Top 4 haunted Chicagoland places to get you prepped for Halloween

"Whoever I was disturbing was watching me intently"

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Top 4 haunted Chicagoland places to get you prepped for Halloween

Hannah Davis

Hannah Davis

Hannah Davis

Hannah Davis, Photo Editor

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Woodstock Opera House

Woodstock is one of those cute small towns where everyone knows everyone. About an hour North-West of Chicago, this is a community that believes in the importance of preservation. Their own town square is still laden with cobblestones and surrounded by buildings that first made their appearance in the 1800s – one of which being the infamous Woodstock Opera House.

As the story goes, there used to be a citizen named Elvira who lived for the stage. She had her sights set on a future in the acting industry and would jump at any chance she got to be onstage, so when auditions for a local production opened up, she of course tried out for the part. When the casting list finally came out, and Elvira found that she had not made the cut, she was devastated and chose to throw herself off of the top balcony of the theatre, ultimately killing herself. Since that time, throughout the years there have been many reports of the actress making an appearance on stage, scoffing at whatever production was being showed at the time, and even ‘sitting’ in her favorite seat 113 as the spring-loaded chair has been reported to lower on its own.

Gaining access to this location was very easy, I simply had to ask the front desk if I could peek into the theatre, and the person on duty gladly obliged. Upon opening the door to the theatre, I experienced an unshakable feeling that I was intruding, and that whoever I was disturbing was watching me intently. The air felt incredibly tense, and stuffy and seemed to act as a means to ward people off. Now this building is incredibly old, and maybe creepiness is part of the package that comes with a building like this, but the whole theatre seemed amped up on its creepiness factor. I’m still not sure if this building is actually haunted or not, but perhaps another visit is in order to determine this.

 

Graceland Cemetery

Graceland Cemetery is located in Evanston Illinois, right along Lake Shore Drive. This neighborhood is the epitome of your classic yuppy, white suburban area, which doesn’t really aid in convincing me that they have a haunted cemetery in their midst. The cemetery was first erected in 1860, so, as one could imagine, there are quite a few dead people lying around.

The cemetery is a public place and, unbeknownst to me, a total tourist hotspot, but what can you expect when you have people like Ernie Banks and Marshall Field laid to rest there. The entire location is an incredibly peaceful place to experience, unlike my initial gut reaction following the opera house. But that may have been because of the clement weather.  

There are two main legends about Graceland, one involving Dexter Graves, and the other surrounding the story of Inez Clarke. Graves doesn’t have much to his name, except for the ominous statue which stands in front of his grave. Titled “Eternal Silence”, if one stands in front of the statue and gazes into its eyes, you’re supposed to be able to see your death. When I tried it, all I saw were a pair of bronze eyes, though if someone sees a bronze statue following me around, kindly let me know. Inez Clarke has a bit more of a story behind her death. Apparently when she died around the age of eight when she was struck by lightning at a family picnic. At her gravesite there is a life-sized statue of the girl, where people will occasionally leave toys. Now, whenever it storms or rains, her statue is said to disappear. Other reports state that they hear the sounds of children playing when they are near the statue. When I went, I felt no uneasiness at all, and was able to pay my respects to the girl’s statue. I experienced no sort of haunted occurrences while there, so my vote is that the previous reports made stem from nothing but local lore.  

 

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

Bachelor’s Grove is a cemetery which is now located in the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve in a town called Midlothian. Seeing as that it is no longer in use, the forest preserve maintains it, in order to preserve the cemetery which was first established in the early 1800s. Many of the tombstones have been defaced either by a combination of time and weather, or by those who hope to disrespect the people who were put to rest at that location. This was probably the most difficult location to reach, only because there are no clear instructions for how to get there – it is literally tucked away along a service road, while still being open to the public.  

When I came upon this place, the sun was setting, which set the mood for a classic haunted feeling. Bachelor’s Grove is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the entire midwest, so I had high hopes that I might be able to experience something here. When I arrived there were already a few other people present, and even whole families – which was no surprise when you consider how famous this place is in the ghost hunter community. There are a variety of different spirits that have been reported, some of the most popular include a woman who wanders around carrying her infant child, a young boy who has lost a coin, as well as multitudes of orb sightings (orbs are said to be the essence of a spirit).  

While there, I never experienced that same gut feeling which I felt when I stepped into the opera house, but the area also did not have that same peaceful aura which Graceland held. It was somewhere in-between, like an energy or buzz that blanketed the location. While I never experienced anything outright, to me this place has the potential for ghostly activity. I got the feeling that maybe the spirits who 

dwell there were just waiting for me to leave.

 

Meadowbrook Manor
In its current state, Meadowbrook Manor is a home for the retired folks of La Grange Illinois, but before that it went by another name: the Illinois Masonic Orphanage. This building was first built in 1901, and carries that foreboding, brick-style architecture of the ti

me. As of late, the current nursing home is undergoing massive renovations which will ultimately gut the building of most of its original structure.  

While the modern era slowly takes over this historic building, one of our editors managed to slip inside and visit some of the last remaining remnants of the orphanage – the attic. The attic used to be a stage for performances that the children would put on, to entertain themselves. Seeing as that it is the only historically accurate part of the building that remains, it’s no wonder that some claim spirits of days gone by dwell there still.

 

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