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Meridian Ghost Stories

Meridian has more than its share of ghost stories.  Of course, it has more than its share of old buildings, too, with more historic buildings than any other city in Mississippi.  Here are a few of those stories.

 Causeyville General Store

 The old building was built in 1869 to trade with the Choctaw Indians who were still in the area.  It served as store and post office until the “new” building was erected in 1895.  Then an International Harvest gristmill was installed and it’s been grinding corn ever since.  The 1895 building serves as a general store even today, selling a little bit of everything.  The proprietor, Dorothy Thompson Hagood opens the store for customers seven days a week.  But the building’s spirit inhabitants are active whenever the mood strikes them.

In 2006, Orbservations, a group that investigates paranormal activities, came to the Causeyville General Store.  Through infrared cameras, digital recording, audio recording and other equipment, they photographed orbs of light in several places, and sheets of light in the wing that was once a doctor’s office. 

Dorothy Hagood thought her antique pianos on display in the back of the store were not in working order.  And they aren’t – at least for the living.  On the tapes made by Orbservations piano music plays in the background.

When the Orbservations group left, and the sales clerk arrived to open the store in the morning, she found a light swinging wide at the length of its chain, and the ceiling decorations nearby bouncing from their strings.  When Dorothy arrived, she found the clerk sitting on the porch of the store, saying, “Somebody in there isn’t happy about all those photographs last night.”

No-nonsense Dorothy stalked into the store, stuck a broom up to stop the lamp and decorations, and told the spirit to stop.  The lamp quieted down.

There are no clues as to who or why the spirits might be inside the Causeyville General Store.  Over the years it’s been owned by lots of people, and has had every function from the doctor’s office to the general store, to barber shop to a motion picture theater.

Merrehope

On the other extreme, the Merrehope house, part of which pre-dates the Civil War, has two ghosts whose identities are known.  Merrehope’s bright, beautifully renovated rooms aren’t at all spooky, but sightings have happened on a regular basis. 

One spirit seems to be associated with the portrait of Eugenia Gary (lower portrait in photo).  Eugenia never lived in the house.  She died of consumption before her family moved into the house.  When her (and her sister’s) portraits were located in a house her family had later lived in, the portraits were brought back to Merrehope.  Soon after a quiet woman was seen walking in through the front door, in the downstairs library, or in one of the windows.  Once when a senior citizen’s group was touring the house they posed for a group photo beside the Christmas tree.  When they developed the photos there was an extra member in their group – a lady in an old-fashioned dress standing by the tree.

The other spirit said to inhabit Merrehope isn’t so pleasant.  In the upstairs bedroom now known as the Periwinkle room, a man once lined up whiskey bottles on the mantle, shot them, then turned the gun on himself.  The bullet holes have been repaired, but the spirit still makes a ruckus. 

The docent tells of one morning when she came into the house and, as usual, looked through the rooms before opening the house to tours.  In the Periwinkle room she was stopped cold.  There was a full-body imprint on the bed as if someone were lying there.  In addition, on occasion shattering noises can be heard from the room.  The spirit – nicknamed Mr. Periwinkle by the staff – doesn’t seem to leave that one bedroom, and never acts in a threatening way towards the guests or staff.

Hamasa Shrine Temple Theater

In operation since 1928, the Temple Theater still looks much like it did on opening night when someone played the Robert Morton organ to accompany the Clara Bow movie, “Wings.”  The Shriner who showed me around the theater said orbs often show up on photos. 

Dust, light reflection, or spirit?  Who can say?  Even Saint Paul said we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).

 

 

 

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Meridian's Grand Opera House.  Two photos taken within a minute of each other.  There's no logical explanation for the spot of light on the left that is fading in the second photo.  It did not show up in any other photos I took that day.

June 2008

 

Grand Opera House

Most theaters are said to have resident spirits and the renovated 1890 Grand Opera House that is now part of the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts is no exception.  The main spirit is thought to be connected to the portrait of a lady that is painted above the stage.  People have mentioned feeling icy spots or a hand on their shoulder when no one is there.  And photographs often have orbs of light that can’t be explained as lens flare or dust.

But the spirits here are described as benevolent.  Even the performers find the Grand Opera House full of “positive vibes.”

 

 

Page updated July 2008      ©2008 Lisa Lowe Stauffer