LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Earlier this decade, a historic Lafayette orphanage and nursing home was demolished. Some say it wasn't just the building that went away, but the ghosts that haunted it too.
News 18 This Morning's Haunted Lafayette series begins Monday with the story of the Pythian Home. The following is an excerpt from Dorothy Salvo Davis and W.C. Madden's book "Haunted Lafayette."
"Back in 1926 construction was started on an elaborate structure in Lafayette. The Knights of Pythias built a large building on the south side to house orphans and lodge members. For a decade, the orphanage served them well. Later, it became a nursing home for the general public. While it was a nursing home, several people died within the structure. The Will County Ghost Hunters Society said there were ghosts seen and voices, footsteps, cries and moans heard there. Perhaps those cries came from the ghosts of the former patients there. The nursing home met its demise in the early 1990s, and the building was sold to the Lafayette School Corporation. The corporation allowed the First Edition, a club of the Jefferson High School Music Department, to use the facility as a haunted mansion into the late 1990s and into the new century. According to one website, a Purdue student, who was working one night at the mansion by himself, heard three different screams and then a pounding noise within the elevator. He knew that no one else was in the building. The more he tried to ignore the sounds, the louder the pounding got. Then the noise suddenly stopped, and the elevator door opened. No one was inside, or at least no one human. Then the Indiana Ghost Trackers made a visit to the place for a couple of days and witnessed ghosts themselves. The group was able to obtain several voice recordings, photographs of orbs and energy readings. When a couple of workers got sick after cleaning up bird droppings there, use of the haunted mansion was halted indefinitely. Other past workers at the home said that things would get moved around, and the lights would go on and off sometimes."
The story of the Pythian Home doesn't end there. In October of 2011, the Lafayette School Corporation tore down the structure. The school district spent $680,000 to bring it down. Today, all that sits on the empty lot is a few light structures and an old flagpole.
At the time, Superintendent Ed Eiler told News 18 the upkeep became too much and the building couldn't be used for school purposes.
"It's the destruction of something which really has come character," said Eiler in a 2011 interview with News Channel 18. "It's not only the building, but also the setting that gives it a unique landmark quality. Unfortunately, the cost of doing anything to renovate it, trying to bring it up to code, and the condition of the building was such that it just wasn't feasible."
Eiler said at the time that the district planned to expand Jeff High school and use the property to do so. Current principal Mark Preston said right now, outside of the occasional athletic team practicing on the open field, there are no immediate plans for the space.
Haunted Lafayette continues Tuesday as W.C. Madden tell us the story of Hangar 1 at the Purdue Airport, and how it has a special tie to one of the greatest aviation mysteries of our time.
Watch last year's stories below: