Investigators claim ghosts haunt Gurnee house
Mysterious, jagged streaks of light appear in some photos of the Mother Rudd Home.
In others, images of the 170-year-old Gurnee residence appear blurred while the next shot taken in the same spot comes out clear.
In a recording taken inside the home, listeners can hear a sigh. In another, a voice whispers, "I love the floors." But no one can see or knows who is speaking.
These and other unexplained occurrences surrounding the 19th-century Mother Rudd Home are evidence that spirits may exist within, said Tony Olszewski, the founder and lead investigator of the McHenry County Paranormal Research Group.
"You may believe us. You may not believe what you see here," he said. "We present our evidence to you and you make your own informed decision. We don't influence anybody."
Earlier this year, Olszewski and his group investigated the home for evidence of paranormal activity at the request of the Warren Township Historical Society. He shared his findings before a full room at the Gurnee home Wednesday night.
Tom Mellen, president of the historical society, said there were gentle hints within the home that there may be ghostly activity. After learning of Olszewski's work, the historical society invited him to Gurnee.
"It makes at least some people think that there are a lot of things we don't know, whether there is a spirit staying in this house. We believe there is," Mellen said.
Clarifying that they are not ghost hunters, Olszewski said the 12-member group investigates private homes and public places to help.
"We do it for the sheer joy of being able to help people and help the spirits," he said.
What makes the group unique, Olszewski said, is they correlate scientific data and personal observations. Among the equipment they use is a "ghost meter" that detects electromagnetic readings and a digital temperature gauge. Researching the Mother Rudd Home, Olszewski said they found no paranormal resistance.
"The house itself welcomed us with open arms," he said. "We sensed absolutely nothing negative in the house."
The two-story frame house, which sits along Old Grand Avenue, was built in 1841 as an inn and is among the oldest buildings in Lake County. It later was used as a stage coach stop and acted as a town hall, a voting place, post office and dance hall. In 1987, the village of Gurnee began restoration of the Mother Rudd Home, and in 1991, the home was turned over to the Warren Township Historical Society to be transformed into a museum.
Olszewski shared about 146 of over 1,200 photos taken using 10 different cameras. The images, he said, show anomalies with the house, such as what he called luminous orbs that appear in different shapes or streaks of light.
Sharing one photo that showed part of an image blurred and the second image taken quickly that is completely clear shows an anomaly in the room.
"I know what it isn't, and it isn't a normal life source," he said.
Olszewski said one thing the historical society holds sacred and proud is the re-mortared barn foundation behind the house that is believed to have been a station of the Underground Railroad. Within the barn, they detected energy that is fear, hope and warmth, which at first confused them.
"We came to the conclusion that ... we believe (it's) what a runaway slave would feel: fear, hope, comfort -- even though it's short-term -- and anticipation," he said.