Colonnade, Central Park, Louisville, Kentucky, between 1900 and 1910, Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
The park’s 17 acres were owned by the Dupont family in the 1870s, yet open for public use as “Dupont Square.” In 1883, the space — temporarily “roofed in” — was used to demonstrate Thomas Edison’s light bulb.
In 1904, the Duponts sold the land to the city, and Frederick Law Olmsted, who was already working in Louisville, designed a large open-air shelter and colonnade for the park’s high point. The colonnade still exists and is undergoing restoration.
This was the front porch of “The Firs” in New Baltimore, Michigan, between 1901 and 1910.* At that time, it was a summer boarding house.
Although the ladies above look calm enough, throughout the 20th century — and up until the house was torn down in 2005 — many residents, visitors, and trespassers reported weird phenomena there.
Lights flickered, dishes flew off the table, strange voices were heard, and invisible fingers stroked girls’ hair. Ghostly figures were sometimes seen — particularly those of a young woman, an older man, and a child playing in the yard — or so ’twas said.
The residence was first known as Hatheway House, for Gilbert Hatheway, a businessman who built it about 1860.
When he died in 1871, the house went to his son, James S. H. P. Hatheway. James had one daughter, Mabel, who died in March of 1881.
Mabel was only twenty at the time of her demise and had married a man from another town just three months earlier. Local legend has her being killed from a fall down the Hatheway House stairs.
One account of the alleged incident notes that her father, irritable from chronic pain, was also unhappy with her choice of husband; another brings up an older cousin with anger management issues. In at least one version of Mabel’s slight history, she is mentally ill.
In the late 1800s, the Hatheway family moved out of the house, and it became The Firs.
About the same time, or perhaps later during the WWI years, the west side of the building was turned into a small hospital, run by Dr. Virginia French. It was never a home for the insane, although that was the creepier story often passed down.
I haven’t been able to find out what happened to the property later in the 20th century, except that it seems to have been empty by the late 1990s, if not well before — perhaps because of its reputation as a haunted house.
Naturally, teenagers found it a fun place to explore at night and vandalize. In August 2005, much to the neighbors’ relief by one account, the house was demolished. However, there continue to be reports of strange lights and noises in the ruins of the basement.
You can scroll through more (and larger) images of The Firs by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.
*Photos by Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
By 1903, they had dammed the Toxaway River — creating the 640-acre artificial Lake Toxaway — and constructed the luxurious 500-guest Toxaway Inn. After 1904, when the Southern Railroad opened a depot on the lake, the area was known as “Switzerland of America.”
The Lodge was presented in a 1905 company brochure as a “nature kindergarten” for “children of the city” to learn about trees, flowers, and birds. Farm animals and poultry were also available for study.
At an altitude of over 4,500 ft., the views from the wrap-around porch and the lookout tower were particularly good. Guests from the other Toxaway hotels would spend the night in the house to see the sunrise or sunset over the mountains.
It was also used as a hunting retreat for wealthy industrialists.
The Lodge no longer exists — although it was still there in 1920, four years after severe flooding caused the company’s dam to burst. (Some homes were destroyed, but only a mule perished.)
Lake Toxaway disappeared, and the Toxaway Inn emptied out as well. It never re-opened after 1916 and was demolished in 1947.
In the early 1960s, another group of investors rebuilt the dam. The lake re-filled, and a golf club and hotel were opened. The property around what was once The Lodge is now Preserve at Rock Creek, an “exclusive” real estate development.
To scroll through larger version of the photos, click on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.
My mind was once the true survey
Of all these meadows fresh and gay,
And in the greenness of the grass
Did see its hopes as in a glass. . .