Old Copley use to be City Hospital back in 1886, and boasted 25 beds. Of course, by the time they closed in 1996 to move to a much larger facility, it had grown considerably, almost swallowing up the original Queen Anne 3 story structure. Despite the original part being declared a historic site, they (the city) are pushing to demolish it. I can't say I blame them, it's been neglected for a long time.
It sits just a few blocks from where I now live, and I walk past it often. Of course it's rumored to be haunted. I feel a sentimental attachment to it; both my children were born there. I always pause walking past it, sometimes walking up to it. I feel bad, I guess, for it. All those years of service, all that history and all it's getting is a wrecking ball at some point.
There's been a few 'paranormal teams' (at least that's their claim. I don't know how legitimate they were) and multiple urban explorers who've trespassed into Old Copley claiming to have experienced things; voices, apparitions, a doll that moved on its own and such. They may have.
Once, right around dusk, I had a fairly bad scare, standing in front of the large doors, looking in - I could see someone approaching the door. I stood still, wondering if it would materialize into a clearer image or if someone was trespassing. The glass was dirty, and it wasn't very clear. The image appeared to be reaching out to me - a heavy hand on my shoulder - I whirled about almost loosing it, before I realized it was a cop. It took almost two seconds for me to grasp what I had really seen was his reflection in the glass approaching me from behind, and not someone coming towards me. I felt relieved and stupid all at once. Of course he wanted to know what I was up to. No trespassing signs all over the place. I told the simple truth - just stopping for a memory. He must have found it funny to almost give me a heart attack, because he was struggling to contain a chuckle. That and I'm about as intimidating/threatening as Shirley Temple.
I'm not saying the old hospital isn't haunted, because I think it is. However, it's been so long before their doors ever closed.
Back in 1981, I was there to have my first child. I ended up having an emergency c-section. After the effects of the anesthetics had worn off, I was sitting up in my bed, debating on calling the night nurse. I was incredibly thirsty, but I paused because I knew it was late; the maternity floor was very quiet, signaling way past visiting hours and most were sleeping. Since my older sisters are retired nurses, I've a healthy respect for the profession. Did I really want to disturb them for something so mundane? Someone should be making rounds soon, maybe I could wait until then.
Right about then, a nun came into my room. Even though there's a Catholic Church, literally on the corner from the hospital, I was a bit surprised that she still wore the full Nun's habit, complete with wimple and floor length robes, a heavy rosary hung at her waist. "Hi, Sister," I croaked. She smiled at me, and silently poured me a glass of water from the pitcher on the night stand. (Why can they never put it within reach?) I drank it, thankfully. The nun took the empty glass, and asked, "Better?" I said something, like, "Much. Thanks,"as I laid back on the bed. I was wondering if it was the lighting or imagination, that she seemed to glow a tiny bit. At any rate her presence was comforting. She smiled again, and left, I assumed to look in on others.
The next day, a couple of Sisters dropped by. I swear they meander the halls and if you're alone they stop.Besides, maternity is about the only 'happy' floor in a hospital. They were dressed in the 'modern' outfits. More of knee length dove grey jumper, and a simple veil as a head covering. Being the curious sort, I asked about the nun's dress from before. Which got me quizzical looks, and told no one in their order wore that sort of habit any more, perhaps she was visiting from another city or was from another order.
Flash forwards 5 years,1986, second child, second c-section. The night nurse is an absolute doll. I think her name was Karen, not that it really matters, but she use to bring me coffee 'after hours' from the nurse's lounge, and in slow times visit with me, chattering about this and that. We shared some good talks at odd hours if I was awake and she'd time. When she was on duty, I never worried about being an 'inconvenience', she'd pop in saying, "I thought you'd NEVER ring", and we'd both laugh like we shared the greatest joke ever told. Sometimes, we'd stroll the halls together. Me, hunched over like I'm 90 and pulling along the IV stand, and her ambling by my side.
It was on one of these strolls I saw the nun again. She was coming from the 'quiet ward' as we referred to it. The area women who didn't have happy deliveries finished their stays in. Away from the babies, and new moms. Karen and I always turned down another corridor before we reached those doors. It was just too sad. I opened my mouth to greet the nun, but then shut it, because her head was down and she looked to be in silent prayer. I paused as she passed, and Karen's grip on my elbow tightened almost painfully, causing me to jerk my head towards her, away from the Nun. "Did you see that?" Karen's voice was barely a whisper.
"What? The nun?" I was confused. Nun's were nothing to be afraid of, yet Karen was clearly scared. She nodded 'yes' and we both turned our heads in the Nun's direction. Nothing. Just other nurses and orderlies. Not a habit wearing soul in sight.
Back in my room, over cups of the strongest coffee Karen could find, she informed me we had just seen Sister Augustus, or rather the ghost of her.
Long ago there had been a horrible train wreck, when a passenger train ran an open switch and collided with carboys of acid. The accident occurred in the yards, one mile from the depot. Seven boys were playing on a car when the train, running at full speed, swung onto the siding. With no chance to escape, two died, while the others were more or less burned.
Sister Augustus was one of the first to reach the victims and start first aid. She rode with the injured to the hospital, and despite having suffered some burns herself, demanded to help look after them. She refused to rest or to be treated until after they were cared for.
The story goes that infection set in and the good nun died from it. But ever after, there were those who claimed the nun had cared for them in some way.