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Casper by Terrie M. Scott

Terrie M ScottI wanted to share the origins of our involvement in the Rectory, per se, to a broader audience.

I am an avid history buff, decorated my home in Medieval to King Louis IV decor. My favorite place in the world is Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland. When I escape into my mind's eye? This is where I go.

I love historical buildings. It's not uncommon for those of us in our 40's to take an interest in preserving our past. Maybe it's just the age we reach. I know at 20, I wasn't driving around thinking to myself, "Gosh, we should save that building." I was too busy being 20.

I'm older now and have done a great deal of traveling here and overseas. I notice these things now. Once beautiful buildings from our past lying in ruin. What a shame. Marveling at the architectural wonder of them and saddened by their abandonment.

Midwest Preservation Society was formed by family and friends, working together, to try and save buildings like this. Our contribution to preserving our past. 

We would keep an eye on Craiglist for historic buildings that were available in hopes of restoring them. The Rectory was one of these buildings.

We were very reluctant to commit to it at first, not sure of the area. But, we saw the potential in this historic location. The church beside the Rectory was in ruins, not even safe to be in. The Rectory itself needed a lot of work. But, if you could look past the fallen ceilings and gaping holes, you could see the 120 plus year old woodwork waiting to be reborn. The ornate door hinges waiting to be appreciated.

Seemed like a major undertaking, but preservation is just that - preservation, restoration.

We knew it was going to be a labor of love in this community, but we decided to take a stand and save this one building. So commit to it we did.

I envisioned that one day, after neighborhood restoration at the hands of city planners, that the Rectory would be an Arts Center. My daughter is a professional ballroom dancer. The attic is massive and more than ample room for dance classes. I could hear music filtering through the Rectory halls as music lessons were conducted. Classes of all kinds, even recitals being held there. It was a nice vision.

In the beginning, we worked seven days a week renovating the property, stabilizing it. From midnight till dawn.

Little by little the building came to life.

The Rectory had sat empty for far too long. There was substantial damage in almost every single room from dogs... big dogs. Clawing their way out of closet doors, bathroom doors.

What the heck? I am founder of M.A.R.S. Safe Haven, a non profit animal rescue and welfare organization. As an animal rescuer, I could not comprehend what conditions would make animals cause such destruction of property and why were they inside closets? We found dog cages, dishes, hoses, collars in the basement. My mind didn't jump to "dog fighting." But, it was obvious that whoever houses these animals in the Rectory did not do so for the love of animals.

And, of my God... the stench. Months and months of cleaning, sanitizing to control the stench coming from the basement. Enough to make you gag and you definitely needed breathing masks if you ventured down there.

Even with everything I see on a daily basis working with severely abused and neglected animals, I didn't assume the worst at the Rectory, especially not in a building that once housed men of God.

Strange things were happening around us - - but we chose to ignore them and keep working. We lost volunteers because of the strange things that were happening, but it was too late for me. I had already fallen in love with the building.

The transformation was breathtaking. Feel free to scan over our photo gallery and look at the photos of this process. We hope you can appreciate all the hard work and love that has gone into restoring this building, thus far.

We had many wonderful individuals came to our assistance. An elderly couple from the West Chester area donated an upright piano that had been in their family for generations. Once a room was complete, the task of finding suitable furnishing from estate sales or thrift stores became a treasure hunt for a worthy cause.

My thoughts shifted from an Arts Center to, "Hey, I could actually live here." My furniture would fit nicely here. A perfect fit actually. What's not to love about the building?

That being said, my eldest daughter left home five years ago. It was a difficult life for us. Ours was not a happy home. My youngest moved out also. It was my turn to "escape." We were trying desperately to get out of a very bad situation.

I began to envision to Rectory as my "safe haven."

Unfortunately, it became apparent that this was not going to be the case. Too many I respect advised against me moving in there. Too many things unexplained were happening there and we had reached a point were we just didn't feel safe there.

Ironically, it was the neighborhood outside that had concerned me initially and then I became more frightened by whatever was happening inside the Rectory. Also, I became very concerned how my time spent at the Rectory was affecting me in my personal life, beyond the walls of the building.

Growing up I was the geek, the book worm, the brainiac. Even as a student at the College Conservatory of Music, my love of science never waned. Answers. Logic. Understanding the unexplainable things. I always took the healthy middle road... Not going to say I believed in ghosts, not going to say I don't. Not enough scientific information to prove one way or another.

