Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wyoming's Most Haunted Church

Prior to 1868, many church services in Cheyenne were held at either private residences, or in local school houses.  However, due to increasing population and demand, Joseph W. Cook began construction of the St.  Mark's Episcopal Church.

What started as a temporary clapboard structure soon turned into plans for a large gothic cathedral, based on churches in England...and funded by an increasingly wealthy congregration of cattle barons and railroad men.  By 1886, the foundation for the present church was started.  It was based on a design for the Stoke Poges Church in England, complete with its own bell tower.

The rector at the time, Dr. Rafter, hired two young Swedish stonemasons to complete the job, as no one with the type of training and skills necessary could be found locally.  After the foundation for the tower was laid and partially built, Dr. Rafter stopped by to check on how things were going.  Instead of the two men he hired, he only found one of the men at work, and apparently very agitated and nervous-acting.  The next day, NO one showed up for work, and the two masons were not heard from again.

With the two masons gone, there was no one left to finish the job properly, so a roof was slapped onto what was already built, and the budding bell tower was turned into a study room for the rector.  No one could understand why the two men disappeared without notice, especially since they had done such a nice job on the tower thus far.

It wasn't too long until odd happenings began in the rector's study room.  The sounds of banging and muffled voices emanated from inside the walls.  After awhile, it became so bad, that the room was sealed up.  It was opened later, however, to install a pipe organ.

By 1927, it was decided that, after all these years, the bell tower should and would be finished.  However, workmen were quickly starting to be frightened away by the sounds of hammering, muffled voices, and other noises coming from the walls themselves.  Many refused to work on the tower, fearing it was haunted, or even cursed.  In an effort to appease the workmen, and possibly even the potential spirit that resided within, the rector at the time, Father Bennett, decided to have the workmen build the ghost its own room.

This room was complete with chandelier and inlaid wooden floors.  It is accessible, but only by an 85 foot spiral staircase that starts in the basement, and leads up to its location, right  under the 11 carillon bells.  Since the construction of the room, things seemed to have calmed down a bit.

However, in 1966, an extremely old man confessed to a Father Todd that he was one of the young Swedish masons hired over 80 years ago.  He confessed that the other man that was hired fell to his death during the construction of the tower.  The surviving man panicked...he thought he would be blamed for the friend's death.  In an effort to hide the evidence, the dead man's body was buried in a wall, and cemented over.  Now, an identify for the ghost could finally be found.  But...that's not the end of the tale...

In 1979, the bell tower was opened for tours, many of which catered to the curious and paranormally minded population.  It was that year that as part of a Halloween promotion by a local radio station, that an area psychic was brought in.  The psychic had multiple experiences, and came to the conclusion that the young Swedish immigrant wasn't the only ghost in the tower; Dr. Rafter also remained in his beloved  study room.

Today, no tours are given of the tower, or of the "Ghost Room."  The current clergy believe that the resident ghosts are happiest when they are not being disturbed, and are quietly enjoying the room built just for them.

The photo above and the bulk of information came from the Haunted Houses website

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