Who’s to Boo?

Since 1885, Willard Library has been a historic staple in Evansville. Throughout the decades, stories beyond the books began circulating the library, which stands stark and heavy off First Avenue. And as crude-faced Jack-o’-lanterns glow on porches and costumes are stitched, Halloween becomes a time when monsters, ninjas, turtles, and vanguards roam the streets. October creates an aura of mystery and intrigue, the perfect opportunity to look back at history.

“The first sighting of the Grey Lady was in 1937,” says Betty Palmer, assistant librarian at Willard Library. The library’s haunting lady has quite a dossier for a ghost, considering no one knows whose spirit it is. “A lot of people assume it’s Louise Carpenter,” Palmer says. Louise was the daughter of Willard Carpenter, the library’s founder. “But she didn’t die here, so the truth is that no one knows.”

One story goes that while the children’s section of the library was being remodeled in the ’80s, the Grey Lady followed Margaret Mier, a librarian of 50 years, home during the reconstruction. “She hasn’t been spotted by the Willard staff since 1997, the same year we started giving ghost tours every October,” Palmer says. “But it’s not like a haunted house. We take groups around to the different places the Grey Lady has been sighted and share stories.”

Since the ’30s, the Grey Lady has raised eyebrows, and even made an appearance on the Discovery Channel and science fiction paranormal shows. The specter made the web at www.LibraryGhost.com, where enthusiasts can view live snapshots of ghost hotspots in the library.

The Grey Lady isn’t the only apparition raising hairs this Halloween. Historic Newburgh’s Ghost Walks present a trek through time, highlighting the panic and horror of Newburgh’s past. Two walks are offered; the Water Street tour delves into mining and river lore, mysteries, and the Underground Railroad, while the State Street tour takes the route of history, strife, and the Civil War’s bloody past. Coinciding with the guided excursions is a “No Walking Just Talking Tour,” for those wishing to hear the historic ghost stories.

Halloween is ripe for primal exploits of the soul, so open your doors — or bolt them — and experience the other side of life.

➤ Grey Lady Ghost Tour
Oct. 18-20, 25-27, 29. Willard Library, 21 First Ave. Tours typically last 30-45 minutes; reserve your free spot online at www.willard.lib.in.us or call 812-425-4309 for more information.

➤ Ghost Walks
Oct. 19-21. Starts at Preservation Hall, 200 State St., Newburgh, Ind. Tours typically last one hour; buy advance tickets ($7 adults, $4 children) now by calling 812-853-2815. The “No Walking Just Talking Tour” is Sunday, Oct. 21, from 2-3:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person.

➤ Scary Stories
Oct. 20. Old Lock and Dam building, Newburgh, Ind. Enjoy ghost stories and tales shared by the Rivertown Storytellers after the Ghost Walks for an additional $2. 7:30-9:30 p.m.

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