The Alexander House
Is this B&B Haunted?!
Accounts and Observations by the Innkeepers
There was an old abandoned house in our little town, overgrown and covered with vines. The year was 1993, and our lady mayor, being offended by unkept properties of absent landlords, sent out letters asking owners to clean up their lots. What was to be the Alexander House was put up for sale, asking price $10,000 for house barn, cook house, garage, all on three acres. My wife, being president of the Town of West Historical and Preservation Society, said, "Let's buy it, and restore the old house." Research showed that the house was built in about 1880 with many additions through the years. So we offered $9000 and the offer was accepted. We started clearing brush, repairing broken windows, collapsed floors etc. Finally the question arose, 'What shall we do with this property, even if we finally get it presentable?" Ruth Ray said, "You know, retirement is pretty boring, and I love people and have often thought of having a bed and breakfast. Here we are in West, kind of cut off from the world as we knew it. A B&B would be sure to attract interesting people from all over." My wife can he pretty persuasive, and so the Alexander House B&B was born.
We opened in 1994, $160,000 later. The Alexander family seemed to have been the owners from 1901 to 1956, hence the name.
Ruth Ray's cousin remembers the house as having a narrow stairway to the second floor, narrow in the sense that four men carrying a casket had difficulty negotiating the stairs. You see, four of the Alexanders lived in the four upstairs bedrooms, and in old age died in their beds, so to speak. It seems that the custom in the area was to take a casket up the stairs, place the body inside, and come back down the stairs on the way to the church, and then the cemetery. Apparently Cousin Charles remembers more than one trip down those stairs with a casket. Let me add that Charles' mother was an Alexander.
Miss Annie's room seems to be where all the action is. It is upstairs, on the northeast corner of the house. Miss Annie was a school teacher for years in West and was well known and liked. The first mild occurrence in this room was when Ruth Ray's cousin Dorothy slept there. The next morning she reported that while reading in bed she felt a peculiar presence. The smoke detector beeped once, and the table lamp went off. then come back on.
Explanation-- coincidence and imagination.
The following week Ruth Ray was cleaning the room and noticed a book open, as if someone had been reading. She mentioned it to me, and I thought I had the explanation when our next electric bill came. I told Ruth Ray to tell Miss Annie to do her reading in the daytime. Lights cost too much. Explanation- pure imagination.
A couple from Nashville staged in the room. The wife was brushing her teeth in a little sink behind the door to the hall, when the door slowly swung open and bumped against her. Then just as her husband came out of the bathroom, the door swung closed. He asked, "Who was that?" His wife replied, "Miss Annie- She didn't want to see you in your underwear!"
Explanation: poorly fitting door latches, uneven floors, and jocularity.
Shortly thereafter Ruth Ray was cleaning the room and heard metal tinkle on the floor. She picked up two old fashioned hair pins, the kind that are widely spread apart.
Explanation-- Possibly planted as a joke by two girls who had staged in the room the night before. I wonder where they got the hairpins?
One day early this year, a woman who was the daughter in law of the previous owner stopped to see the renovated Alexander House. She mentioned that she had never liked the old house. She slept in Ulrich's room, in the upstairs southwest corner of the house. When her husband was out of town she stayed locked in her room, petrified. She could hear steps in the night, and Miss Annie’s door close. She said her mother in law would be cooking downstairs in the kitchen, and when a noise happened upstairs, she would call out, "It's all right Miss Annie- Just quiet down." Finally, the daughter in law had enough and she and her husband bought a small trailer to sleep in out in the garden. (Both my wife and I wondered about the utility pole in the backyard.)
Explanation- pure imagination.
One day Ruth Ray noticed water dripping down the closet wall in the kitchen. There obviously was a leak in the plumbing upstairs. After careful measurements, I determined that it must be coming from the new bath we had added to Miss Annie's room. Finally I had to tear out the ceiling of the closet to get to the plumbing, and found the leak to be from the shower drain in Miss Annie's room. The plastic drain had been installed at an angle, permitting a slow leak- Some putty epoxy sealed the leak.
Explanation-- bad plumber.
The most recent action in Miss Annie's room occurred when a local couple rented all the rooms for a family reunion with kinfolk from Alabama. The guests showed up with two camcorders and shot every move the family made, and recorded all the reunion talk. Suddenly one called from upstairs, "Sister, sister, come quick. This cat just blinked its eyes." The sister rushed upstairs, and also witnessed the cat blink. But no blinks for any one else. As you might expect, the cat was embossed on a garbage can in Miss Annie's room. My wife wondered why anyone would be pointing a camcorder at a trash can on the floor in the first place. A few days later, we had a call from the folks in Alabama. They were playing back the video, and the cat definitely blinked. Not only that, they had the tape processed to freeze the frame, and both the cat’s eyes are definitely closed. There is no streak across the frame. Explanation- No rational one yet. We have a copy of the video. As an aside, one day I happened to be upstairs and noticed a youngster staring at the garbage can in Miss Annie’s room. I asked him what he was doing. He answered, I'm waiting for the cat to blink its eyes."
I will close this story with a lost experience had by Ruth Ray’s nephew’s wife. She and Dick stayed in Ulrich's room two nights. The first morning she came to breakfast and announced, "Well, I guess you all know this house is haunted- Last night I heard footsteps, and somebody talking in a real low bass voice, sort of a rumble- I knew it wasn't Dick because his voice is high."
Explanation- a runaway imagination.
The next morning Chris came to breakfast and announced, "I know what it is all about- I dreamed this deep voice said, 'Ulrick'.. and he isn’t happy with what is going on in the house now, but his voice was so deep I could hardly understand him."
Explanation - imagination again.
A few days I later we happened to tell I the story to our neighbor, Doug, who was born in West and knows all the local lore- He said, "I know why Chris heard such a deep voice- Ulrich Alexander died of throat cancer and you could hardly understand him in his last year.
Explanation: I don't have one- Nobody knew Ulrich died of cancer.