By bestselling author and paranormal investigator Joni Mayhan
The Willard Library, located in Evansville, Indiana, was built in 1881 by William Carpenter, known locally as a pioneer of public charity. Victorian gothic in design, the brick building stands two stories tall, with a tower and ornate window arches. Being the oldest library in the state of Indiana, it contains a treasure trove of local historical archives and genealogy materials. It also has a ghost.
An apparition reportedly roams the hallways and library rooms. She became known as the Lady in Grey, since she was dressed in an 1800’s period grey dress with a matching grey shawl. First seen in the late 1930’s by a custodian, who soon quit his job in fear of seeing her again, she’s been viewed countless times since. Patrons and employees alike have witnessed water turning on and off, touches on their hair, unexplained noises, and items being moved. After numerous sightings, the library installed a series of web cams around the library, allowing viewers from around the world to search for her from the comfort of their own homes.
(Above) a screen capture by Margaret Blackwood, who was watching the ghost cam from Scotland and discovered this apparition during the night, while the library was closed.
The results have been phenomenal. People from all around the world have captured images of the grey lady as she roams the library in the middle of the night. Some even see her during the daytime, lingering in the children’s room or browsing the titles in the library.
During the mid 1970’s, when the library was under construction, the lead librarian, a woman named Margaret Maier, reported that the ghost went home with her. Her son didn’t believe her until he saw the apparition for himself. He witnessed a woman in a long grey dress climbing the staircase to the second floor in their house. When he went to investigate, she vanished before his eyes. After construction was completed, the Lady in Grey soon returned to the library.
(Above) Ghost cam capture of an apparition sitting at a table
The special collections librarian also experienced the apparition. She was reading a book, while walking out of the second story staff room. As she passed a stack of books, she stopped short, catching something out of the corner of her eye. When she looked up, she found herself face to face with the ghostly figure.
Who is the Lady in Grey?
While nobody knows for certain, many claim she is Louise Carpenter, daughter of William Carpenter. As it turns out, Louisa might have good reason to haunt the building her father established.
It was a wellknown fact that William Carpenter’s business dealings were sometimes less than ethical. While he was a tremendous public charity supporter, his personal dealings were far from charitable. At the time of his death, he left very little of his monumental fortune to his children, essentially cutting them off completely.
According to local paranormal investigator, Bill Miller, the ghost isn’t Louise at all.
“If it was Louise, she would be ripping books off the shelves,” he said. “The lady in grey was gentle, nothing like that.” He thinks Lady in Grey was a woman who died in the canal behind the library, long before the library was built.
Lucille Warren, a popular parapsychologist, visited the library in 1985 and reported a similar story. Because the woman was dressed in clothing that predated Louise Carpenter’s era, she feels the woman was from an earlier time. Through her psychic perceptions, she felt that the woman drowned in the canal, possibly from a suicide.
Tim, who is a member of MultiSensory Energy Array (MESA), a local paranormal group, first investigated the Willard Library in 2000. His most chilling experience happened in the children’s room. He heard a sound that sounded like a nail being pulled out of a piece of wood. Simultaneously, he smelled the strong scent of sandalwood incense. His paranormal team attempted to debunk the sound and scent, but couldn’t find any explanation for it. He also experienced water turning on by itself in the bathroom.
Tim says the real haunting occurs at the site of the old Carpenter residence, which is now owned by WNIN TriState Pubic Media. He has investigated the building numerous times and experienced paranormal activity.
“A woman was walking back and forth in front of a doorway. She was even casting a shadow into the hallway. We walked in to look, but there wasn’t a soul there,” Bill said.
What about the Lady in Grey? Does she still haunt the library?
Tim believes the Lady in Grey left the library when the lead librarian, Margaret Maier, died. Perhaps the two left the library together, leaving behind a legacy of curiosity.
Many believe the library is still haunted. Reports of a boy named Billy still haunts the children’s room. Want to see for yourself? Visit the library’s web site and follow the links to the library cams.