Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Linda Foster points out what some people think are images in the mirror.
Ghost tours usually are more about the stories you hear than the sights you see.

But the Spirits of La Grange ghost tours are different: Attendees are guaranteed to see at least one ghost on every tour.

Linda Foster stands before her tall, Victorian mirror in the foyer of her home, but the woman staring back at her is not her reflection.

Foster’s home, on Washington Street, is one of  several that people visited as part of La Grange’s 12-block ghost tour.

And for this stop, Foster is the guide.

Using a long, black rod, Foster points at black markings seen on the mirror.

“There is a figure in the mirror,” said Foster, 64, dressed in Victorian garb for effect. “It is nothing but the silver coming off the back of the mirror ... but it’s (shaped like) a person.”

She points to the outline of a broad-rimmed hat, a veil, the face, the shoulders.

“You can clearly see the lapels,” she said, pointing to a line running down the center of the figure’s chest. “There’s the sway of the skirt.”

Foster has opened her home up to the tours since they started in 2003, and since then paranormal investigators have visited her home, telling her more about the antique mirror.

She knew that it was made in the early 1900s and came from the old American Red Cross building in downtown Louisville. The home’s previous owner had brought it into the home.

The investigators had more news for her: The mirror could be a portal to “the other side.”

And the figure in the mirror? A Victorian woman who had worked with the Red Cross perhaps, she said. Her clothing seems to match that time period.

Foster’s visitors have seen other images in the mirror, including crosses, the face of the home’s previous owner and the faces of children, she said.

“I’m not scared,” Foster said. “I’m interested.”

The paranormal experts, who brought in a psychic on their last visit, told her that the ghosts do not mean her harm, she said.

“While they are always in here, they want to be here,” she said.

The psychic toured her home and saw figures in many of the rooms, highlighting different points in the home’s history, she said.

She saw the home’s original owners, William T. Barbour and his wife, in the formal sitting room, looking out into the fields through the back windows, she said.

In 1827, Barbour was appointed La Grange’s first surveyor and was charged with laying the town out into lots and streets.

Foster has found mentions of her home going back to 1828.

“It’s probably not the oldest building in La Grange,” said Nancy Stearns Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County Historical Society, but there are very few that are older.

In the 19th century, the home served as the girl’s dormitory to the Funk Seminary, a school and college that originally was founded in La Grange by the Freemasons, Foster and Theiss said.

The clairvoyant saw a group of girls playing on the stairs in the foyer, which looked to be from the same time as the dormitory, Foster said.

“They were happy, laughing, playing,” she said.

More than anything, the tours have more to do with history than with ghosts, Theiss added.

“This tour is very accurate in terms of the history,” she said. “Whether you believe in ghosts or not is secondary.”

The psychic also saw a man in a fedora leaving the home and coming back in; the man’s wife stood on the stair’s landing waving her husband goodbye and welcoming him home, Foster said.

A woman the psychic said was named Mable was also found working busily in a back room in the home, she said.

Foster doesn’t know who these people were but is comforted, in a “I am never scared in here,” she said. “It’s a happy place.”

Soon she will welcome in a house full of guests and re-tell these tales, among others.

“It’s always interesting to hear the experiences that they (visitors) have had in the past with paranormal activity,” she said, “or something that they may have experienced during the tours.”
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