ARCH just wrapped up another October of Haunted Fort Wayne tours. Haunted tours will resume in the summer; check archfw.org for tour schedules.
1 What is it about old houses that makes them so conducive to spookiness?
Old places have had time to accumulate stories, especially houses where people have lived ... and died. But I have to admit that some of Fort Wayne's really good ghost stories are not in houses.
2 How do you find the stories that your tour guides tell? Are the owners of places that are the subjects of these tales excited or dismayed to be part of your tours?
ARCH finds its ghost stories by reading the city's oldest history books, by searching archives of old newspapers and by talking to people who tell us their family stories. And we learn new stories all the time! I'm not sure how the owners feel as a group. I bet each one has different feelings.
For the record, ARCH not only has fun with the people who enjoy our month of haunted tours every year, but we appreciate the support people give us by attending them. And we fit in quite a bit of historical and architectural information along with the ghoulish, gory and all-around horrible stories. It's a win-win situation!
3 What are your favorite most haunted places in Fort Wayne?
My favorite ghost has to be the Embassy Theatre's resident ghost, Bud Berger, because he loves and protects the place so well. That's my kind of ghost story.
4 Tell us your favorite, scariest or most awkward blood-curdling story.
This is one of the tales we tell during the part of our tours about Fort Wayne's ghoulish era of grave robbings, before it was legal for medical schools to obtain donated cadavers for their students to study.
It's about a nearby cemetery and a medical school that was located downtown, and I think it is absolutely creepy.
ARCH has a story from a man whose grandfather was buried in a Roanoke cemetery, and lanterns were placed at the head and foot of his grave for seven days to deter grave robbers. But when relatives visited the grave a few days later, the lanterns and the body were gone. They went immediately to the medical school and demanded the return of their loved one's remains. Medical school personnel, of course, denied that they had any part in the removal of the body and said the grandfather's corpse wasn't there.
Their denials might have been believed, too, if the family hadn't noticed the school's janitor, who was sweeping the hall, was wearing their grandfather's burial outfit.
5If you discovered your house was haunted, what would you do?
Depends on the spirit. I would feel nicely protected by a Bud Berger-type ghost. But a poltergeist or angry, moaning ghost? Not so sure I could handle that.