The Grey Lady of Willard Library
October 31, 2003 2:50 AM   Subscribe

"On a cold winter morning in 1937, a janitor grabbed his flashlight and headed down into the pitch-black basement of the Willard Library to stoke the coal furnace." And so begins the legend of the "Lady in Grey," an apparition said to be haunting the aisles of the Evansville, Indiana building to this very day. In fact, so many have been said to have seen her, and other ghosts, that the library has set up 24-hour online web cams so that others may try their hand at spectre spotting. Whether real or not, the cams have revealed some interesting, yet creepy pictures and, some rather silly spoofs.
posted by snarkywench (23 comments total)
I was sitting here sneering at all the invisible smudges people circled, laughing at how they were writing things like "I see a woman! She's bending over to pick a book off the shelves! I think it's Dostoevsky!"
But then I looked at the "creepy" link and got a little freaked out. What IS that? (The moving box on the floor isn't so weird, clearly someone had been in there because other stuff has been removed from the room.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:47 AM on October 31, 2003

the pics of her sitting in the same chair really are i'm ready for halloween--and shivering a little
posted by amberglow at 5:01 AM on October 31, 2003

I agree -- the picture under the 'creepy' link makes me shiver. There is just something about it that isn't right... especially as it looks like it could be this thing from the back -- which is clearly some kind of freakish hobgoblin. ;-)
posted by catchmurray at 5:16 AM on October 31, 2003

the picture under the 'creepy' link

A lot of these sightings look more like artifacts of digital compresson.
posted by piskycritter at 5:57 AM on October 31, 2003

Why aren't ghost naked, our clothes die too?
posted by thomcatspike at 6:07 AM on October 31, 2003

i think that ghosts either wear what they were wearing when they died, or something they wore at a pivotal moment in their life (or maybe what they were buried in?), thom...if the pictures were better, we would probably see a period outfit for the woman.
posted by amberglow at 6:11 AM on October 31, 2003

Maybe it's my monitor, but I didn't see anything in those library web cam pictures. Oh well.
posted by tommasz at 6:18 AM on October 31, 2003

probably see a period outfit for the woman
In his astonishment, he managed to bend down and pick up his flashlight, noticing that even her shoes were grey. One pic, for me her dress looked her era: long flowing.
posted by thomcatspike at 6:25 AM on October 31, 2003

When I was a kid there was an abandon house where the other kids said you could see the house-mother through the kitchen window at dinner time nearly every day. Of course we went to look, and sure enough, (with a hearty dose of childrens imagination) in that window you could see a stout lady cooking at dusk, wearing her housewife apron, as if she left her permanent imprint in the window. No other windows (which you could also see the stove from if you arched your head) showed her standing at the stove.
posted by dabitch at 6:31 AM on October 31, 2003

I haven't been able to get the creepy link load up yet, and nothing else is very convincing at all, although the spoof pictures made me laugh. Too bad really - I'd love to believe in ghosts but so far in my life they've been about as authentic as the ones in Scooby Doo.
posted by orange swan at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2003

Two of the ghost pics in the kids rooms seem to be circling a "hooded figure" to the left, but the shadow area that they circled shows up in every picture of that room.

As for this one that "ghost" looks like it is just a corporeal someone in drab, mottled color clothing walking into the stacks. They aren't see through, but the pattern and color of the shirt gives that impression. As for them vanishing when the picture refreshed a few seconds later, that is what happens when people are walking out of the frame.

<eye roll>

I am willing to believe in ghosts, and even this one, but I doubt that anything is going to show up on the cams other than what people are willing to see in fuzzy digital pics.
posted by kayjay at 7:19 AM on October 31, 2003

That reminds me, I wonder what happens to the library's copies of the New Tork Times. Does the Lady in Grey read the Grey Lady?
posted by kayjay at 7:22 AM on October 31, 2003

And if she does, will she go haunt Jayson Blair? The best part would be the way no one would believe he was being haunted.
posted by orange swan at 7:35 AM on October 31, 2003

I am from Evansville - and I used to go with my mother to Willard Library while she was doing research. While I haven't seen the Grey Lady herself, I have had some strange experiences there. She doesn't seem the type to pose for pics, though - and I doubt the NY Times would be her type of publication.
posted by jw161020 at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2003

Oooh, jw161020, please describe these "strange experiences".
posted by orange swan at 7:57 AM on October 31, 2003

I am also from E'ville, and have been to the library. No strange experiences to report. :-) Though it is cool to go to a completely privately owned/funded public library. Beautiful old building it is in as well.
posted by internal at 8:31 AM on October 31, 2003

The "creepy" links do take a while to load, but perserverance paid off and I at least got to see the first one, which I'll readily admit is pretty creepy, in a faceless, crawling, menacing, gray shape kind of way.

I'm glad it's 78 and sunny in NC today. *shiver*
posted by jennyb at 9:10 AM on October 31, 2003

Is it just me, or does the "creepy" link just look like some kid left their stuffed animal on the floor?
posted by majcher at 10:01 AM on October 31, 2003

One of my friends set up the webcams. The only thing he had to report was that it was dusty.
posted by moonbiter at 10:13 AM on October 31, 2003

I suspect the creepy thing is what ultimately covered the books on the bookshelf in the back. Probably a box, or a blanke. Also, given the large time lapses in the photos, and their time of day (3:00-5:00 on a friday afternoon) it certianly seems likely that something human moved that stuff around, rather than a ghost. Probably in the course of putting the black blanket (jacket? monkey suit) on top of the book case.

Sure does LOOK creepy tho....
posted by daver at 10:24 AM on October 31, 2003

Is it just me, or does the "creepy" link just look like some kid left their stuffed animal on the floor?

Or a jacket and a backpack.
posted by kayjay at 10:49 AM on October 31, 2003

Although interestingly my Princeton, IN, and currently Henderson, KY resident father has never mentioned any ghost tales about the Willard, he did take me as a kid growing up in Alabama to see the face in the window of the Pickens County courthouse. The face is clearly visible in the attic window where a black man accused of something vague but apparently sexual involving a married white woman, spent his last few minutes of life looking down on the lynch mob on the grounds. The sheriff trying to protect him and buy some time took him out of the jail and up to the top floor and told the mob that he wasn't there. The mob broke in anyway and lynched the man, but his face was forever imprinted on the window. Greene County (where I lived for a bit as a child) has a similar scarlet letter in that the spot directly under the branch of the giant oak that served as the gallows will grow no grass no matter what is tried, the spot always goes bare in a matter of days.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:52 AM on October 31, 2003

I grew up in Evansville, having moved away from there when I was 10, and I can't remember ever hearing about the lady of the library. But just to note there is an old mental hospital on the outskirts of town where used to hold a haunted house. I don't remember much other than being scared out of my mind when I was 4 years old and sliding down a chute from the 4th floor at the end of it. It was really creepy.
posted by daHIFI at 2:21 PM on October 31, 2003

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