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Image in House Photo Stirs Spirited Debate


by: Ruth Mullen

Forwarded by: Anne (


Some see girl's ghost, others an optical illusion in shot of 19th century home moved last week.



Tuesday, May 6, 1997


Page: D01

Article ID No. 1997126148


Some see girl's ghost, others an optical illusion in shot of 19th century home moved last week.


The first time Linda Turner spotted the eerie image, she dug out her magnifying glass for a closer look.


Mary Louise Sirk's office buzzed with speculation after she passed around a copy of the newspaper at work.


And Thelma Everton was so spooked she called The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News several times in search of an explanation.


"It's got to be a ghost, it's got to be," said Everton, 54. "She's got her hands right up on the windowsill. I've looked at it about a hundred times and it's as plain as can be."


Everton was among dozens of readers who contacted the newspapers about a photograph of a 19th century farmhouse that was moved by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana last week.


Dozens of others called the foundation, fascinated by what appears to be the ghostly image of a little blond girl in a blue dress peering out the home's upstairs window.


Mounted on wheels, the 24-room Gothic revival farmhouse was moved April 29 from Mills and Mann roads to Southport Road and Mann on the Southwestside.


People who witnessed the house being moved have a more worldly explanation: Reflected sunlight, curtains and the room's blue walls produced an illusion.


"I remember looking up in the window and it looked like there was a little girl there, but I pretty much dismissed it because I knew there wouldn't be," said photographer Mike Fender. "I just thought it was light or curtains or something like that."


And the men who helped move the house are certain the grainy image isn't that of a real child.


"It's impossible for anyone to have been in the house before we moved," said Michael Gibson, 30. "Both porches had been removed and the house was lifted up on moving beams close to eight feet off the ground."


But most callers, it seems, believe the shadowy figure in the window is the ghost of a little girl who once lived there.


"There's talk among the locals that the house is haunted," said Sirk, 34, community relations coordinator for Decatur Township Schools.


Rumors abound. Some say the child is the spirit of a little girl accidently killed by hunters while playing in woods near the house. Others say she fell from one of the second-story balconies and broke her neck. Still others make vague references to the old family cemetery not far from the home's secluded hilltop.


Nonetheless, there is no hard research to suggest a little girl died tragically in the house, said Amy Kotzbauer, senior program coordinator for Historic Landmarks.


In fact, Kotzbauer believes the childlike figure actually is a reflection through a torn screen.


"There's a big hole in the screen that's about the same size of what people think is her blue dress," she said.


But a local folklore expert says ghosts don't necessarily have to die in the places they choose to haunt.


"They're people who love a place so much that they really just don't want to leave," said Wanda Willis, 60, who teaches folklore for Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis' continuing education program. "If she is a spirit, she will stay with the place that she feels most comfortable."


Ghost or no ghost, Amy Cook still plans to buy the house from Historic Landmarks when it goes up for sale.


"Nothing bad ever happened in that house," said Cook, 26, who helped save the home from demolition. "Everybody always had wonderful things to say about it. If it is a spirit, then it's a really friendly spirit."



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