I lived in quite a building my senior year of college. My friend Katie had lived in the building the previous year, and when a vacancy came up, I jumped at the chance to live there. It was built in the 1860s and had been located about 6 blocks away on Water Street. My building was a “house of ill repute,” which wasn’t that unusual in a lumber town such as Eau Claire. In an effort to clean up the street’s reputation a bit in the 1880s, the house was moved via rolling logs about 6 blocks away. A dance hall was built next door, which I’m sure provided a lot of entertainment and opportunites for the tenants of my building!
I am not sure as to when it was sold to the rental property from who I rented, but she said when they bought it, there was a heart-shaped bed in the penthouse! It consisted of 9 apartments on 3 floors, with 8 efficiency apartments and the top floor penthouse had 4 bedrooms. There was a winding staircase in the front hall that led to the second and third floors, and a chandelier hung from the ceiling in the main entryway.
Kate had lived there for a year before I moved in and had made friends with quite a few of the tenants. One of the first things Kate told me when I moved in was that the place was haunted. Being very curious, Katie and I went exploring all through the building in hopes of finding evidence of the building’s history and/or ghosts. There were hidden stairwells, sealed doors, tiny cupboards, and so many places to explore. The big pile of bed frames in the basement made us think, “If those frames could talk…”
I always felt that I wasn’t alone in my apartment. It wasn’t a scary or threatening feeling, but just the sense that I wasn’t the only one wandering around my tiny apartment. When things started to go missing, I knew I definitely wasn’t alone. My table knives kept on disappearing. Katie had a key to my apartment, and when I found myself with no knives one day, I asked if she had borrowed any. She said she hadn’t. I looked over my entire apartment many times and didn’t find a single knife. I was very frustrated and said “Okay, ghost. Return my knives.” The next morning I opened the silverware drawer and there were all my knives, right where they should have been in the first place. I later learned that a man was murdered in my apartment in the late 1980s. The police had to break down the door, as he had been in there for a few days in the hot summer heat and started to smell. That explained the large chunk of my door that had been nailed back into place…
Things would disappear now and then, I’d search, demand for them back, and they would appear, in their rightful place, a day or two later. Thankfully it was never anything major, like car keys, term paper, or a book I needed for class.
The only thing I ever witnessed during my year there was strange lights. I was sitting on my futon, watching tv and doing homework, and all of a sudden I was surrounded in these strange, bright lights. It was like there were a million illuminated glass shards, floating all around me. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me so I shut my eyes. Complete darkness. I opened them and the lights were still all around me. I shut my eyes again. Complete darkness. I opened them again. The lights were still around me. Then all of a sudden, they were gone. I had been sitting the entire time and it hadn’t been a case of standing up too quickly. The same thing happened a couple times, and when my friend Sarah, who had moved into to Katie’s apartment in December after Kate graduated, had the same thing happen to her, I knew it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks on me.
The most amazing story to come from that year I spent there came from Katie. She was in a larger apartment that was in the front of the building. Mine was much smaller and at the back, but I had a lovely view of the river. Kate’s bed was lofted and overlooked the living area. One night she woke up and heard what she said sounded like a music box. She didn’t think much of it and went back to sleep. The next night she woke up to the same music and turned over to look down to the rest of her apartment. In the middle of the living area, she saw a woman in a long blue dress who was, what Kate described, cranking “one of those old fashioned record players.” I said, “You mean a Victrola.” She said, “Yeah, but it sounded like a music box, not a record player.” My response was, “But that’s what the early ones sounded like.” Kate said that she got scared, turned her face to the wall, the music stopped, she turned back around, and the woman was gone. It took Kate a long time to get up the courage to tell me because she had been so freaked out about the experience.
Chad Lewis, a paranormal researcherÂ based in Eau Claire, came to my local library and talked about ghosts a few years ago. Afterward I went up and asked if he had heard any stories about 113 Ann Street, and he said, “Yes, I always get a few emails every year from tenants who live there.”
I went to Eau Claire last Saturday and drove by the old apartment, as I do every time I’m in town. It was no longer there. The area was going to be where the jail expansion was going to take place but never happened. The city had bought many of the buildings, which sat for a couple years, fell into disrepair, and were torn down. I was so very sad to see an empty spot where I spent my senior year of college, which was by far my favorite. I am very thankful to be able to have been part of that building’s long history.
Rest in peace, 113 Ann Street.