Once again, the grand old house over on Sycamore Street would sit empty. It has had such a storied past. It just doesn’t seem right for it to sit empty. But then, few are brave enough to chance calling it home.
Built on a grand scale, back in the late 1800’s, by a wealthy railroad tycoon, the house had been the seen of some pretty lavish dinner parties. The address quickly became THE place to be seen. More than one Governor had been among those who had been honored guests. It was rumored that President Cleveland was to be a guest at one time, but that was kept quiet for political reasons.
Not many years after completion of the mansion, the railroad tycoon lost his fortune to a gambling addiction. Seeing no other way out of his mounting debts and legal entanglements, on a brutal cold winter night of 1898, he hung himself from the third floor staircase banister.
After the initial shock wore off, several affluent businessmen bid against each other for ownership of the property. But, a young doctor, setting up practice in town, became the surprise winner of the prized location. He and his wife had been a dinner guest there a few years earlier. They immediately were awestruck with its charm, and now it was theirs. For the next several years, the sounds of laughter rang from the walls of the house, as the couple began a family. A precious baby girl that quickly became the apple of her father’s eye. But, when an outbreak of polio hit the county, his gorgeous nine year old daughter was among the first victims. Distraught by his terrible loss, the doctor shot himself in the parlor in the Fall of 1911.
Despite talk of the house being cursed, it was never vacant long. Its charm was just too much to resist. The next family to call the lovely mansion home was a naval officer, his wife, and their two teenage children. This family seemed particularly well suited for the house. The children’s friends were often overnight guests, and the house was again bustling with activity. World War I had ended, and the officer was decorated before his well earned retirement. The day before he was scheduled to arrive by train at the Sycamore Street address, the gentleman met an untimely death in a strange accident that was never fully explained.
This time, the house sat vacant for several years. There was even talk of the City buying it to tear it down. The publicity it was bringing the town was becoming detrimental. But, once again, a dashing young gentleman scoffed at the rumors, and made the aging house his project. He was a free-spirited entrepreneur, who happened to enjoy race car driving as a hobby. Of course, you’ve likely already guessed it. A fiery crash in the 1954 Memorial Day race claimed the young man’s life in a horrific ending.
Most folks around town thought that would be the end of the glorious old house on Sycamore Street. It was showing signs of neglect, and then— given its history—who would be crazy enough to buy it? So, nearly 15 years of further neglect, as the house sat empty. Until an odd reclusive old journalist appeared in town, and soon made the old house his writing lair.
Once settled, the old man never left the house. He had his groceries delivered twice a month, and he let the weeds overtake the once beautiful grounds. Word was, he only furnished one room. He only had a few pieces, and he chose the old railroad tycoon’s third floor bedroom as his quarters. Coincidence? Right outside the door was the banister from which the railroader began the cursed history of the old house.
It would seem to take a strong nerve to exist in the house with such a wretched past. But the old journalist became quite content living in that single room over the 20 plus years he had now been there. After all, he had a lot of company. The ghosts of four prominent young men; each of whom had no desire to relinquish ownership of their prized mansion.
It’s now been nearly nine years since the old journalist died in that third story bedroom. Not even the spirit of the good Doctor could save him. Folks said he died of loneliness. But every night to this day, even though electricity has long since been disconnected to the old mansion, you’ll see a single dim light burning in that third story bedroom. A time or two, some kids set out to see what it was about. Each time, they came back with reports of a chilly draft which came from that third story bedroom as soon as they neared the top of the staircase. They also swear they saw fresh blood on the entry foyer floor, three stories below the banister outside that bedroom.