The first story I'd like to share (I have many) is about what I believe to be a residual haunting I experienced.
This story is about a public library in the town I grew up in Pennsylvania. I wasn't sure if I should change the ghost name, but for this story, we'll call her, Anastasia.
The library was originally a beautiful Victorian home. It was bequeathed to the city upon the owners death because there were no heirs and a few years later it was utilized as a park and library. In the legalities of the grant, it was specified to not cut down the trees because they were well loved by Anastasia.
The grounds of the park were several acres of serenity. It was shaded, with countless elm trees. There was a playground, a tennis court, basketball court and grassy area for picnics.
The house on the land was a three story Victorian white building. The interior had gorgeous marble fireplaces in every room and a grand staircase in the center. Dark mahogany woodwork. There were two front parlor rooms, an entryway, a hallway leading to the staircase in the center and one back room as well. There was also a restroom area in the rear. I'm not sure if the restroom was originally there, my guess it was added on to make it functional but who knows. I'm not sure if there was a basement. Could have been, but it was blocked off to patrons. The staircase led to the upstairs where I later learned there were four rooms.
When I went to this library as a child, the grand winding staircase was blocked off with one of those red velvet rope chains they use in movie theaters hooked on both ends. Initially, it was unused. The librarian just said it was storage up there and it needed repairs. But then a few years later, it was rented out as an apartment upstairs. I remember a few college students lived up there and once a young family with small children. No one stayed long. Then eventually it was used as the children's department in recent years.
I moved away from this town. I grew up. Got married and had kids. When I came back to this town to live for a few months, this library was on my list to take my own children. I was elated to know it was still operating and curious to learn that the upstairs was now open to the public and the children's department. I wanted to see it. I spent so many days when I was young looking up the stairs and wondering what was up there. So, I did take my kids there. Headed for the upstairs. It was pretty much like the downstairs. Ornate woodwork. Marble fireplaces. Hard wood flooring and those giant old radiators. Stained glass windows on the staircase. Nothing unusual but a really nice children's play area and small tables and books.
There is a third floor which is now the storage area and closed off to patrons.
But, this story begins in the 1970s when I spent many afternoons discovering my love of reading. I read every single book in that children's section several times over. At this time, I was about 8 years old or so. I pretty much went every Saturday. One Saturday, I asked my mom to take me there. She thought it might be closed today. It must have been a holiday. We pulled into the parking lot and my mom went to check the doors to see if they were open or closed. I waited near the car. I looked up in the window which sat about six feet off the ground, where the children's books were kept at this time. The front right parlor. As I was looking at the window, I saw a woman looking at me. Now when I say looking at me, she might have been looking just past me, it was like she saw me, but didn't. She smiled when she saw me. She had a very pleasant smile. She just looked content and peaceful. Warm and inviting. She was middle aged. Pretty. Rather stout. Her hair was pulled back in a bun. It was dark hair. She had on a dark colored dress too. I smiled back and waved. I was happy to see her because that meant the library was open and I was going to get my favorite reads. She looked familiar to me and I had been seeing this lady before and knew her to be a librarian. She was in the library and visible to me on other occasions and I accepted her as a real person in the library.
My mom came back to the car and said, "the doors were locked library is closed today no one is here". "No", I said that was impossible because I saw a lady, the librarian, in the window. My mom went and rechecked the doors. Still locked. I was sure someone was in there. I didn't see the lady in the window anymore but was confused. I knew someone was in there. "No", my mom said, "no one there. If you saw a lady in the window then you saw a ghost because no one is in there". After she said that she seemed kind of scared. She scared herself and wanted to bolt out of there. I didn't understand why she was afraid because I wasn't at all. A ghost? I looked at her like she was crazy. I never would have questioned the lady I saw in the window as not real. I never considered ghosts to be real. But I knew I saw that lady, and she was real.
The lady I saw in the window I later learned was the last surviving family member of the owners. Her name was Anastasia. There are portraits of her hung to this day in several rooms in the library.
Unbeknownst to me, around this time, sightings of her looking out the windows had started to pick up. Rumors circulated in the town because she was beginning to be seen frequently. Windows she was most seen in were the downstairs children's section at that time and the room she died in the window upstairs. It was supposed that there was a connection between her sightings and the gradual death of the elm trees in the park. Apparently, she loved her elm trees. The whole park was covered in them. They were huge and ancient and had beautiful coverage over the park. Daily, Anastasia would gaze out on her trees until she died. The elms were victims of a tree fungus in the 70s and eventually by the late 80s and early 90s several had to be cut down. When this occurred, sightings of Anastasia intensified. But I didn't know any of this. All I knew was I saw her in the window.
Like Anastasia, I also loved those trees, and they were part of the reason why I loved that park. Elm trees produce those little seeds that fall and crack open and inside are those brown circles we called buckeyes as kids. Many many hours of my childhood were spent collecting buckeyes and putting them in my pockets to take home. Honestly, I did this for hours as did many of my friends. We compared our buckeye collections and made fairy food and squirrel soup with them. The whole town actually had a lot of Elms, but the largest and best were at the park. I loved to go read at the library but I also loved the park. Every time I left the park, I literally hugged my favorite trees before I left because I loved them so much as a child. I realize this seems laughable now being the proverbial tree hugger but it just seemed natural to do then. It was my way to say goodbye. I wonder if Anastasia felt my love for these beauties of God's creation on some level?
