In 2006, I rented a teaching studio at the Dole Mansion - a historic site in Crystal Lake, Illinois that had been bought by a non-profit organization and is now called Lakeside Legacy Arts Park. It's a beautiful, sprawling mansion built in the 1800's with a very long and huge addition added on sometime in the early 1900's. The building was first a private residence for the Dole family, and then with the new addition it was used as many different things, including a country club and a seminary, and was then abandoned and scheduled for demolition until the arts foundation bought it. Now all kinds of artists and musicians use it as studio, gallery and performance space and it really is a magnificent place! Having such rich history, it naturally has some resident ghosts as well. People talk of a lady in white who appears in the upstairs window of the original mansion pulling aside the curtain and looking out the window at night. My friend's husband saw her one night as well.
I wasn't expecting I'd actually have many experiences myself, but in fact I had quite a few during my year and a half renting a studio there! All of the studios are in the addition, which was mainly used as a seminary, although I have no idea what else it may have been in the past. When I first moved in I renovated the entire space, and at night I would often hear whisperings and laughing when no one was around. Luckily it didn't sound sinister, but more like people having friendly conversation. So once I got used to it, it wasn't scary.
One night my friend (we'll call her Catherine) and I were the only two people left in the whole building. There were no cars in the parking lot and it was late at night. We were standing outside my studio door talking and getting ready to go home, when suddenly Catherine stopped talking and said, "Are you hearing that?" I listened to the conversation going on between two women down the hall (much clearer and physically present than the ones I heard coming from the walls at times) and I nonchalantly said, "Yeah..." Catherine said, "Aren't we the only ones here?" Realization dawned, and we both stared at each other with big eyes for a moment, and the conversation abruptly stopped in mid-sentence. We went down the hall to investigate, and the room we heard the voices coming from was empty. So was the entire hallway.
We stood in silence staring into the room for a few moments, and suddenly I sensed a curious presence. I wasn't afraid because I didn't sense any maliciousness in it... Just curiosity. But then I felt as if it started walking toward us, and at that precise moment Catherine abruptly turned with a shudder and said, "C'mon, let's go!" She started power walking down the hallway, and I followed close behind, although I still don't think they had any negative intent.
...I had many little experiences there, including a very scary experience of being completely alone in the building late at night during a violent thunderstorm, listening to the typical whispering and laughing coming from the walls that I had gotten used to, when the building was hit by lightning! I literally thought a bomb had gone off! Then the VERY VERY loud and ancient fire alarm system started blasting like crazy in the hallway, and the burglar alarm started going off too. I think I just about peed my pants in that moment! I ran right home after that!
The other occurrence that really stands out in my memory is one evening when I was teaching a voice student of mine and my stereo (which controls the sound for my digital piano) started flashing on and off and then one of the light bulbs from the ceiling fan exploded and shattered right over my student's head! THAT was quite an experience. My poor student was a bit shaken up after that.
Most of the spirits that I've encountered in that building seem rather happy or just plain curious about all us artists being there. There is only one negative presence that I sense, and it stays in its territory over on the original mansion side. If you go up to the second story (the second and third floors of the mansion side are still waiting to be renovated and are closed to most visitors) there is a very ominous feeling room with a very huge old wooden armoire in it. The armoire is big enough for three or four people to stand inside of it. I got this really foreboding feeling the first time I saw that armoire, and when I walked inside it with a friend one time, I went back into the corner of it and heard screaming in my ears! I couldn't make out any words but I got the general feeling like they were screaming at me to get out. Naturally, I did very quickly! I don't know if that experience is my imagination or not. But the others that happened on the studio side were definitely very real indeed.
Hauntings aside, I very much miss that studio today. I had lifted the energy in there and made it feel very cozy and wonderful in that room, and I wish I still lived in that area now so I could keep on teaching in that very old and intriguing building!.