Marge and Linda Hastreiter didn’t set out to go into the business of ghost busting.
“We moved here under the pretense that it would remain a museum honoring the Lovejoy neighborhood with an emphasis on railroad and military history,” Linda Hastreiter explained. The mother-daughter duo moved to the Iron Island Museum at 993 Lovejoy Street from down the road in 2000. It had formerly been a funeral home and before that, a church.
“We started to notice things as soon as we got the keys,” noted Linda. “There’d be a distinct sound of chairs being banged around down the hall, but then nothing would be moved. Or we’d hang a picture frame up and come back and it’d be on the floor.”
The activity was enough for the Hastreiters to reach out to “Ghost Hunters,” a paranormal reality television series on Syfy, which featured the museum as its season opener in 2008 and declared it officially haunted.
Over the years, many paranormal groups have visited the site – including Chip Coffey, a psychic, medium and spiritual counselor, who was able to identify some spirits who visit the site, including a young boy.
“(Chip) told us that there was a little boy who drowned that isn’t always here, but he comes and goes,” said Linda. “We were able to check the records and there was a boy named Richard who drowned and was waked here, but his parents still live down the road – so he likely does come and go between the two places.”
Encounters aren’t guaranteed; but Marge says you can always tell something is present.
“People get a weird look on their faces and they talk about getting the hard chills,” notes Marge.
But don’t be scared.
“Just remember, they want to be known and recognized. They were somebody. They were a human and were living and we want to keep their history alive,” Linda added.
If you’d like to hear this history, whether of Lovejoy’s past or of these spooky sightings, Iron Island Museum offers tours Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. or by appointment for $5 per person. There are also overnight investigations available from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. with a guide. Prices range between $105-$175.