicer than anything that would be in my house!
We returned to the sitting room with John and Ms. Edith, where John was still digging through the books. A few minutes later, he said, "Look at this! I think I found a diary!" He opened up to the front page. Apparently it's a secret book. (Sorry, I ruined it, but the story's not complete without it.) People who stay there who find the book are intended to sign it, write about their experience at the hotel, and date it. This small book only went back to 2005.
The very first entry that we read was from January 2006. "There's definitely something in the spiral staircase on the fourth floor ..."
And from February 2005: "While on the fourth floor, I was looking at pictures at the bottom of the spiral staircase when I heard a giggle. I turned quickly and saw a blond-haired little girl wearing a white dress as she disappeared up the stairs. I followed her up the stairs and once I got to the landing at the top of the stairs, I could tell that there was no one there. I heard a faint giggle before I headed back down."
Several people wrote of hearing giggles. "Room five is alive!" one writer said. And several people wrote about a secret key outside of Room 13 that gets you to "the room that goes nowhere". Everyone's experiences were positive, however. All the "beings" that they'd encountered were "not malevolent", as one writer put it.
Several people made mention of the staircase in the servant's quarters, the conference room, and alluded to secret passageways.
One writer shared some information that he believed to be true and that was that the ghosts were those of Mr. Wentworth and his three children, who all died very young and in the house.
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