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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Night in the Pythian Castle

Location: Pythian Castle; Springfield, MO
Date: March 21, 2011

Built in 1913 by the Knights of Pythias as an orphanage and refuge for the families of members who passed away, the Pythian Castle was purchased by the US Military in the 1940s and used as a private club for servicemen.  The building was left to ruin for years, and only since the mid-1990s has it been restored to resemble its original glory. The castle is rich in history, and since its current owners have moved in, they’ve also found that it is rich in hauntings.

When we heard about the castle from a friend, we knew we had to set up an investigation. The claims range from male and female voices to full body apparitions, and the resident spirits include a young boy named Petey, a German prisoner of war, and many others who once lived or died in the building. On our roughly 6 hour visit we were fortunate to capture evidence of at least a couple of these spirits.

While touring the building, I actually found some of our most interesting photographic evidence: what appears to be a face in an orb. Orbs are not an uncommon occurrence in haunted places, this one was certainly unique. The owners of the castle actually said they had seen similar orbs before, so perhaps that is how one of the resident spirits manifests itself. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we also captured another photographic anomaly during the tour in the form of a face in a window. Much later in the evening I discovered the photo and tried multiple times to reproduce it, but with no success. A male face is visible in the upper corner of the window, covering the normal lines in the bricks behind him.

Zoomed in view of the orb.

Circled in green is what appears to be a face.
A zoomed in view of the "face" in the window
After setting up our equipment, we started our investigation around 9:30pm. For the first part of the investigation, my dad, Don, decided to go visit Petey in his favorite room of the building, a large not-yet-refurbished suite on the second floor, while my mom and I explored the first floor and Mitch, Samantha, and John went down to the boiler room and steam tunnel. During that first hour or so the most unique experience by far occurred in the boiler room. Mitch went to check out the steam tunnel while Samantha and John stayed in the boiler room. As they were standing there taking photos and talking, they heard several unexplained footsteps walking at a steady pace. While they tried to determine where the noises were coming from, the footsteps sped up and seemed to rush towards them before disappearing, prompting both John and Samantha to jump backwards.

A little later on in the night, John and I decided to go down to the “dungeon,” a concrete room in the back of the basement where prisoners were believed to have been kept, and a German gentleman is believed to reside now. While we were down there we decided to try to play a little game with our Maglite flashlight, which had yielded interesting results for us on our last investigation at Powhatan Courthouse. Although we did not have a video camera with us at the time, the flashlight did turn on and off at least three times on its own. More importantly, though, our audio recorder picked up a very interesting EVP at the same time. While John and I were discussing the flashlight, a male voice says, “ja ja ja,” which I discovered means “yes, yes, yes” in German. It seems more than a mere coincidence that we would pick up German words in the one room of the castle were a German prisoner was known to have been held.

The other primary source of activity in the castle was Petey’s room on the second floor. When my dad first visited the room he picked up some strange sounds on the audio recorder that we couldn’t determine the source of. Some of us thought it was the floor squeaking and others thought it sounded like a child’s voice. What were more interesting still, though, were the results we obtained with our flashlights. While this method may seem unconventional, it has worked well for us, especially given the type of flashlights, which have to be twisted on and off. On our first visit to the room John and I tried this since it had worked in the basement, and found that Petey seemed enthused with the flashlight. While we couldn’t get him to play with the many toys people had left in the room for him, he seemed to enjoy turning the light on and off in strange sequences. On our first visit we relied on our new infrared cameras to capture the scene, but without a monitor we weren’t sure if we were capturing what we intended to. Mitch and Samantha experienced the same thing when they visited the room, so John and I decided to return later with our handheld digital camera to ensure we had the experience recorded. The video is featured below, showing how the flashlight, when placed alone on the floor, turns on and off multiple times at different degrees of brightness and at different paces.  

Overall our investigation left us with a good deal of evidence, but even more questions. We will always be left to wonder what those photos really show, what lurks in the boiler room, and what grabbed my mom’s foot as she came down the stairs at the end of our investigation. Maybe some of the spirits at Pythian Castle didn’t want us to leave…? Well, they can rest assured that they certainly made us want to return.


Here's the video of Petey and the flashlight.

Here is the EVP of the German soldier we captured in the dungeon that night:

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