by Ruby Vee
Ever wonder what happens when a haunted building is demolished?
- 5 Published Jul 18, '11Ghost Building
I've always wondered what happens to the ghosts that haunt a building once the building is demolished. Do they go off into oblivion once the building is gone? Or do they stay at the longitude and latitude where the building once stood?
It was a famous hospital, founded during the Civil War and treated in its time both Union and Confederate soldiers. We'll call it St. Peters General Hospital. By the time I took a job there well over a century later, the buildings were grossly antiquated and a new building was under construction. As is nearly always the case, there were construction delays, and the projected move into the new building was pushed back again and again. From the moment I started my job, I heard about the planned "demolition parties". It seemed that every nursing unit had their own demolition party planned for sometime after the patients were moved into the brand new building and before the scheduled demolition of the historic old buildings. As such things do, the plans grew larger and more elaborate as the time involved for planning grew longer and longer.
By the time the new hospital was completed and ready for occupation, the par tic had grown to epic proportions. Every nurse who had ever worked at St. Peter's (or at least the ones who were still living) was invited to the party, It was to be a costume party -- dress as your favorite "frequent flier", physician or nurse. Some of the nurses were sewing their own Civil war era nursing costumes, and one had an elaborate costume planned. She was going as a legendary "frequent flier" of the 1930s. (The thing about old, old hospitals is that the legends grow and grow but they never go away.) There was going to be an alcoholic punch served in IV bottles and specimen containers and one group of nurses swore they were going to drink their beer out of Foley bags. I didn't hear much about plans for food.
My vacation was planned a year in advance -- well before we got the final demolition date for the old building, but after we'd moved into the new one. Thus, I was out of town for the demolition party planned by my nursing unit for the night before the demolition. (I thought that was cutting things pretty close, given the amount of alcohol planned.) If it weren't for the fact that my sister's wedding was involved, I might have cancelled the vacation in favor of the party, but I didn't dare.
My first night back to work after vacation, I got off the bus at my usual stop at my usual time of 10:35 PM and walked the block and a half to the brand new hospital building. To my great surprise, the old buildings were still standing! There must have been someone's demolition party going on, though -- perhaps the orthopedic surgery floor, since so many of the costumes seemed to involve casts and crutches.
I could see the old buildings from my nursing unit in the new one, and as it was a slow night at work, I peered out the window frequently to check out the action. The windows glowed with flickering yellow light as if the building was lit with old fashioned kerosene lanterns, and I could see shadows passing back and forth in front of the windows. Party goers still came and went, dressed in all manner of elaborate costumes. There was a Confederate soldier on crutches and apparently missing his right leg being propped up by a Union soldier missing his left, and there was someone who looked like a 1920s-era gangster. Some guy wearing a patient gown and robe was wrapped up in kerlix like a mummy, and there was a woman in 1950s dress carrying a limp, toddler-sized doll. It looked like a fabulous party and I was truly disappointed to have missed our own demolition party. The other nurses could talk of nothing else all night. I remember asking one nurse when the demolition date was going to be, and getting some strange looks, but forgot about it as the night wore on.
I got busy about 4 AM, and wasn't able to look out the window again. The sun came up, the day shift arrived, and my night was over. As I stumbled out to the bus stop in the light of day, I turned to catch a last glimpse of the old St. Peters buildings . . . . but they weren't there. Demolition had gone as planned while I was away on vacation. The old buildings were gone. There was nothing but a big hole in the ground surrounded by chain link fence.
I'm not sure what I saw that night . . . the product of a very strong imagination, or was it the ghost of the building? A ghost building? And all of the "party goers" -- could they have been ghosts? They all looked as real and as solid as the patients I was caring for that night.
I never saw the building again, although I may have seen some of the patients I saw that night. The woman with the limp doll? She came up to me one night as I was getting off the bus, begging for directions to the emergency room. The "doll" looked like a real child, albeit not a very healthy one. I gave her directions to the new ER, but seconds later she was back, asking for directions to "St. Peters Emergency room -- it's been here for a hundred years." She didn't seem to listen to my explanations about the new ER and kept begging for directions to the old one. Finally I told her "You're dead. Go away." And she melted away, child and all.
I never had the courage to ask any of my colleagues if they had seen anything strange involving the old building or former patients . . . and no one volunteered anything. I moved away before too much longer . . . and although I've been back to that city to visit old friends, I've never gone near St. Peters again. Call me a coward, but I really don't want to know what happens to the ghosts long after a haunted building is demolished.
About Ruby Vee
Ruby Vee joined Jun '02 - from 'the Midwest'. Ruby Vee has '38' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ICU/CCU'. Posts: 8,120 Likes: 27,786; Learn more about Ruby Vee by visiting their allnursesPage