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Open Vault > Vault Archives > Haunted Church Basement

Haunted Church Basement
SENT IN BY: "anonymous"
LOCATION: Oak Park, Illinois, USA

I wanted to share an experience I had when I was probably a junior or senior in high school, which would've been about 1986 or '87. I was asked by my dad to come to where he worked as a maintenance supervisor at a church in Oak Park, Illinois. This church is old by Chicago suburban standards. It was originally built in the late 1860's, but got struck by lightning in 1916 and burned down. A new church was built on top of the old church's foundations.

My dad said that they were cleaning out a storage area, and there was a big box of old magazines like "Life", "National Geographic", and "Look". He said that any I found interesting, I could take before they dumped the rest. So, we got there very early in the morning on a Saturday, before anyone else was there, and went downstairs to an area below the lobby of the church, but not as low as the basement, either. It was originally used as a lounge and restroom area until the late 60's, when more modern ones were built upstairs. These were still very much 1920's era, and in pretty bad shape since they'd been converted into storage rooms in the 1970's. Most of the decor, mirrors, and light fixtures had long since been removed. It was quite gloomy and dark, lit only by a couple of single light bulbs in each of the former lounge areas which were separated by a hall with stairs leading up to the lobby of the church.

The box of dusty, old-smelling magazines was on a table in what was once the "Gentleman's Lounge" (as a dirty tin sign read over the entry to the junk-filled room). I pulled up a folding chair, and my dad said he'd come back to get me in a couple hours when we were to leave and to have fun. I began going through the magazines in the dim light, and was soon deep into the old-fashioned ads, the dated terminology, and stories about long-dead movie stars.

I guess about half an hour or so had passed-I wasn't wearing a watch-when I sensed someone behind me (my back was facing the doorway) staring at me. I figured my dad had come back downstairs to tell me something. I turned around and no one was there. I got up and walked into the hall. No one. I ran up the stairs into the church lobby and called for my dad. Just my voice echoed back.

At that time I thought it was odd, and wondered how someone could be standing there one minute and gone the next. I was sure I could feel someone behind me. I walked back down into the storage room and started to sit down when I first felt something like air-conditioning blowing down on me. There was no air-conditioning down there, and it had been pretty stuffy up until that moment. I stood up and walked toward the door, and it felt as if the cold draft moved along with me.

At the same time, I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched, this time from behind though, of course, I was the only person there amidst the piles of boxes and accumulated junk. I got goosebumps, my heart was racing, and I could barely move; but I forced myself to turn and run into the hall, bound up the stairs and into the church, where I eventually found my dad coming in from outdoors where he'd been working in the church parking lot. I had been the only one in the building the entire time I was down in that room. He asked me what was wrong. I said nothing except that I was done in there and would hang with him until it was time to go! I've been down there once since, a few years ago, when my dad was showing me how the rooms had been remodeled and converted into Sunday School rooms. The area had a completely different feel. It was sunny, well-lit and clean, and unlike my last visit there.

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