Haunted or NOT: Do you advertise the Haint?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO

Sherwood-Minton House in Cape Girardeau MOWhile we were taking photos, I even joked about the supposed ghost, referring to the resident Haint or Haints. My associate, a highly-educated, intelligent woman, cast a scornful look at me, "You summons them when you talk about them!"

"Oh, OKAY!"  I said, somewhat sarcastically. "You mean that you believe the stories?"

 

"It's possible," she said as she walked away, dismissing the subject.

Known as the Sherwood-Minton house, the property dates back to 1846, and it has long been rumored to be haunted. Built as a private residence, it has been used as a school, a dorm, a smallpox hospital, a stop on the underground railroad, and a Civil War soldier hospital. It also has sat vacant for long stretches of time on more than one occasion throughout its history.

Now it is on the market following foreclosure. The tenant opted to move out when I offered her cash for keys, not because she had any fear of the house that she loved, but because she had just graduated from college and would be moving in the fall anyway. During the three times I met her, however, she claimed that she had encountered the spirits that inhabit the old house. The tenant had actually been trying to purchase the house in a short sale, though she had become over-whelmed with the numerous repair issues.

After we finished taking photos on the main level, we proceeded upstairs. Part of my chore that day was to take photos of all repair items in the now vacant house, and that was, indeed, a chore. While we were upstairs, a beeping sound started coming from somewhere below us. We looked out windows on all sides, expecting to see a truck or equipment of some sort backing up. Nothing, so we went back downstairs to see if we could find the source. The noise was coming from the timer on the oven, located just feet from where I had earlier been joking about the supposed ghosts.  My associate quickly turned off the timer.

The day the house was listed, another agent called me immediately to say that she had an interested buyer. "It's haunted, you know," she said confidently.

"Yes, I have heard that," I responded, remembering our own experience with the beeper. 

We had not yet installed the electronic lockbox, so I dispatched my associate to put one on the house several days after our first outing. The beep-beep of the timer greeted her once again. This time, she went to the basement and loosened the fuse that controls the oven.

I'm thinking that a ghost who can work an oven timer can also screw in a fuse. What do you think? I, for one, am probably going to be a believer at that point!

More about the Sherwood-Minton listing HERE.

 

UPDATE (HOUSE HAS SOLD): In fact, when the house was listed two years ago, the listing agent used the ghost angle as a marketing tool. It was during that listing that paranormal investigators were brought in to do some testing. Their conclusion, BTW, was that the house does have spirits. The fact that it was October didn't hurt the mystique of such a ruling, and the local newspaper did stories on it.  See two of the stories HERE and HERE. One former owner even held what they called a Community Fair last spring to try to raise money for restoration. A Southeast Missourian story from 1972 is HERE, and another one from 1975 is HERE. Ken Steinhoff did a feature on his webpage, Cape Central High School HEREKatherine Webster presents evidence in her blog that at least one ghost story is untrue HERE

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If you are looking for a foreclosure in Cape Girardeau, Perry, N. Scott, or Bollinger counties, I am the region's most experienced REO agent. As the area's ONLY Fannie Mae direct listing agent, I list more foreclosure properties than any other agent in this MLS. I am among the few local agents approved to both list and sell HUD properties. Give me a call if you are looking for help with the purchase of a foreclosure property.

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Rainer
123,014
Emily Read
Salt Lake City, UT

Oh wow Liz - that would scare the pants off of me. I would have been out of that house in 0 seconds flat. I don't do ghosts. :)

Jun 06, 2011 01:42 AM #6
Rainer
68,804
Robert Courtney
Lihue, HI
Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS

If a person was actually using this timer would it shut itself off after a certain amount of time?  Does the timer go on at the same time during the day?  Just some thoughts!  

Jun 06, 2011 01:45 AM #7
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Emily~ I was glad that I wasn't alone. Imagine my poor associate when she went to put on the electronic box! I can't believe she went all the way to the basement by herself--the basement, BTW, which contains the entryway to a collapsed tunnel that was supposedly the access to the underground railroad.

