Ghosts, Poltergeists & Apparitions > Ghostly Encounters

Scott Opera House in Fairmount


When Judy Cowling started hearing stories that the Scott Opera House in Fairmount might be haunted, she had her doubts.

"It's like sitting around the campfire telling a ghost story. It has entertainment value," said Cowling, president of Historic Fairmount, which owns the opera house located above the NAPA store on Main Street. The nonprofit group is in the process of raising money to renovate the opera house, which was built in 1884.

For the past year students, including Cowling's son, Andy, have been renting the building for band rehearsals, Judy Cowling said. It was not long after they started that the stories began.

There were eerie noises -- typical of old buildings, they thought.

Then, lights would go off for no reason.

Things would move from one place to another within minutes, even if there was no one in the room to move them.

And then someone saw the face of a bearded man.

The kids were scared, and began bringing their Bibles with them to rehearsals.

Still, Judy Cowling was not convinced it was supernatural.

"I'm very skeptical," she said.

To prove her point and to calm their concerns, Cowling decided to spend an evening in the old opera house with the kids.

She ended up trapped in a room behind a door that had been unlocked when she went in but strangely became locked when she tried to leave.

Cowling shrugs it off, saying she may have been anxious at the time and the old door must have gotten stuck.

But the teenagers believe otherwise.

"I had a guitar cord that was wound up and sitting on top of an amp," Andy Cowling said. "It stood straight up (in the air), kind of like a snake (gradually uncoils) with a snake charmer. It was kind of weird."

And scary.

"If you're alone or there are only two people up there, you're kind of nervous," he said.

Sara Ballinger, who co-owns Walnut Creek Golf Courses with her husband, Randy, can relate. The clubhouse at Club Run, one of the Walnut Creek courses, also has been the sight of some strange happenings. The Isreal Jenkins House was built by Quaker Friends in 1840 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house has been in the Ballinger family since David and Amelia Ballinger bought it in 1882 from the widow of the original builder, Isreal Jenkins.

Sara and Randy Ballinger have owned the house since 1988 but had used it mainly for storage until 2000, when they restored it.

But during the restoration process, people reported hearing sounds of someone coming up the stairs, yet finding no one there.

"We had one painter who said he wouldn't work there at night anymore because he felt like someone was watching and he would see shadows in the hallway," Sara Ballinger said. "He would see a door opening and closing. I heard the door open and close, and thought my husband had come in, but there was nobody there."

More recently, a group of three golfers came up the fairway one day into the clubhouse and said they saw someone watching them from an upstairs window. The golfers assumed it was an employee in the attic, but Sara Ballinger said no one ever goes in the attic and the door is padlocked shut.

Cowling said the reports at the Scott Opera House prompted officials to call in experts in March.

Enter the South Bend chapter of the Indiana Ghost Trackers, a group formed to provide information regarding paranormal activity, more specifically, ghosts.

The group set up sound equipment at the opera house, checked for changes in the electromagnetic fields that might indicate ghosts and took photos to try to capture images unseen by the human eye.

But too many curious onlookers showed up for the ghost hunt, which may have spooked any ghosts from making an appearance that day, Cowling said.

But residents are not giving up. The Indianapolis chapter of Ghost Tracker is planning its own investigation in Grant County soon, Cowling said.

Meanwhile, Cowling said she has been approached by others in the area who believe their houses also may be haunted.

One person offered to schedule an exorcism for the opera house; others have offered to have a prayer group in the building.

But Cowling said Ghost Tracker was called in mainly to satisfy their curiosities, and if there are spirits in the building, she said she won't disturb them.

"If there's something, I think keep a low profile," she said.

Ballinger agrees: "We'll just leave it alone. I'm not interested in having a seance or anything."


[0] Message Index

Go to full version