Thursday, October 27, 2011

The McPike Mansion

By Audrey Treece

In lieu of Halloween, I thought I would share with all of you one of the pieces
of architecture that is housed in my hometown. It is one of the destinations
that make my hometown the most haunted small town in America.
Alton, Illinois is home to the McPike Mansion, along with several, and I mean several,
other places that are known for being haunted. I do not know if you believe in
paranormal activity or not, but read the brief history and check out the video
at the end, enjoy!
The McPike Mansion is a sixteen room Victorian mansion
located at 2018 Alby Street and was built for Henry Guest McPike and designed by
Lucas Phiffenberger in 1869. It is located on a fifteen acre site that is known
as Mount Lookout which is the highest point in Alton. It was extremely
elaborately designed inside and out.
Henry McPike was a descendant of two prominent men who fought in the Revolutionary War alongside George Washington at Valley Forge (Captain Mose Guest McPike and Captain James McPike). Henry, who was the son of James, moved with his family to Kentucky in 1795, but relocated to Alton, Illinois in 1847.He was a man of several different interests
and career paths. Three of his pursuits were manufacturing, real estate and
insurance; however, he demonstrated an interest in horticulture. He was a son of
an abolitionist and was very involved in politics as he served with the war
department as Deputy Provost of the region during the Civil War. He was later
elected for City Council, and then was Mayor from 1887-1891.
The McPike Mansion remained in the family until 1936 and several McPike’s still live in
Alton today. After 1936, the mansion became home to Browns Business College
until it was sold to Mr. Paul Laichinger who took ownership in 1908 until his
death in 1930. There are varying records on when exactly Paul Laichinger took
ownership because there is some confusion on the documentation. However, since
1936, there have been several different owners of the mansion. The
mansion has not been inhabited since the 1950s and has fallen victim to
weathering, vandalism and theft that have destroyed things such as the ornate
interior marble fireplaces and hand-carved stairway banisters. Today, the
mansion is owned by George and Sharyn Luedke who bought the mansion at an
auction in 1994. They are now in the slow and expensive process of attempting to
restore the home to its former splendor. The home is listed in the National
Register of Historic Places and the Luedke’s host tours and campfires to assist
in the cost of restoration.
The McPike Mansion has a history of paranormal occurrences, it is known for its hauntings.Numerous photos have been taken that add to its mystery. Balls of light go unexplained by professional photographers, human-shaped outlines appear in the windows, shadowy or glowing, and they were not seen by human eyes until photos were developed. There are several speculations on who and what the ghost could be; however, nothing has
ever been determined. Hopefully, you will catch a glimpse of Paul A.
Laichinger. He may be standing near a window in an upstairs room. Or perhaps,
you will be run into Sarah one of the domestic servants that can be seen on the
third floor. Paranormal activity does abound in the McPike Mansion and was noted
by one group, that during an exploration of the wine cellar, heard the footsteps
of someone coming down the stairs and walking across the floor and then the door
to the wine cellar closed without a person around. This occurrence plus others
have been noted by psychics and ghost hunters who out of curiosity wish to
visit. The Luedke’s have admitted that they too have seen ghosts while working
on the house.
If you want to learn more about the haunted mansion visit or book a Haunted Alton Ghost Tour at (I will advise you to book as soon as the dates are
released, the tour sells out within hours of open sales).
Don’t believe? Check out this video from Bi State Paranormals. This clip was also featured on
the Discovery Channel's, Ghost Lab TV show.

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