Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.ARTHUR C. CLARKE, 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, Indiana, was the home of William Culbertson, once the richest man in the state. Built in 1867 at a cost of $120,000, this French Second Empire-style mansion has 25 rooms within 20,000 square feet, and was completed in November 1869.
Features within the three-story edifice include frescoed ceilings, a carved rosewood and mahogany staircase, marble fireplaces, fabric wallpaper and crystal chandeliers. The tin roof was imported from Scotland.
The house has seen many owners and changes since Culbertson and his family roamed the hallways. At the time of his death, William Culbertson willed the home to his third wife who sold it at auction in 1899 for $7,100. During the past century it has belonged to the American Legion and would have been torn down to make way for a gas station if the local historical society hadn't intervened in the late 1960's.
In 1985, the carriage house behind the mansion was opened as a haunted attraction during the month of October. It has raised nearly $600,000 since, with all the proceeds going to a restoration fund. The first floor of the mansion is completely finished and the second floor is well on its way.
Every year, the kids and I head over to the main house for ghost stories. For the admission price of two dollars, we get to trek by candlelight up the long winding staircase to the attic. There we hear about all the odd happenings that have taken place in the mansion including a small stuffed doll that moves from bed to bed in the children's room, and Misty the ghost cat, a favorite of the Culbertson family, that has been seen walking up and down the main staircase when the moon is full.
There have been inexplicable noises -- footsteps, murmurs, and doors slamming -- and sightings of a ghost dubbed the "lady in gray" that some believe is Culbertson's second wife, Cornelia, who died of cholera in 1880. Of his three wives, she lived in the house the longest.
The creaky floorboards and the wind whistling through the lone attic window always add to the experience. Every year as we're making our was back down the steps, I tell the kids not to step on the cat. I've never seen Misty, but I figure it's good to be prepared.
I'll be back with another spooky stop in my haunted hometown on Thursday.