The most interesting thing about my job in construction is meeting new people. The second most interesting thing is being able to see where they live. Most of the time the people are more exciting than where they live. A lot of homes that I go into now are auditioning for the cover of the Pottery Barn Spring Catalog, and I can attest the the first time you lay eyes on the paint color "Morning Fog" is more exciting than the 51st time.
Sometimes, maybe about once per month I would say, I get to see a really cool interesting home. A home with a story, history or character.
I've been in a home near Division and Dearborn in which the owner told me that it contained the first residential elevator in Chicago. It was now split up into 6 condos, and the elevator was enclosed in this large birdcage of an enclosure. I never fact checked, I just took the guys word for it.
I also was once in a condo building up near Indian Boundary Park on Chicago's North Side which housed a pool in the shape of Italy in the basement. Yeah, Italy.
I once was called up to give an estimate for some kitchen remodeling for a owner occupied condo on Lake Shore Drive. Very nice building, and based off a previous meeting with the owner, he was nice as well. According to his email address and suit, he was a lawyer. When I walked into the condo, I was greeted by a 7' pile of empty pizza boxes and garbage. It was a foot taller than me, and it was a foot lower than the 8' ceilings the unit had, so there is no doubt that this guy's garbage was piled that high.
It's safe to say that I've had my share of interesting home tours, but there is one that stands out. One that is a ghost story. A real. Life. Ghost Story.
The house is located in Chicago's Gold Coast, on the type of street that the horse and carriage operators frequent because of the mix of a wide street, beautiful landscaping and of course, the mega homes.
The owner is a prominent Chicagoan. She is an actress, and I would have to say that there is little doubt in my mind that you can't say that you haven't see her work. You may be wondering two things at this moment. 1. Who is this actress, and 2. Does she know about the ghost?
The answer to 1. is, I'm not telling. The answer to 2. is, Yes, she was with me when this happened.
This house was a historical beast. Wood paneling EVERYWHERE, stone flooring, grand staircases, even grander windows, and castle-like features. Awesome in-ground pool in the basement and other mansion-esque features applied. I was working on the 3rd floor when the owner (the actress) called me to check on something in the master bathroom. As I approached the bathroom, she asks me if my crew had dragged in leaves into the master bathroom, and I said, "No, I'm in socks and as are the other two guys". I walked into the bathroom and sure enough there were a pile of dried leaves on the ground. I looked up, I looked around, and sure enough there was no explanation to why the leaves would be there. That's when it happened. As the owner and I were looking at the bathroom wall in front of us trying to guess where these leaves had came from, we saw a wall sconce rotate clockwise on the wall. We both looked at each other, and she goes "Oh", and then quietly walked out of the room. I walked out right behind her, trying to figure out what I just saw. It was the creepiest, most supernatural thing that I have ever witnessed, and to prove it to my mind, there was another person in the room who saw the same thing.
We never talked about it, it was never brought up, and I only once in awhile think about it. I know I was creeped out at the moment, but not scared. Because of that, I would like to think it's a kind ghost that just wanted to say "Hi!"
It's been awhile since then, and in fact it's been awhile since the Italy pool and the wall of pizza boxes. That only means one thing - I'm due for a good one!
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