Sometimes my friends and I would walk to this park by ourselves. We all were around 9 then. They had community arts and crafts in the summer time in the little pavilions at the park run by the high school. So from breakfast to lunchtime we hung out there. In the upstairs windows, especially in the one room where they say she died, we often saw her looking out at us, smiling. It wasn't just a shadow or something that looked like her, it was clearly a solid body and distinctly Anastasia's face witnessed by many of us kids several times. I don't ever remember any of us kids being scared. I also remember it happening on a fall day when we had rode our bikes there. I remember a light rain starting and a dark cloud blowing in. One of the boys I was with shouted, "look, there she is" and there she was indeed looking at us. It was just a normal thing for us kids to see Anastasia smiling in the windows. Once my parents were driving past the library and I pointed out to them from the back seat that Anastasia was in the window but my parents never saw her and said it was shadows. This happened on two occasions when I was in the car with my parents. The second time, I didn't say anything to them, I just watched her watching me. My parents didn't notice a thing.
Once, my older teenage brother walked me to the library to get books. We were standing near the staircase and we both saw as plain as day a beautiful woman walk past us in a dress from the 1900s. It was pale rose color and silky. It was quite ornate and looked very fancy. She walked past us and right up the stairs, taking each stair one at a time. I noticed the woman but it looked so solid so real, that it didn't register in my head as ghost. My brother started yelling "l just saw a ghost"! I looked at him like, "what"? I looked again and she just vanished as she got to the top of the stairs. A few other patrons came running and the librarian to see what the problem was as my brother was screaming. I remember a few other people there upset as well. All of a sudden she was there again at the top of the stairs, reappearing for us, walking from one side to the other, she turned and looked at us all and walked down the first two steps before vanishing into thin air. I remember a lot of people gasping and one lady almost fainting, but I didn't feel any sense of fear at all. I thought, at the time, everyone was overreacting. My brother hurried me and took me home.
Again, when I was there, I was near the staircase, the young family renting the upstairs came running down the stairs screaming "Ghost Ghost... I just saw a ghost!" The young man was holding a baby about a year old and the wife was crying holding another small child. They ran like someone put a rocket under them and screamed "We can't live here anymore. Enough is enough!" The librarian at the bottom of them stairs understood and tried to calm them down working out the details of breaking their lease. I again saw Anastasia coming down the stairs and vanishing after a few steps.
Eventually, I stopped seeing her. But gradually the incidents changed from sightings to paranormal activity. As a teenager, in the front room, I was looking at books and remember books falling off the shelf near me. Once the librarian yelled at me for throwing a book, when I told her I didn't she got all quiet and scared and said, " I guess it was that ghost again". It would be common for me to hear other patrons yelling " Help, it's a ghost!", whenever I was there. "Or I think I heard a noise, footsteps!"
To this day the activity has continued. People have had different experiences there. From what I've heard it's been more of things like lights going on and off, fans turing on in the children's area, and books falling. Less of the actual sightings I experienced.
In recent years I had a dream of her... I dreamed I was in the library bathroom and the lights went out. Other women inside the bathroom were screaming because they were scared. They ran out. But, I knew where the light switch was and turned it on. After I turned it on, it turned itself back off leaving me in darkness... In the dream I got an evil sensation of darkness and a feeling that Anastasia wasn't there anymore but something else.
Around 2012 or so I learned they have had ghost hunts at the library and psychics. In their terms, they have been successful in contact. This in no way means to be disrespectful and my own personal opinion, but I wonder if these efforts to contact Anastasia should have occurred. My overall sense is that Anastasia is just there in residual form because she loved her home and her elms. Her energy just repeats the actions most familiar with her; looking out her windows and going up and down the stairs. Other means of contacting her through psychics and seances may be stirring up something that should be left alone.
The Anastasia that I knew as a child was kind and seemed to love children, her home and trees. She was not scary in any way. But she had the warmest kindest smile. I would hate to think that someone would use her for their own curiousness.
When I did bring my own children to see the "haunted library", I didn't seem to feel Anastasia there anymore. Supposedly, to this day, she is most active in the children's department upstairs. So, I wanted to see if she was there. It was weird to walk up the steps I saw Anastasia walking up and down. It was weird to finally be allowed into her upstairs space.
It was larger than I envisioned upstairs. But the toddler room was cozy. The meeting room where story time was held was the only room I just didn't like. That had been her bedroom. I didn't see anything amiss. In the toddler room, there were a few kiddie chairs tilted back placed on their heels so to speak. I thought it was weird for kiddie chairs to be balanced like that, but I couldn't rule out maybe a child had been playing with them and propped them somehow like that. We checked out some books and went to go play outside under the last few elms. I showed my little ones how to collect buckeyes. We had a really nice day there. The second time I went there to return the books, the kiddie chairs were upside down. But again, could have been kids. While my kids were reading, I wandered off to what was Anastasia's bedroom. I took time to look out the windows and stood where Anastasia would have stood, I stared out the windows I saw her staring at me as a child. I looked at what was left standing of her elms. I closed my eyes and said Goodbye to Amanda and wished her well wherever she was. Rest in peace, Anastasia.