Main Shriek

Do ghouls loiter about Independence? Take a ghostly walk through some popular Main Street haunts ... if you dare!



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Who's afraid of a little Independence?

INDEPENDENCE -- There's something strange in your neighborhood.

Who ya gonna call?

Your local veterinarian, of course.

Veterinarians Bob and Laura Archer are determined to get to the bottom of this ghost business in downtown Independence. They're gathering a posse of ghostbusters to confront the ghouls Friday, Sept. 27.

Ghosts like downtown Independence.

A number of them have taken up residence in businesses from Lenora's Ghost to the Speak Easy to Town & Country True Value Hardware.

People at the Independence Heritage Museum and various homes along Fourth Street have also reported ghostly sightings.

Anyone who wants to meet a ghost is invited to come along on the upcoming "Ghost Walk."

Ghost walkers will gather at the Masonic Lodge around 8 p.m. before striking out in search of spirits.

The Archers admit their building is pretty quiet. It used to be the Odd Fellows Lodge. The only thing odd these days is a legend about a skeleton found in a coffin in the old ballroom.

Marilyn Morton came up with the idea for the Ghost Walk after visiting San Francisco. "They have Ghost Walks there but they are more 'driving-around-in-a-limousine' than actual walks."

Scott Freeman, the master of the Masonic Lodge, will be one of the main leaders of the walk. He'll start things off with tales of ghostly Masons who still wander about the lodge.

From there, the tour will end about downtown Independence.

Morton thought the Ghost Walk would be a fun way to celebrate local history and kick off the Independence Hop & Heritage Festival.

"It's something that's not so dry and literal as usual historical tours," she said.

"You want to put a little showmanship into it, a little flair."

If local legends are to be believed, Independence is a veritable ghostly retirement community.

Once people here meet various gruesome ends, they while away their overabundance of spare time by bumping into things and basically making pests of themselves.

However, the community is apparently a congenial place to rattle about, even for spectres. Most of the local wraiths have made peace with their living neighbors.

Although this is by no means a complete catalog, here's a "Who's Who" to some of Independence more prominent phantoms.

Location:

Lenora's Ghost.

Address:

114 Main St., Independence.

Description:

The Sperling Building in downtown Independence was built in 1912.

It was once the Lerona Hotel. The name was later changed to the Beaver Hotel. It is now the bar known as Lenora's Ghost.

Sources:

Bar owner Chris Hofstetter, various employees.

Ghostly encounters:

OK, this is weird.

When Chris Hofstetter began renovating the Sperling Building several years ago, he started hearing ghost stories about the place.

Hofstetter's father suggested naming the place Lenora's Ghost, choosing the name seemingly at random. As the renovation continue, some original tile was revealed as well as the name of the old hotel once housed in the Sperling Building.

The Lerona.

Only two letters were transposed. Did some unearthly agent give Hofstetter's father a "suggestion?"

Beyond the name, there have been the stories. Old-timers tell Hofstetter of a young woman who came to Independence when her lover shipped off for World War I.

He never returned. When news of his death reached her, she plunged through the skylights that ran from the ceiling of the top floor through the lobby.

A stain, supposedly of her blood, still marks the barroom floor. Hofstetter has never been able to get it out.

Her restless spirit haunts the upper floors of the Sperling Building. Almost everyone who has worked at Lenora's Ghost has heard her bumping around up there.

At least 50 percent of the employees have reported seeing her ghost, usually in the kitchen.

Hofstetter said you can hear more than bumping in the upper floors. It sounds like distant voices, murmuring from several rooms away.

You can almost make out what the voices are saying, but not quite. "You hear noises like that all the time," he said.

Location:

The Speak Easy.

Address:

206 Main St., Independence.

Description:

The 1920s theme restaurant is in the J.S. Cooper Building, built in 1912. Known as Cooper's Landing, the building has gone through many incarnations in the past century.

Sources:

Restaurant owner Shelly Loynes, musician Dave Upton.

