THE GRIGGS MANSION
The Griggs Mansion in St. Paul is currently a private residence and a home that has changed owners many times since it was built. It is also knomn as the city's, and perhaps Minnesota's most notoriously haunted house. The house was built in 1883 by Chauncey W. Griggs, a wholesale grocery tycoon. The house was ominous from the start, with its high ceilings, 24 cavernous rooms and dark and gloomy woodwork and decor. Griggs only lived in the house for four years until moving to the west coast and establishing lumber and transportation companies. Since then, the house has been used as a private residence snd an apartment house, once even housing a school of art. Over the years, a family would move in and spend thousands of dollars on new furnishings and renovations and then leave the house within a year or two with no explanation. The tales of the haunting date back to the early years of the house. In 1915, a young maid, upset over a failed affair, hanged herself near the fourth-floor landing. Since her death, her presence has often been encountered, along with other spirits. One ghost is that of Charles Wade, the former gardener and caretaker of the house. He has been seen in the library of the mansion. Those who have lived in the house report strange and unsettling occurrences. Footsteps march up and down empty staircases. Doors open and close by themselves. Voices come from otherwise empty rooms. Light bulbs shatter, lights turn off and on by their own power and objects have been knomn to move with no one touching them....right in front of reliable witnesses.
In 1939, the house was donated to the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art and it became the longest occupant of the mansion. A skylight was installed on an upper floor and painting classes were offered to the public. Teachers and students all complained of feeling uncomfortable in the building hoovever, saying they felt as if someone were watching them.
In the early 1950's, Dr. Delmar Rolb, a military intelligence officer during World War II joined the staff at the school and moved into a front basement apartment of the mansion. He had his own encounters with the unexplained, reporting strange occurrences and the apparition of a tall thin man who appeared in his room. He left St. Paul in 1959 and two college students moved into his apartment. One of them awoke in the night and saw a child's figure floating sbove his bed.... he had no way of knowing about Dr. Rolb's similar experiences.
The school stayed in the mansion for 25 years but when the new Arts and Sciences Center opened in the city, the mansion was put up for sale. The house ovas purchased by Carl L. Weschke in 1964. He was a publisher of occult books and the founder of Llewelyn Publishing, wich publishes Fate Magazine. He bought the house to use as his office and home.
Weschke order massive renovations to the house and often stopped by to check on progress on his way home each evening. One day he found a window open on the upper floor and closed it. The next day it was open and he again closed it. The workmen all swore that they had not opened it and finally after repeating the same procedure for several days, Wencher nailed it shut. On his next visit, it was open!
The workmen in the house claimed their own encounters with odd noises and shadowy figures and after Weschke moved in, the occurrences continued. He heard odd noises at night, footsteps going up and downs the hallways and doors slamming shut. He told one interviewer that he simply sensed a restless presence in the house.
In February of 1969, reporters from the St. Paul Pioneer Press arranged to spend the night in the house to gather material about some articles on ghosts and haunted places. The three reporters arrived with great skepticism but they left as believers after a long night of unexplained footsteps and terrifying impressions of unseen presences. They finally left by the back door in the early morning hours, agreeing that they did not want to spend another minute in the mansion.
For well over a century, strange events have ruled at the Griggs Mansion. Are the spirits here trapped in the place because of past tragic events? The house still changes hands on a regular basis and many of the recent owners have been reluctant to discuss anything to do with ghosts. Has the haunting stopped at the Griggs Mansion? Or is the explanation a simpler one... perhaps the ghosts still remain, but the owners are just tired of all of the publicity that the place has gotten?
The Griggs Mansion is a private residence at 476 Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Visitors
and ghost hunters are not welcome.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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