I wasn't the sort of person that took a picture with my flash and thought the dust particles being reflected back were spirits of lost relatives. Dust. Just dust. Definitely a skeptic, the sort that had to experience it first hand and then disprove every possible explanation, debunk if you will... then and ONLY then was I willing to entertain the notion that it was something paranormal, which totally goes against the logic part of my brain.

I remember sitting in my parents Family Room, telling them about some of the odd things we have been experiencing. The smirk on my Dad's face. My reassuring him that, "I know, I know it sounds crazy." I too sat where he was... seeing is believing.

And, some days things felt perfectly normal. Other days would feel so foreboding that we would turn around and leave without doing any work at all. It was almost as if a door would swing open and close. Over and over again. No guarantees, no pattern, no predictors. No rhyme or reason.

We had been on other old buildings before, some far larger than the Rectory. None had affected us this way before. Something was "off" about this place. You've got that logic part of your brain in conflict with some unseen adversary.

The truly bizarre thing was... the more renovation work we did? The worse the activity became, which makes zero sense to me. We were trying to SAVE the building. How can that possibly be a bad thing?

We brought a Native American shaman and priest to bless the building? Well, things only seemed to make things worse, not better.

So much for my "safe haven."

When Tim was walking in front of me after finishing work for the day and was scratched badly on his back... well, talk about being thrown for a loop. I have no wish, nor any desire to transplant myself into a horror film. Pass me the popcorn and let's keep it at the theater.

Renovation work pretty much came to a screeching halt after that. When strange occurrences become physical manifestations and confrontations? An entirely new ball game.

I mean seriously, after all that hard work? All the time spent renovation the Rectory, some thing was attacking us now? I witnessed it, yet my own mind still denies it. How is that even possible??

Enters my Dad. 70 yr old Air Force veteran. I'm a military veteran too, but I served in the Army. After hearing this latest turn of events, my Dad jokingly says he'd like to go to the Rectory one day... to meet Casper.

Mom was totally against it. My Dad's health is not the best and not that my Mom is a believer, because she isn't, but she is intelligent enough to air on the side of caution and not want to put my dad in harm's way.

Finally, my Dad made it known that going to the Rectory and seeing for himself if ghost are real... was on his "bucket list." After my parents 50th wedding anniversary, we decided to oblige my father.

Dad being Dad walks into the Rectory saying, "Hello Casper."

Tim, myself and Mom sat in the Living Room after we took Dad downstairs into the basement and got him settled in a chair in the center of the room where the sinks are. He asked that he get to spend some time alone down there and talk to "Casper."

My Dad wasn't taking this seriously, but I can't blame him. Skepticism is healthy.

After about 30 minutes, Tim called downstairs and asked my Dad if he was okay. Dad replied that he was fine, stated that nothing was happening and said he wanted to come back upstairs. Tim went to help Dad get back up the stairs.

Dad seemed a bit disappointed that Casper didn't perform on demand. But, as he walked into the Living Room to join my mother and I, he began complaining about his back.

It was weird. The change in him was abrupt. He kept trying to reach his back where he said it was burning and hurting, but his arms couldn't reach far enough. He asked his Mom to help. She lifted up his shirt and he had scratches, in sets of three, covering the majority of his back.

My Mom and I just looked at each other? Mom told Dad. You could see him running through scenarios in his head as to how he can get his back scratched to hell while sitting in a chair, not moving.

I think I said, "Welcome to the Rectory, Dad." Dad's discomfort and the scratches on his back were the topic of conversation for quite some time.

I have NO idea what caused them. Nor do I have any clue what is behind the strange occurrences at the Rectory. It's conjecture. There is no exact science that can explain it or define it.

Remember that movie "Poltergeist" where the Mom is in the kitchen with her daughter on the chair, wearing a football helmet? Testing the movement of the chair over and over again, with glee. She didn't understand WHY it was happening only amazed that is WAS happening.

We just don't have the technology yet to get a clear understanding of things outside our normal understanding or rational thinking. I know I would love answers. I wish I had some magic tool that allowed me to see what scratched my Dad or Tim... I wish I could see what shoved me in the upstairs hallway. I wish I could see in physical form what growled in my face. I wish I could understand and comprehend the entire situation.

And, if something has followed us home? I would love the technology to catch it, identify it and deal with it accordingly. Until that time? It's still conjecture, hypotheticals, strange occurrences... or as it is also referred to "paranormal." Meanwhile, the motion detectors set up by the security company still keep going off. I watch the camera monitors and see... nothing. Disturbing and perplexing to say the least. Your guess is as good as mine.