BLOOMINGTON — While watching her six-month-old son one afternoon more than three years ago, the owner of a two-story house on Lee Street in Bloomington noticed that something — or someone — had caught his attention.
“He looked up toward the doors of the foyer and his eyes followed it to the piano and we know there used to be a door there,” his mother said. “And then, whatever it was, just kind of disappeared. He looked at me as if to say ‘What happened?’ like I had an explanation. But I didn’t see anything. But, I know that he sure did.”
Some believe that he may have seen a spirit that sometimes haunts the Lee Street residence, which was one of four locations highlighted during the First Annual Haunted Tales in Haunted Homes of Bloomington-Normal on Sunday.
The home was built in 1855 and has seen many different residents over the years. Others have also said they feel the house may still have spirits remaining.
"There are things over the years that when you add them up, make you really wonder," said the woman's husband.
Stephanie Fisher, a spirit writer with Spirits of Bloomington, said that children often are more sensitive to the movements of spirits than adults might be.
“They haven’t been programmed to disregard things that seem out of the ordinary,” she said. “Adults have.”
The incident might have gone unnoticed to some, but the boy, now four, tells family members that he sometimes sees things that the others never do.
Similar stories were told at three other locations toured Sunday by more than 100 people. The names of the homeowners and addresses were kept confidential.
“My cousin was staying here and he was a freshman at Illinois State University and worked out a lot in the weight room,” the woman added. “One night while asleep in what we call the Blue Room, he woke up because he felt like someone was pulling the covers and poking him. He ran out of the room and into his mother’s bedroom.”
There are many homes in Bloomington-Normal with similar stories, said event organizer Deborah Senger, a spiritual medium and practitioner.
“Touring these homes and sharing stories is something that I have wanted to do for the past seven or eight years,” she said. “I am fascinated by the different styles of historic homes and the stories that people have to tell. You can tell others are too because the response has been great.”
She contacted David Hotz, president of the Old House Society and together, they helped initiate the event.
“Bloomington just oozes with so much real history,” Hotz said. “Every house has a story.”
Bloomington residents David and Lauren Poppie say their love of historic homes and an interest in ghost stories were why they wanted to attend.
“We went on a haunted walk a couple of years ago and we came across a house that had been redone and they let us take pictures in the courtyard,” she said. “When we looked at the pictures, we found had a picture of an orb (balls of light which sometimes show up in photographs, believed to be ghostly entities). It was the weirdest thing ever. So, we are fascinated by the stories.”
Fisher, who said she has a gift to be able to feel spirits, said such occurrences can happen anywhere.
“For instance, this house was a happy place with lots of parties and good times,” she said. “It's a house with a lot of love."
Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow.