Haunted Libraries: Andrew Bayne Memorial Library

Andrew Bayne Memorial Library, Bellevue, PA

Andrew Bayne Memorial Library, Bellevue, PA

3. Andrew Bayne Memorial Library, Bellevue, PA


Unlike most of the stories told so far, Bayne Memorial Library began life as the home of Amanda Bayne Balph, daughter of Andrew Bayne who was a member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention and Sheriff of Allegheny County in 1838. Mrs Balph’s husband, James Madison Balph, was a prominent architect at the time and designed the Victorian home, placing marble fireplaces in each room and etching his name above the entrance to the house.

Upon the death of Mrs Balph and her sister Jane Bayne Teece, the house and surrounding property was bequeathed to the Borough of Bellvue. The sisters wanted the house to be used as a library and the rest of the property to be converted into a park.

In 1914, a library committee announced the opening of two rooms in the old home for use as a library. In the early 1920s, a group of women called the Bellevue Federation sought and received permission to use the home as a meeting place. They used the upstairs rooms for their meeting space.

It wasn’t until 1927 – thirteen years after the library committee first met to announce the opening of rooms for use as a library – that the library and park were formally dedicated to the citizens of Bellevue. At the time of the dedication, the library contained 3,000 volumes, most of which had come from the private libraries of Amanda and Jane.

In the 1960s, the library was renovated and with the renovation came the monumental task of updating texts that were in poor shape or no longer used. Some were discarded outright, some repaired, but all were finally cataloged.

Today, the park surrounding the library has playground equipment and a large field that is used for football and extreme frisbee. During the summer, the library offers movies and concerts on Wednesdays.


Since the library began life as a home, it’s understandable that it was a beloved place for those who spent so much of their lives within its walls. One of the manifestations witnessed by staff and patrons alike is that of Amanda Bayne Balf herself, recognizable because a of her portraits hangs in one of the library rooms. She is often seen upstairs in what was once her bedroom. She is also known to be a mischievous entity, often turning lights off and on, randomly. Strange numbers have also appeared on computers, entered by unseen hands.



Haunted Libraries: The Saline County Library

Old Palace Theatre, Benton, Arkansas converted into a library for Saline County from 1967 - 2002

Old Palace Theatre, Benton, Arkansas converted into a library for Saline County from 1967 – 2002

5. The Saline County Library, AR


The Saline County Library has its beginnings like most other small libraries around the country: it was begun by a social organization which often took on civic projects to benefit the surrounding community. In this case, it was the Benton Junior Fortnightly Club of Benton, Arkansas that took on the task. The library was located on the second floor of the Walton building in downtown Benton and opened in 1931.

As with most libraries, the first location and many subsequent locations of the Saline County Library became too small to hold the library’s ever growing collection. Seven years after opening, the library was moved to a building next to City Hall. Ten years beyond that, it was relocated again to a former doctor’s office. There would be three more moves over the years before the library finally settled into its own building in 2002. A second location was dedicated in 2003.

Today there are only two branch locations that serve the entire county.


The interesting thing about this library’s haunted history is that it’s from a former location, not a current one and the alleged hauntings might not have anything to do with the library. From 1967 to 2003, the library was housed in an old theatre, the Old Palace Theatre. One reported story is that the director once heard the tick-tick-tick of a manual typewriter when the library had discarded theirs long ago.

Other librarians reported hearing phantom footsteps, seeing paperback carousels rotating on their own, and the typical books falling off the shelves.

As there are no stories to be found of former librarians who passed on yet couldn’t quite let go of their earthly duties to the patrons of the library, I’m more inclined to believe that whatever ghosts there might be are from the days when the Old Palace Theatre served its true purpose to the people of Saline County as an entertainment venue.


The Saline County Library site
Library Ghosts: Southern U.S.
10 Haunted U.S. Libraries

Haunted Libraries: Peoria Public Library


Peoria Public Library

Peoria Public Library

My apologies for falling behind with this series.

6. Peoria Public Library, Peoria, IL

Unlike the libraries so far in our list, the Peoria Public Library’s fate was doomed from the start. The land on which the library is built was cursed by a previous tenant.

It all started in 1830 with Mrs Andrew Gray and the death of her brother, after which she gained custody of her nephew. The nephew refused to get a job and generally trod on the wrong side of the law too often and Mrs Gray was forced to hire a lawyer to smoothe things over. David Davis was a newly made lawyer come to town and was hired by the Grays. He deftly got Mrs Gray’s nephew out of any jam, but at an increasing debt to the Grays. Concerned over payment, Davis forced the Grays to use their home as collateral for his services and when the bill came due, Davis sued to collect the mortgage as his fees and the nephew was given the boot. Soon after, the nephew’s lifeless body was discovered floating in the Illinois River. Mrs Gray then cursed the property and all future occupants. The curse seemed to work, for after Davis assumed the property, nothing would grow on the very land where Mrs Gray had cultivated beautiful gardens. It was then that the first ghostly appearances were reported: that of Mrs Gray’s nephew banging on the door, begging to be let in.

In 1894, the city of Peoria purchased the property on Monroe Street where Mrs Andrew Gray once lived. A library was built on the property – though there is some debate over whether it was built exactly where Mrs Gray’s house once stood or on another part of the property. Considering that at the time of the land purchase there were three different lots which made up the purchase, it’s entirely feasible to believe the library is not built directly on the same footprint as the house. At any rate, the first three directors of the new library died under unusual circumstances, a sure sign that the curse was working even beyond the existence of the house. The first director, E. S. Willcox, was killed in a streetcar accident in 1915; the second, Samuel Patterson Prowse, died from a heart attack suffered at a library board meeting in 1921; and the third, Dr. Edwin Wiley, committed suicide by swallowing arsenic in 1924. One might surely think that these were all coincidences and that Dr Wiley had previously established depressive episodes, but at the time of the events, Mrs Gray’s curse was foremost in everyone’s minds.

Though the directors are long gone, Mr Willcox seems to have a fondness for the library even after his tenure and life came to an end. Patrons have reported seeing a man wandering the halls dressed in early 20th Century attire. Employees have seen his face in a basement doorway, among other things such as hearing their names called when no one else is around and feeling cold drafts where there ought not to be any.

Hauntings are not the only strange things about the library…

In 1907, school superintendent Newton Dougherty blew up a safe inside the library to hide evidence of embezzlement of school funds.

The library was also part of a blackmail plot following the death of George P. McNear, Jr. McNear’s widow received two different letters informing her that she would be given the name of her husband’s murderer if she left $1,000 in a special drawer in the third floor education room of the Peoria Public Library. William A. Gibson and his son Billy Gibson were arrested for blackmail when they showed up to retrieve the cash.


Whatever happened in this library’s past, it seems to have no affect on patrons today. People still use the library on a daily basis and no one seems adverse to having to stay there a little later in the evenings.


Top 10 Creepiest Places in Illinois
Library Ghosts: Midwestern U.S.
Haunted Peoria by Stephanie E. McCarthy (book)
Peoria Public Library Is Haunted!

Haunted Libraries: Pattee Library

Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University

Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University

7. Pattee Library, University Park, PA


The library began life in Old Main, which was the first building of significance on Penn State’s campus, with 1,500 books. In 1904, the library moved to the Carnegie Building which had a 50,000 book capacity, however by 1940 the collection had grown to three times that size. Enter Pattee Library: built in the late 1930s as part of the Public Works Administration-General State Authority and named for Fred Lewis Pattee, considered the first professor of American literature. Over the next thirty-three years, the library would see three expansions: the Stack Building in 1953; “West Pattee” in 1963; and “East Pattee” in 1973.


As I began searching for any hauntings within the library, I found something related and probably the source of any activity: an unsolved mystery. Apparently, on November 28, 1969, graduate student Betsy Ruth Aardsma was stabbed to death in the stacks of the Pattee Library. You’ll have to follow the link below to read the full story of what happened, but she seems to be the one haunting the books down in the basement. People have a sense of presence there, things get moved around, and one student claimed to feel someone grab her neck. A single shrill scream – like the one Betsy emitted the night of her murder – can often be heard from the Stacks, a dark remote area on the second floor.

Apparently, though, Ms Aardsma isn’t alone in her ghostly wanderings. Screams have been heard from the subbasement and shadowy female forms & glowing red eyes have been seen in the library.

One story could probably be chalked up to an over-active imagination. After falling asleep in the library atop a copy of a satanic bible, one female student reportedly felt unsafe in the library and felt she was being watched. That feeling followed her home and in the middle of the night she woke to a choking sensation, as if unseen hands were trying to end her life, and she was unable to call out to her roommate. I guess college students never succumb to sleep paralysis.

Perhaps Ms Aardsma’s ghost is destined to roam among the books for all eternity, since her murder was never solved, but like most ghosts on campus, she’s been integrated into campus life quite smoothly.


Mystery Of Stacks Murder Continues As Anniversary Nears
Penn State Poltergeists
Haunted Colleges Series: Penn State University

Haunted Libraries: Houston Public Library

Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library

8. Houston Public Library – Houston, Texas


Houston Public Library, like the Scottsdale library, got its start through an endowment from Andrew Carnegie and traces its existence back to 1854 where it began life as the Houston Lyceum. In 1904, a building resembling a miniature temple housed the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library. But with the discovery of and subsequent oil boom, the city’s population quickly tripled in the following two decades and the city outgrew it’s tiny library.

The librarian of the Houston Lyceum, one Julia Ideson, was finally moved to complain publicly about the conditions within the cramped library. The collection was growing to such an extent that shelves were being put where shelves weren’t meant to be. This growth left little space for people to actually do research and other work there at the library. While expansion to the existing building was not possible nor practical, land was sought elsewhere. Mayor A.E. Amerman proposed a plot of city-owned land on the north bank of Buffalo Bayou near Capitol Avenue, an idea which Ideson endorsed.

By 1926, the city would dedicate a new building – named for the woman who advocated for the expansion of the Lyceum – that would serve the city as the central library for fifty years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.  In 1979, the Ideson Building underwent renovations and reopened as the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. The Center has been designated as an official Regional Historical Resource Depository by the Texas State Library.

It is this building which is believed to be haunted…


Although the Ideson Building has never been “formally” investigated, there are plenty of reports from workers who have experienced one thing or another, but all attributed to one man.

The ghostly manifestation is said to be that of Mr Jacob Cranmer, the library’s first night watchman who also worked as a handyman and gardener. He rented a small apartment space in the basement of the library and lived there with his German shepherd Petey. In his spare time, Jacob loved to play the violin and would often sit on the top floor of the library serenading the building he loved. In November 1936, he was found dead of an apparent lung hemorrhage. He was buried in Hiawatha, KS, but many believe he never left. Patrons have reported the sound of toenails tapping on the floor and others have often found sheet music left in unusual places when it is normally locked away. Patrons and employees alike have heard Jacob’s return to provide ghostly strains of Strauss’ waltzes.

A senior library services specialist once reported seeing shadows out of the corner of his eye on the second floor in the Texas Collection. He thought it was the shape of a man, but as soon as the man looked directly at the shadow, it would vanish. Lights in the Texas Room have also known to flicker.

If only we had living people as dedicated to their jobs as Mr Cranmer seems to have been and still is…