Selling real estate is an adventure unto itself. Sellers and buyers are always full of surprises, but occasionally the homes hold a few on their own. In April 1989, I did not believe in ghosts. No real reason to. It wasn't logical. But unfortunately, this story is true.
That spring, I listed a beautiful 200 years old Italianate Mansion on six acres. The home was halfway through renovations when the owner gave me my first tour. We walked through the grand entryway separating the twin front parlors. The one on the left served as the living room. A beautiful antique grand piano nearly filled the music room in the right parlor.
A large formal dining room and just beyond, and a renovated gourmet kitchen and bath finished the first floor tour. We walked up the wide curved staircase in the center of the home, circling to the third floor tower. The tower was one room, surrounded by windows, where one could overlook the entire farm and surrounding countryside.
Heading down to the second floor, five of the bedrooms were in various stages of construction, that is, all but one. The sixth bedroom, painted a sunny yellow with white trim was left untouched. The owner explained that room couldn't be changed. If they tried to paint it, the new paint faded and the yellow walls greeted them again the next morning. The temperature in that one room was a constant seventy degrees no matter what season. It was the young son's room of the owners in the late 1800's and she said he was one of the ghosts in the house. When you walked in that room, you felt a presence. As if someone was there. It was a calm presence, but it felt as if eyes were on you. I wanted out of that room, but I don't believe in ghosts.
According to the owner, sightings had been seen of a young boy, a man, and two men while only her family was at home. While the workmen were there, tools disappeared all over the home, never to be seen again. Noises of something being dragged and footsteps coming from upstairs while the workmen were downstairs were reported. I, of course, totally discounted the stories because I don't believe in ghosts.
"Goodbye." I said to my new client. "It's been a most enjoyable afternoon." I left, excited about my unique historical listing and couldn't wait for my first open house in two weeks.
The day of the open house was beautiful, sixty degrees, and sunny. Tools were put away. The home gleamed. Visitors entered in the kitchen door where they sampled homemade donuts, mint iced tea and coffee while they waited for one of two agents to take them on a tour. The agent then let the prospective buyer out the front door and returned to the kitchen for the next visitor.
Towards the end of the three hour opening, I let a very nice woman out the front door where a cold breeze hit me when I closed the door. Turning to go back to the kitchen, I glanced to my right. Sitting at the piano in the music room was a young woman, dressed in a plain gray dress, her dark hair drawn back in a bun. Her large dark eyes held no light. She was sitting quietly, just looking down at the keys. No music was playing. The hair on the back of my neck rose with the goose bumps. Startled by seeing a visitor unattended, I went back to the kitchen to find the other agent.
"Why is there someone wandering around the house without you?"
"There is no one else here." The other agent answered.
"Well, maybe she came in the front door," I acquiesced. "In that case, there is a lady waiting for you in the music room."
The owner asked, "What does she look like?"
As I described her, the owner smiled. "You've just met Sally Ann."
"Who's that?" I asked with some apprehension.
The hair on the nape of my neck stood up and I broke out in goose bumps yet again as I raced back to the front rooms. The music room was empty. The living area also empty. I ran up the stairs. The bedrooms were empty. Only one place left, the tower. Taking the stairs two at a time, I reached the door. It squeaked as it slowly opened it. Empty. She was gone. Vanished. My heart pounding, I was shaking as I slowly descended the staircase and walked back to the kitchen. This was silly. I don't believe in ghosts.
Reaching the kitchen, I sat down and the owner pushed a cup of strong coffee in front of me. My hands were trembling and the hot liquid nearly spilled. The owner began to tell me the story of Sally Ann.
"Sally Ann, her husband, brother-in-law, and eight year old son were the original owners of the home. Sally Ann had an affair with her husband's brother and when he found out, the two men dueled in the hallway of the second floor. Both men died as a result of their wounds. Sally Ann's son died a year later of typhoid. Sally died at the young age of 30 of what was said to be a broken heart. She shows herself only to people she approves of as guests in her home. But she is a kind ghost and is treated as another member of the family. Every once in awhile we see her son with her. The two brothers are probably the ones responsible for the tools missing. Just haven't seen them."
I'm thinking - great, Sally likes me. But I don't believe in ghosts.
The owner continued her story. "I hired a seer to come evaluate the ghost situation. He identified all of the ghosts. The family is all buried at Lexington Cemetery. He told me to rent a metal detector and search around the fifth fence post from the front corner of the house. I would find Sally Ann's wedding ring. So I did. And two feet down, I found her wedding ring with her initials. It's in this drawer."
Walking to the sideboard, she opened a drawer and pulled out a small band with initials on the inside. My breath caught. The hairs on my arm stood up.
Some deep breathing helped, mind over matter, and calmer now, I had again convinced myself that Sally Ann or whatever it was, was merely a figment of my imagination. It was just an old ring. I don't believe in ghosts.
I had finished my coffee, and since the Open House was now over, the other agent and I prepared to leave. As we neared the front door, I felt a cool breeze. The goose bumps returned. The hair on the nape of my neck stood up. Chills went down my spine. Slowly I turned around. At the top of the stairs stood Sally Ann. She was smiling.
The owner had told me where the family was buried at the Cemetery and because I am annoyingly curious, I later went to visit. There they all were. The whole family. Just as she said. Still a cynic, I went to the historic archives to search for the stories. They were there. The seer's stories checked out. There was a picture of the widow. It was Sally Ann.