March 27, 2006

Ghosts Are Where You Find Them

By Dawn Schuett, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

Mar. 27--For 10 years, Chad Lewis has traveled the world to investigate and collect stories of places and buildings that seem to be haunted.

Those intrigued enough to do their own research don't have to go as far, Lewis said Sunday while speaking to more than 120 people at the Rochester Public Library.

"You can do it in your own backyard," said Lewis, co-author of "The Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations."

To prove his point, Lewis gave an abbreviated list of spooky spots around the state, with several of them in southeastern Minnesota.

The collection includes the Kahler Grand Hotel, where Lewis said people claim to have seen the ghost of Helen Vorhees Brach, heiress of the Brach candy-making family in Chicago. She had stayed at the Kahler in February 1977 while here for her Mayo Clinic appointments but after checking out of the hotel, she was never seen again. She was declared dead in 1984. Although police in Illinois had several confessions, no one was ever charged with her death.

Lewis said some people swear they've seen her ghost riding up and down the elevator at the Kahler.

"She seems to like the hotel because she doesn't want to leave," Lewis said.

At the Winona Family YMCA, staff and visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a former janitor at the facility. The spirit may have apparently loved his job so much, that he still does some of his work, Lewis said.

At the Anderson House, a historic inn in Wabasha, the ghosts of a woman who committed suicide in the 1800s and a gentleman with a top hat are said to roam the hallways, according to Lewis.

Although he's visited many sites where others say a paranormal presence exists, Lewis said he hasn't witnessed anything eerie.

"After 10 years, I'm left with more questions than answers," he said.

Some who heard Lewis talk said they believe the stories he's collected.

Naomi Green of Rochester, who previously worked at the Kahler, said she occasionally heard footsteps outside her office at 2:30 in the morning but never saw anyone when she checked the hallway.

Green also said she thinks her house is haunted a man who killed himself.

"I do believe in (ghosts) because I had that experience at the Kahler and at my house," Green said.

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