COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
|This house was originally constructed as a private residence but after serving as a female orphanage for many years, it is now home to the Frederick County Historical Society and, if the stories are true..... the ghost of a woman in white.|
Located on Church Street in historic Frederick, Maryland is the former home of Dr. William Baltzell, which now serves Frederick County as the home of the Historical Society. The house was built in 1834 with a number of grand and unusual features. It has a hanging staircase that floats all of the way to the roof as its main attraction.
In 1854, the house was purchased by Colonel Alexander Baird Hanson and 20 years later he sold it to John Loats, the last private owner of the house. At the time of Loats' death, he willed the house to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and they in turned used it as an orphanage. The house existed as the Loats Female Orphanage from 1879 to 1958. It was purchased by the Historical Society shortly after it closed down.
Apparently, the orphanage was not the sort of place that you would expect from films and popular fiction. According to diaries and letters that remain today, it was actually a happy place. The girls were allowed to stay until they turned 18 and there was a dedicated staff to watch over them. There was a teacher on staff, named Lizzie Kreh, a seamstress, a cook, a headmistress and a singing instructor.
Could any of these women be the ghost who is said to haunt the place?
According to historical society volunteers, they have had a number of encounters with a woman who has been seen wearing a white dress. She is described as being very pale, with her hair pulled up into a bun on her head. She is dressed all in white and her old-fashioned clothing is seen as high-collared and long-sleeved. She has been seen in the corridors and sitting in an old antique rocking chair.
They also claim that old trunks have been found moved to other places in the house and that music has been heard coming from a broken Grafanola. The machine, if it even worked, has to be cranked up by hand and there has been no one around when it started to play music on its own.
The identity of the ghost remains a mystery, but everyone seems happy to have her around. I visited Frederick in the early part of 1998 and soon found that most every respectable old building in Frederick has at least one good ghost story or two to tell.
The Historical Society is located at 24 Church Street in Frederick, Maryland.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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