Jun 06, 2011 01:49 AM #8
Rainer
234,262
Doug Bullwinkel
Vitek Mortgage Group - Roseville, CA
NMLS #281609

I think that there is much we don't know nor understand in this world of ours, so it's possible there are ghosts floating around out there.  Maybe they're good, maybe evil or just some lost souls.  I doubt if I would choose to live in a house with them. I have enough ghosts of my own to deal with. 

Jun 06, 2011 01:50 AM #9
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Robert~ I don't know if a timer would shut itself off and then come on again. Our two encounters with the timer were at different times of the day. Anyway, it's off now.

Jun 06, 2011 01:52 AM #10
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Doug~ An old house is full of drafty spots and creaky noises, and I tend to believe that is the source of many rumors. That does not discount the fact, however, that there is much we don't know.

There have been several newspaper articles written about this house, and para-normal investigators even visited it a few years back.

Jun 06, 2011 02:03 AM #11
Rainer
18,424
Rick E. Dunham, MBA
Keller Williams Realty - Atlanta, GA

Hi Liz,

Wow!  You have a very interesting listing!  The picture of your property even has that Amityville Horror look; just curve the two upstairs, outer-most windows!

I do not believe in ghosts but the mere fact that I don't believe in ghosts does not mean that ghosts do not exist.  In Georgia, agents and sellers are required to disclose all material facts regarding a property that may affect the buyer's decision.  Now, speaking as a buyer, whether or not a property is haunted or allegedly haunted would definitely affect my buying decision.  I would be livid if I invested several thousands of dollars into a property and unexplained phenomena existed that other key individuals did not share that information with me.  

I would recommend taking the ethical high-road and disclose.  Just because a decision is legal, that does not mean it is ethical.  Given the known steep and interesting history entrenched within your property, ghosts could very possibly add to its unique character and appeal!

Lastly, I admire any agent who is willing to list a property that serves as a home to a ghost who can operate an oven timer.  Some of us would run, leaving our electronic box, signs and everything else behind!!...lol... Please let us know how this works out.  Thanks and good luck!

Rick E. Dunham 

Jun 06, 2011 02:54 AM #12
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Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Oh, what a cool house! I hope someone comes along and restores it. I took a look at the listing and just loved the house! I can see so much more than what it has become.

Oh, and the whole haunted thing, yes, I believe!!!

Jun 06, 2011 07:16 AM #13
Rainmaker
825,833
Richard Weeks
Waller Group - Dallas, TX
Realtor, Associate Broker - Manager Business Development

What an interesting story.  Guess most people in the area know the history of the house.  Think I would disclose it anyway.

Jun 06, 2011 07:42 AM #14
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Rick~ Speaking of windows, that is one of the problems with the house, actually. This house should surely be on the national historic registry, but the windows were replaced recently--a fact that significantly compromises the authenticity of the property.

In any other house, that oven timer incident would simply have been considered a mechanical oddity, but the history of this house may throw a different spin on it. Ghost or no ghost, I'd hate to have a buyer in there be miserable, because they chalk up every "odditiy" to a ghost (real or imagined).

I am seriously torn about the disclosure. This is a Fannie Mae property which is listed AS IS, and they do not do disclosures. That really leaves me in a bind. The ethical high road is doing that which represents MY client best under the law.

How to market the house is another matter, though. Is the property more attractive with its colorful history and rumored spirits? I kind of think so, and I'm thinking about tweeking the MLS description based on that.

Jun 06, 2011 10:57 AM #15
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Andrea~ Certainly, to people who believe, the "haunted" issue is significant. I do hope that whoever buys it does so in order to restore it and not merely remodel it (see my answer to Rick above). The bricks in the house appear to be handmade and are deteriorating, downright crumbly in some places. Many of the interior doorways have been altered, and the windows have been replaced. Some of those modifications create problems for the true preservationist. HVAC, wiring, and plumbing througout the house are MAJOR issues.