Ghostly encounters:

Cooper's Landing is a famous building in Independence.

In the 1920s, however, it was a house of ill fame.

At least according to Dave Upton. He used to play piano at the building back when it was the Independence House.

Every night, as he closed up, he could hear footsteps in the abandoned second story.

Upton claims to know the ghost by name. He's Dennis, a man who under mysterious circumstances back in the 1920s when the upper floor was used as a bordello.

When Tim and Shelly Loynes bought the building and started renovating it more than a year ago, they scoffed at the idea of ghosts.

"They laughed until they heard the noises themselves," said Upton.

Shelly Loynes said she didn't want to hear Upton's stories. That was until she had her own ghostly encounters.

A lot of spooky things happen in the building, she said.

"You can hear walking upstairs.

"One of our lamps in our front area came off the table and landed in the middle of the room. We don't know how that happened."

The door to the upstairs storage room inexplicably flies open.

Then there were the mannequins.

The couple had some heavy mannequins upstairs. One of them crashed through the window. There is no way it could have toppled by itself.

Someone -- or something -- had to knock it over.

Shelly Loynes thinks it all has to do with the building's troubled past. She isn't sure it used to be bordello, but she's heard there used to be a dental office upstairs.

"Lots of bad things have happened in this building over the years."

Location:

Independence Heritage Museum.

Address:

112 S. Third St., Independence.

Description:

Whether the ghosts are real or not, spirits of the past definitely inhabit the museum. The old First Baptist Church building is brimming over the artifacts from the community's past. The building itself is a museum piece, built in 1888.

Sources:

Local resident John Bruning, others.

Ghostly encounters:

The Heritage Museum in Independence is haunted by ghosts of the past.

Maybe literally.

Historian John Bruning believes. He sat alone in the basement of the Heritage Museum, typing away on his book about the air war in Korea.

Suddenly, he heard footsteps upstairs. A group of people murmured softly.

How could that be? The museum closed at 5 p.m. It was closing in to midnight.

Bruning crept cautiously upstairs to investigate. No one was there. Only mannequins. Although the murmurings stopped, from what Bruning could tell from the basement, they came from the exact spot where the mannequins stood.

If this were a horror movie, Bruning might have lingered long enough for something to jump out at him.

This wasn't a movie. "I didn't even stop to turn off my computer," Bruning said. "I just got out of there."

Bruning is convinced the Independence museum is haunted. He even said so in the acknowledgments of his book. He thanked the museum board for the use of the basement but said, because of the experience, he does believe in spooks.

He does believe in spooks.

"I never believed in ghosts or anything like that before, but that made a believer out of me," he said.

Scotty Girard, the museum's former curator, said she had a few strange experiences herself. "I used to hear stuff all the time."

Current curator Peggy Schorsch has heard a few bumps herself, and although she wishes they were ghosts, she remains unconvinced.

"We're not easily spooked and we don't want to scare the little kids," said Schorsch.

The building itself is a museum piece. It was built in 1888 and was a major gathering place in the town for decades. One of the ghost stories surround the church tells of ghostly singing from the old choir box.

Location:

Town & Country True Value Hardware.

Address:

301 Main St., Independence.

Description:

The building on the corner of Monmouth and Main streets dates to 1892 and was originally the Independence Masonic Lodge.

Sources:

Employee Dave Upton.

Ghostly encounters:

Something about this Upton guy must attract ghosts.

He's not only on a first-name basis with the ghost at the Speak Easy, but he claims to have some spectral customers drop in on him at the hardware store.

He was down in the basement cutting and threading pipe. The pipe was balanced on a brace. Suddenly, the pipe leveled out all by itself and tapped him on the back.

Location:

Houses along Fourth Street in Independence.

Address:

Various.

Description:

Legend holds that the Fourth Street once found itself on the banks of the Willamette River during a flood.

Sources:

Local legends.

Ghostly encounters:

Numerous residents of houses along Fourth Street have supposedly reported ghostly happenings through the years.

None of them contacted would confirm any current ghostly activity.



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