All the old Oak Park haunts

Local stories of ghosts and unexplained happenings

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With Hallow's Eve upon us, Wednesday Journal decided to rummage through Oak Park's past and dredge up a handful of places (allegedly) haunted by ghosts and other unusual occurrences:

130 S. East Ave.

Oak Parker Dave Schweig probably has the most intense ghost experience on record in the village, which he first revealed to the Journal in 1989. Allegedly, after moving into a home onto the 100 block of South East Avenue in 1970, strange things started happening. Built in 1885, spirits of the original owners, Eleanor Caldwell and her husband, may have haunted the house. Talk about property rights!

Once while target shooting in the basement with ear muffs on, Schweig, now 71, heard a "hideous scream" coming from upstairs when no one else was home. He heard pounding upstairs, ran up and found no one. Maybe it was the Handgun Ban-shee.

One morning the family found its five bicycles moved from the basement and neatly stacked in the yard. Another time, Schweig carefully carried his three sleeping daughters out of the house to take them somewhere else. When he picked up his last daughter, 12 at the time, she started thrashing around and cursing like she never had before. As soon as he crossed the threshold, his daughter went limp and fell asleep, Schweig said.

The family held an exorcism and séance before vacating the home. Schweig is semi-retired and still lives in Oak Park on South Humphrey Avenue.

Dole Branch Library

Robin Terrana, branch assistant at the Dole Library (255 Augusta Blvd.) for 17 years, said the library used to have regular visits from ghosts. Once in 2004, while taking a break in the back room alone, she distinctly heard the sound of a woman brushing her hair. A co-worker was the only other person in the library, she had short hair, and was nowhere near Terrana at the time.

Another time, members of the Model Railroad Club, which meets in Dole's lower level, left the closed and empty library at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night and claimed they saw a woman looking out the window, wearing a brown dress. Other times, while holding late meetings, club members said they heard footsteps upstairs, but found no one there.

Another time, Terrana heard shuffling near the vestibule where the bathrooms are located. The men's room door slammed violently. She approached and watched, but no one ever exited.

Terrana said no spooks have appeared since 2004. Dole used to have a wing that is gone today, and some speculate it burned down and the ghost is of a woman who died in that fire. However, Terrana said the Oak Park Historical Society has no record of such an occurrence.

Wednesday Journal

Some longtime staff members at the Journal have reported strange things while working into the wee hours. Reporter Terry Dean says he sometimes feels a presence late at night in the building. Former reporter Eric Linden once fell asleep on a coach while working late, and allegedly saw the ghost of a small girl standing over him. While working as production manager 18 years ago, Bill Dwyer said he once felt something brush against him while he worked late at night in the camera room and sensed an "unthreatening presence" in the room. The second floor of the Journal used to be a performing arts center for children. Legend has it that a girl was killed during a fire in the building.

Stage fright

The Little Theater at OPRF is said to be haunted by a man in a fedora and overcoat. Former students said they've seen him sitting or standing in the back row of the theater, according to a Journal article in October 1992. Razzle Dazzle Costumes, formerly on Lake Street, was said to be haunted by its former owner. Hephzibah Children's Association is said to be haunted by a disturbed child, according to author Ursula Bielski's Chicago Haunts. Cheney Mansion has also had haunting experiences, according to a Chicago Tribune article published Sunday, such as lights turning on by themselves and imprints of people having been in a bed that no one touched.

-Compiled by Marty Stempniak

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