Having said all that, though, this IS a neat house!Sherwood-Minton House in Cape Girardeau MO

Jun 06, 2011 11:10 AM #16
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Richard~ That is probably true. In fact, when the house was listed two years ago, the listing agent used that as a marketing tool. It was during that listing that the paranormal investigators were brought in to do some testing. Their conclusion, BTW, was that the house does have spirits. The fact that it was October didn't hurt the mystique of such a ruling, and the local newspaper did stories on it.  See two of the stories HERE and HERE. The former owner even held what they called a Community Fair last spring to try to raise money for restoration. I will go back to my main post and add those links, so pardon the repetition.

Jun 06, 2011 11:34 AM #17
Rainmaker
127,822
Craig Snead
Quality Home Investments, LLC / Dearborn Heights, MI - Dearborn Heights, MI
Real Estate Investor

Liz, a very unique home. Something that you can't hide so you might a s well flaunt it. That may weed out the "lookers" and hopefully attract the serious buyers.

Jun 07, 2011 11:14 AM #18
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Judi K Barrett
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma - Idabel, OK
Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB

Sounds like you have a haunted house for sale!  Too bad it's not October.. you could have open house on Halloween...:)

Jun 07, 2011 10:10 PM #19
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Craig~ That's a good point. Right now, though, I've heard from several "lookers" who just want to see it. There has been some serious interest, and I have two offers right now.

Jun 07, 2011 10:28 PM #20
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Judi~ In fact, it was on market during October of 2010, and the listing agent did have an open house that weekend. I thought about holding it open this weekend, but the truth is that I am afraid too many "lookers" might show up; and going to the basement, especially, requires caution. Since the supposed tunnel is there, the basement is where many lookers want to go. Unless the basement is shut off, I need a controlled circumstance when the house is being shown. I also want to protect the property as much as possible. I certainly don't want people picking at the brickwork to see how hard or soft it is.

Jun 07, 2011 10:34 PM #21
Anonymous
Anonymous
Curious

Hi Liz, I was wondering if there are more pics of the inside of the house? I tried looking on house view but I do not show it listed on there either.

Sep 26, 2011 05:33 PM #22
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Curious~ The property is sold. You can still find some interior photos, however, if you follow the links in the blog above.

 

More about the Sherwood-Minton listing HERE.

Sep 26, 2011 05:38 PM #23
Anonymous
Anonymous
Chris Kinder

Hi Liz!

I am absolutely in love with this house and have been for years.  Were it not for my wife refusing to share living space with the ghosts, we would be making an offer.  

I am currently a graduate student in the history department at SEMO.  I graduated with a bs in Historic Preservation and I have done quite a bit of research on the house.  You are fairly accurate in your description of its history, but I did want to correct one thing.  The home was not, nor is their any evidence to suggest, that the home was used as part of the underground railroad.  In fact its builder, Mr. Sherwood was a southern sympathizer.  The gentleman who owned it at the start of the war was actually an ediotor of a southern leaning newspaper.  Neither of these men were interested in hiding runaway slaves, it is merely folklore, just like the hidden tunnel, which is probably where the undergraound railroad story came from.

There is so much history to this home and it deserves to be restored and treasured.  I hope that whoever purchases the home is aware of this.  The ghosts aren't a bad selling point either, I am a firm believer having been involved with several historic homes.

PS:  Did you notice the spur marks on the stairs, they were put there by the soldiers who occupied it during the war...its my favorite feature!

Nov 01, 2012 12:03 PM #24
Rainmaker
263,634
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Thanks, Chris. The info about underground railroad and the tunnel came from the sources I cited in the post. I have no actual knowledge of either statement; but when I had the house listed, there was a dug-out area in the basement. I do not know whether or not it was a caved-in tunnel, but I do know that water poured out of it during heavy rains (so I'm guessing it goes somewhere). Following one rain, the mostly dry basement had about three feet of water in it.

The house as it exists now is smaller than it was during some of its history, but I believe that what remains is the original structure. The additions (one of which extended over what is now N. Middle) have all been razed.

Nov 01, 2012 03:59 PM #25
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