Wednesday, October 27, 2010

day 50: i couldn't get into epperson house

While still a student at UMKC, I wandered into a building I did not at the time know was haunted. But no fucking around, this place was creepy – I went in initially because I had to pee, and I found the toilet next to a hissing steam heater similar to the one that was in my cheap apartment at the time.

I can’t say what about the place gave me the jibblies, but it reminded me of the room in my grandmother’s farmhouse next to the attic stairs. My cousins and I called it the "game room," and it was filled with antique home decorations, assorted junk, an air-pump church organ, and a foosball table with the players’ painted faces fading. We would drink sodas and eat chips with our winter coats on, knocking moldy plastic balls back and forth between the conjoined feet of moldy plastic men until our mothers called us to bed. 

Despite being seriously in need of a deep cleaning, there was nothing specific about the room that should have caused me to close my eyes and hold my breath whenever I found myself alone in there. There was just... something about it.

After a few moments in the steam-heated bathroom, most likely en route to some ill-studied Shakespeare course, I ran down the stairs and out the door, convinced I’d accidentally stumbled into some kind of secret club for murderers and satanists, or some other forbidden place. I couldn't wait to go back and explore.

While hunting for ghosts, I’ve determined that I’m not the only one enchanted by Epperson House, the 91-year-old Gothic Tudor mansion at 52nd and Cherry on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. The former homestead is acknowledged as one of the most haunted houses in Missouri, having appeared on Unsolved Mysteries and earning a spot on the National Register of Haunted Places.

One of the resident ghosts is former owner Uriah Spray Epperson, who witnesses claim to have seen shambling down the hallways, as well as his "adopted daughter" Harriet, who was ten years older than Uriah's wife, Elizabeth, and whose adoption was never formalized. At the time of Harriet's death, she was overseeing the construction of a massive pipe organ, which was never completed. When UMKC music students used the space in the 1970s, many of them reported seeing Harriet wearing a blue evening gown and singing or crying while clutching a baby to her chest, or hearing organ music coming from the pool area in the basement.


Perhaps the creepiest story came from a security guard in 1979, who was rear-ended in the parking lot at night and whose experiences were reported in the Kansas City Star. He got out to see who had hit him, but there was no one there, car nor person. And though he had heard the sound of shattering glass, there was no damage to his car. It had, however, moved forward about eight inches, as evidenced by the skid marks on the pavement.

Unfortunately, when I arrived Epperson House was locked from all sides, and peering in the windows provided a bland view of ladders, paint cans and random trash, with UMKC's architecture and urban development departments having vacated the building in July. In other words, I’m batting 0 for 2 on my ghost hunting tour, although peeking in the windows like a common creeper did give me chills.

Five days left. I’m still searching for a ghost.

No comments: