Decatur, Illinois is known for being the first home of former President Abraham Lincoln. It is also the largest city in Illinois. If you are to visit Decatur, there are a lot of tourist spots to see such as the Scovill Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Illinois, Lake Decatur, Rock Springs Conservation Area, Decatur Park District, Chevrolet Hall of Fame Museum, and so much more.
A photo of downtown Decatur, Illinois. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decatur,_Illinois)
Another place you should not miss to visit is the Culver House. However, it is said to be haunted so it would be best to visit if you are into paranormal activities and would want to hopefully see the ghost that allegedly haunts this home.
A photo of the Culver House as seen from the outside. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/259871840973313957/)
The History Of The Culver House
The Culver House is locate at 412 W. Prairie St. and has been in the area since the year 1888. It was built for a local attorney named Josiah M. Clokey. The Culver House had a first and a second floor. The first floor contained the reception area, a parlor, a sitting room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a pantry. The second floor was an open space and had five bed chambers.
Later, the Culver House was traded to one Louis E. Brown after Clokey opted to live in a farm in Henry County. More years passed and Brown traded the home to John H. Culver. He was a famous personality and a known businessman in the area. He and his family renovated the home and added a third floor where a ballroom was added.
Culver owned a monument company and an electric company. He even expanded by making power houses in small towns in Central Illinois. Aside from being known as a businessman, he was also known for his book collection, which is said to be the largest privately owned library in Decatur. Accordingly, at that time, he owned more than 1,000 books. He lived in the Culver House until his last breath on July 5, 1943.
After his death, his wife continued to live there. However, when one of the daughters died in the house, too, Culver’s wife decided to let the house go because it was too much for her. The Culver House was then turned into an apartment. A fire, however, took place in 1979 and managed to destroy the home. During that time, the owners received money from an insurance company so they repaired the home. However, the third floor was never finished and only a flat roof was placed above it. After the destruction due to the fire, the apartments were opened again on January 1981. The owner was not able to keep up with the city code and had violations. The Culver House was then shut down.
An old photo of the Culver House. (Link: https://herald-review.com/news/local/historic-culver-house-still-needs-help/article_b7c0ea87-93d6-5c67-8c41-777c6ae0e8f9.html_
During the time that the Culver House was closed to the public, homeless people and drug users took refuge inside it. Later, there were two attempts made to have the Culver House demolished. Fortunately, the Historic Decatur Foundation saved the Culver House from such ill fate and made it into a historic home. The Culver House is said to be the only home left that remains standing which was a Queen Ann style home in the whole of Decatur. Now, it looks like the original exterior of the home before the third floor was added.
The Ghost At The Culver House
Legend has it that even before Culver died, the Culver House was already haunted. Per the stories, Culver and his wife, Florence, were having dinner one evening in 1903. Florence later saw something come out of their fireplace and it made her hysterical.
The fireplace at the Culver House. (Link: https://herald-review.com/news/local/culver-house-opens-its-doors-to-explores-myths-and-folklore/article_8fb824e2-e24c-11df-be9b-001cc4c03286.html)
Accordingly, she saw a black apparition. Lynn Potter of the Historic Decatur Foundation shared in a statement that the black apparition “floated across the room, through the wall, into the kitchen and then it disappeared. The next morning, she insisted her husband have the fireplace bricked up to keep whatever it was from coming down the chimney again.”
An old photo of John and Florence Culver. (Link: https://herald-review.com/news/local/historic-culver-house-still-needs-help/article_b7c0ea87-93d6-5c67-8c41-777c6ae0e8f9.html)
That black figure was not specific to the Culver House, though. Florence was the first to see it but other residents in the West End of Decatur claimed that they saw the same figure. Some even said that the figure was carrying a stick or a baseball bat. Others wholeheartedly thought that it was supernatural but some said someone was scaring them and just wore a costume. Because the black ghost became such a huge story, many tried to capture it.
To this day, however, no one could explain that figure that came out of the fireplace of the Culvers.
John Culver’s Ghost
Aside from the black ghost that terrorized not only the Culvers, but the rest of Decatur, another ghost that it said to haunt the Culver House is none other than John Culver. People who walked by the house in the evenings claimed that they saw a man peering out of the windows of the home’s library. Accordingly, they saw that man even if no one lived in the Culver House anymore.
Other Deaths At The Culver House
The paranormal activities at the Culver House might also be explained by the deaths that took place there aside from that of John’s. Reports say that at the time the Culver House was converted into apartments, a woman committed suicide in the year 1966. And in 1988, a tenant named Patsy Rosich was murdered. Her boyfriend reportedly killed her.
A Tenant’s Testimony
A tenant who goes by 30Stones on the website Your Ghost Stories shared that he and his girlfriend once rented one of the apartments at the Culver House. He said that a little after he moved in, his girlfriend became emotional. The girlfriend was reportedly always freaking out about an angry old ghost who is pissed at them for living in his house in sin. Aside from that, they noticed that a closet door refuses to stay closed. The writer shared, “It seemed as if it was a contest of wills; I’d close it, it would be back open. Just a few inches. Enough to annoy me. One night before we went to bed, I dragged a pile of her college books and plunked them right in front of that door… Bright and early next morning, what do you think I saw? That door was as WIDE OPEN as that book pile, now against the wall, would allow it. THAT shook me up!”
He also shared about that one time they were on the street in front of the Culver House as they were on their way to an event. He heard his girlfriend scream suddenly and she insisted that she saw a man looking at them from one of the windows on the second floor. She described the man as little and balding. Years after this happened, the writer was talking to someone about his experience at the Culver House. He was so shocked to know that the person he was talking to also experienced the same thing, and when they looked at some of the later photos of John Culver, the description fit him well – little and balding.
A month after they stayed at the apartment, they just had to move out. A month after they left, he said that the murder took place as stated above.
Culver House at night. (Link: https://www.culverhousedecatur.com/)