Monday, August 6, 2007

Whispering Estates

Five graves reportedly fill the backyard while eerie voices and mysterious happenings greet visitors.

It’s all a part of the charm of Whispering Estates, a bed and breakfast located in the heart of one of Mitchell’s most desirable neighborhoods. And it’s part of what has ghost hunters and others coming back, time and time again.

For Jarret Marshall, who moved to Mitchell three years ago from Bloomington after purchasing the century-old home, the voices, ghosts and haunted happenings just add to the charm of the eloquently decorated place near some of Mitchell’s most historic homes on Warren Street.

“People who don’t believe in anything, rethink everything after staying here,” Marshall said.

The haunted activity started after Marshall, who is trained in historic home renovations, started breathing new life into the home once occupied by Dr. John and Jessie Gibbons, who lived there until their deaths in 1944 and 1934, respectively. The physician used two rooms as his office for at least three decades.

He didn’t know the home was haunted when he bought it to restore.

It was something he learned firsthand.

“I could tell the wall that separated the parlor from the front hallway was not original,” Marshall said. “I found pillars in the basement that fit that space perfectly, so I tore down the false wall and opened up the parlor. That’s when I found the original pocket doors hidden behind molding.”

That’s when soot and damage from a previous fire landed in his lap. And it’s the first time he experienced something he couldn’t explain.

“The door started shaking like someone wanted in, so I went to answer it thinking it was someone in my family. But when I opened the door, no one was there,” Marshall said. “It just continued from that point. I never really believed in this stuff before, and I didn’t tell anyone about it for the longest time. Now, it’s normal. The more I am here, the more it happens and the more I get used to it. It’s like having a family here — you almost begin to feel the connection.”

Several apparitions have been felt in the home by different people, but the strongest is the little girl whom Marshall believes is named Rachel.

“It’s one of the only places I’ve gone or that I’ve done that you can ask a question (to the ghosts) and get an audible answer back,” said Keith Age, who is using the house for a documentary he is filming for the SciFi channel titled “Children from the Grave.”

“It takes a lot for me to believe that there’s some activity somewhere, but when you get an audible answer back in different tones ... it’s not hard to believe.”

Age, representing the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society, and several other ghost hunters from different organizations have descended upon the home frequently to get a peek at the eerie activities that include voices, knocking, moving objects and shadow people.

“I’ve had to question myself on more than one occasion,” Marshall said. “We’re out in the middle of nowhere in this little town. Why would this house be active and not the next? It’s kind of interesting to me because I think the house is doing it. I think this house feels that it was here to help people.

“I think that what started off as this great life for this couple ended up being quite traumatic with a baby dying and the children dying. I think Rachel was a very strong little girl, and that’s why she is a very strong apparition here now.”

Do the haunted happenings ever scare Marshall?

“I’ve been freaked out a couple of times, and that’s only when I am caught off-guard,” he said. “The mind’s a powerful thing, it really is. But when I walked in here, it felt like I was home. It felt like the house was sad, like it needed me. It’s almost as if the house is waking up again. It’s recreating itself.”


Some things Jarret Marshall, the owner of Whispering Estates, or his guests have experienced:

#1 “Once I was sleeping in the room that used to be Dr. Gibbons’ operating room when I woke up to see someone or something leaning over top of me just inches from my face,” Marshall said. “I don’t usually scream, but this time I did scream out.”

#2 “We were sitting on the stairs to the attic one night when the ghost of an old woman — we guessed because she sounded like an old woman — came screaming down the stairs yelling at us,” Marshall said. “We all ran out of there screaming.”

#3One guest brought a doll to Rachel. It disappeared, only to reappear several weeks later when another guest brought her a new doll. The old doll appeared “from nowhere,” Marshall said, burnt up.

#4 Often, when Marshall takes the greyhounds he fosters outside, he’ll return to the back door only to find it locked. “When they start that early, I know we’re in for an active night,” he said.

#5 Strange smells, like men’s cologne and antiseptics, have been reported in the rooms.

#6 Whispering is often heard through the house; hence, the name “Whispering Estates.” Marshall has heard his name and other conversations.

#7 Water faucets turn on by themselves, lights flicker and Marshall had to turn off his land phone because it kept dialing 9-1-1, causing police to investigate his home more than once. Once, the tub in the upstairs bathroom flipped over, breaking the pipes.

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