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by Dianna Avena, guest contributor.  [August 27,2007]




[]  I conduct two-hour tours through the historic district of Roswell, Georgia. Many spirits reside within the antebellum mansions that General Sherman never burned.

In deep ravines with ruined mills hold secrets of exiled mill workers, whose toilsome moans may still be heard.

In Founders Cemetery, burial site of Roswell founder, Roswell King, where bodies are buried beneath modern streets and houses.

Grand Greek revival mansions and humble mill workers' apartments are some of the haunted sites you'll see when I accompany you on the Roswell Ghost Tour, and its one mile of easy walking.

The latest flurry of paranormal activity that tour-goers have seen involve the Old Bricks -- the first townhome-type buildings constructed in the United States. They were built for the mills' foremen and their families. During the Civil War, they were taken over by Union soldiers and used as a hospital for their wounded.

In the early 1990s, the Old Bricks were purchased by a family who organized the Founders Club, a social club they rented out for events. They decorated the Old Bricks's interior with Civil War-era antiques, and installed a security system with motion sensors.

One afternoon, they placed two large prints on opposing mantles in a large room. The next morning, the owners found the print of a Union soldier face-up on the floor, lying far from its mantle. The security system had not been tripped. The frame was undamaged, but the glass was shattered in a spiderweb effect, as if a large boot had stomped on it.

Odd things continued to occur to that Union soldier's print whenever the owners tried to include it in the building's décor. The inhabitants surmised that a ghost of a Confederate soldier was unhappy to see a large photo of a Union soldier in his own dwelling.

The employees and members of the Founders Club named this ghost Fred, and they witnessed many other signs of Fred's presence.  There was no reason for this chosen name; just a need to name him since he was referred to so often.  Although Fred's first occurrence was aggressive, the majority of his actions were more prank related.

One prank occurred at an evening cocktail party in the club, in the late 1990s. A gentleman who lived across the street was in attendance, standing with others in a circle, as he drank and told stories. Suddenly, he was physically lifted up off of the ground, turned around 180 degrees, then placed down. Right in front of everyone!

Another night, the owners' adult daughter was upstairs with two kitchen workers, preparing a dining room for a business luncheon scheduled for the next day. They readied seven tables with six chairs at each table, setting cloth napkins, plates, glasses, and silverware. Once finished, they all went downstairs, and the workers were dismissed for the evening.

When the daughter ran back upstairs to shut the lights and gather her belongings, she saw that at one table, each chair had been pulled back.

Napkins were draped over the backs of the six chairs and the silverware was crossed on the plates, as if Fred had had his own little dinner party.

This became a common occurrence. It became a routine for the workers to check any rooms that had been prepared for public events, to assure that the furniture and items were still in place. Apparently, Fred often had dinner parties during the middle of the night.

The Founders Club closed in 2005. The Old Bricks was gutted, to be divided into condominiums.  Our Roswell Ghost Tour guides and attendees are currently seeing more ghostly activity during this renovation. It seems that Fred is unhappy with all the commotion, which is to be expected. Haunting reports normally increase during renovations. Even changing a room's furniture, or paint color or wallpaper, may illicit an increase in a haunted place's paranormal activity.

During the gutting of the Old Bricks in the fall of 2005, I once faced a tour group with my back to the building. I was relating the pranks that Fred has pulled over the years, when I felt an intense cold on my back. As usual, I didn't mention this to the group; I prefer to let the tour-goers tell us what they may be experiencing.

Suddenly, several attendees shouted that the upstairs window behind me was opening. I turned around, expecting to see an upper pane slowly lowering. With all the work being done, construction might have caused the windows to loosen. But that wasn't the case.

We all watched in astonishment as the lower pane of the window rose upward!

The original doors were still intact, but the thresholds had been removed by then. We all saw through a four-inch gap (between the door's bottom and the brick porch) that the bottom floor had been removed. We saw the basement area. There wasn't a first floor. There probably wasn't a second floor. And even if a person had gotten to a second floor, we couldn't see how a window could be lifted without us seeing an arm or a stick used to do so.

This is the only time that I wanted to quickly leave a location during a tour. I said I wanted to leave, and proceeded to do so. I walked away -- backward -- so I could watch the tour group, while also watching the window opening even wider.

Suddenly, I heard loud, clunky footsteps approach me from behind. I assumed someone from our group had gotten ahead of me. I turned my head, planning to remark about the rest of our brave group still standing there, when I realized there was no one behind me after all!


Dianna Avena gives the Roswell Ghost Tours and is the author of Roswell: History, Haunts and Legends.

Copyright 2007 by Dianna Avena

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