In keeping with Minnesota’s friendly reputation, most of the state’s ghosts are pleasant enough, but there are exceptions. These haunted places have strange histories, from a local soap factory to a bus station turned nightclub.
1. Soap Factory
This former soap factory in Minneapolis is now an experimental art venue. There are no known legends of suicides or murders at the spot, but it did once hold thousands of dead animal carcasses (used for making soap in the 19th Century.) Local artists and performers have a long-running and much beloved horror show in the basement, though they are in temporary quarters during a renovation.
2. Ramsey County Courthouse
This art-deco government building doesn’t exactly look like a gothic horror house, but late-night cleaning crews report strange laughter coming from empty rooms and glimpses of ghosts wearing 1930s clothing. A ghostly shoeshine man is reportedly spotted in the lobby of the St. Paul building frequently.
Most of the ghosts are said to be pretty benign, with the exception of a man hanging from a noose. Nobody has been executed in Minnesota since William Williams was hanged in 1906. That was before the courthouse was built, but he is considered the likeliest candidate for the ghost.
3. The Palmer House Hotel
This Sauk Centre hotel has attracted many ghost hunters and paranormal investigators over the years. The most commonly reported sighting is of a woman in a red turban and a flowing scarf. There are also reports of temperature drops and the sound of ghostly children playing. Room 11 is said to be the most haunted room in the hotel, in case you’re interested.
4. The Fitzgerald Theater
Home to A Prairie Home Companion for many years, the 1910 building boasts the ghost of a former stagehand called “Ben.” Ben is said to move the tools of the current theater workers. He’s considered to be generally harmless, but was once blamed for dropping a chunk of plaster from the ceiling high above, narrowly missing two workers. Weirdly, the ceiling is not made of plaster. How Ben got access to the material is still a mystery.
5. The Griggs Mansion
This is the kind of mansion where ghosts feel right at home – dark woodwork, high ceilings and general gloominess. A maid said to have hanged herself after a romance gone wrong in 1915 has been seen near the staircase. The late gardener is also said to appear by the library.
Even though the mansion is beautiful, and a good investment, it changed hands frequently in the mid 1900s. Many speculate that each new owner saw just a bit too much of the rampant paranormal activity and got spooked.
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Today, visitors report the usual doors opening and closing by themselves and ghostly footsteps on the stairs. In 1969, the St. Paul Pioneer Press sent three reporters to spend the night in the haunted house. They left in the early hours of the morning after spending a frightening night.
6. Forepaugh’s Restaurant
The resident ghost in this former Victorian mansion is named Molly. She is said to be friendly, though her story is sad. The house’s original owner, Joseph Forepaugh, was carrying on an affair with Molly, who was a maid. He ended the affair when his wife found out, but Molly was already pregnant. Despondent, she hanged herself by jumping out of a window with a noose around her neck. The house is a restaurant today and diners occasionally get a glimpse of Molly. She is said to particularly enjoy haunting new brides, something she never got to be.
7. First Avenue Nightclub
Prince shot his movie Purple Rain here, and dozens of major acts have played this club over the decades. The building started out as a sleek art-deco Greyhound Bus Terminal. The ghost is said to be a young woman who hanged herself in one of the bathroom stalls. Some patrons and staff say they have opened the stall door to the grisly scene.
8. Grey Cloud Island
Grey Cloud Island has a history going back centuries before the arrival of Europeans. It has one of the highest concentrations of ancient Indian mounds in the country. There are not many houses on the island, but there is a 19th century cemetery. That is where most of the paranormal activity seems to happen. One of the most common sightings is a green lantern, sometimes carried by what appears to be an Indian chief. People have also reported hearing beating drums.
Photos (in order): Soap Factory; Ramsey County Minnesota / Flickr; Wikimedia Commons; Griggs Mansion; Kristin / Flickr; Teemu008 / Flickr; Wikipedia; Wikimedia Commons