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The Dole Mansion


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!.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Trudy82, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Trudy82 (5 stories) (57 posts)
13 years ago (2011-08-23)
Kpklonghorn, I have sensed a male presence several times when I worked there. I "saw" him in my mind's eye as an oldish man, and he felt to me not angry or malicious but just stern or maybe grouchy. That's amazing that you saw him! Was it in the addition where the studios are or the mansion side?
kpklonghorn27 (1 posts)
13 years ago (2011-06-20)
All right I am 13 so you probably won't believe me but, just keep reading. Living in Crystal Lake I've been there quite a bit for Park district stuff or school art shows despite living less than a mile away I was a sceptic until my birth day two years ago on a dare from my friend I had to go all the way upstairs and wait for five minutes before I could come down. This changed my views on the paranormal forever I was waiting out my five minuets and I heard foot steps and looked down the hallway and saw an apparition appear look down the hallway and go into the room all the way down the hall and to the right. I looked like a man and I think It might have been Mr. Dole if any one else has possibly seen a male apparition please comment
JM1982 (1 posts)
14 years ago (2010-10-21)
My wife worked at the Dole about 5 years ago. She oversought most activities there at the time, she worked with all the tenants and maintainance crews. She wasn't there much at night, and I had her take me through 2 different times. Once in the nighttime for the christmas get together, and once during the day when the carnival was set up.
I never heard any voices on my tour, but maintanance workers assured me there was strange things on occasion. My wife took me all the way up the staircase to one of the turret/minaret thingys. It offered a neat view. On my descent back down I passed a small door off the staircase, looked like furniture. When I got back to the hallway I developed deep dull pain in both of my quads It lasted about 15 seconds, it was VERY odd, nothing I have ever felt before or since... I'm glad that my wife got a new job, because I didn't have a good feeling about being up there.
KimCan (1 stories) (19 posts)
15 years ago (2009-11-13)
It sounds like a great place, but I don't think I would have been as brave as you and stayed there by myself!

Next time I'm out that way I'll definitely have to drive by and see if we can spot the lady in the window. 😊
Trudy82 (5 stories) (57 posts)
15 years ago (2009-11-11)
Thank you Elliemay! Yes, the organization is in full swing and there are many artists who work and hold events there. I have several friends who still work and perform there, and I usually visit the building whenever I'm in town to see friends. My fiance also likes to go there because he loves haunted places and historic buildings and architecture. Hobbyholly, technically yes, I was a member of the Lakeside Legacy Arts Foundation because all the artists joined and attended meetings, although we didn't create policy or anything. It's a wonderful organization! It's not advertised to the public that it's haunted, but I'm sure that most people working there, if asked, would probably admit that it is.
hobbyholly (11 stories) (572 posts)
15 years ago (2009-11-11)
I live in Illinois and have family in Crystal Lake. Where you part of the Lakeside Legacy Arts? (I worked for a non-profit dance company in the city).

The place is still standing right?
xXelliemayXx (10 stories) (164 posts)
15 years ago (2009-11-11)
Your story is very interesting!
Is there anyway you could go back to visit the place?
Maybe take your friend with you?
I think it would be highly ineresting to go back there.
Thankyou for sharing your story with us it was most enjoyable 😁

xXelliemayXx ❤

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