Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 32

HAUNTED IN THE OZARKS I Castle lets guests experience the unexplained by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop n front of 40 tourists, Cindy Shipley twirls around a World War II-era rocking chair to big band music filling the dimly lit ballroom. The self-proclaimed "big chicken" is trying to get the attention of the spirits that used to pack into this room inside a century-old castle on Friday nights in the '40s and '50s. "We call them triggers," she says. "They hear a song from their time period and they pop up. I tell people to dance. Give it a shot. It stirs them up." A guest captures a photo on her phone showing an orb floating near the chair and the rest of the group huddles around to see. Cindy knows she has the group's attention. "They can listen to me talk about it or look at the pictures I show, but to be in a room when one of their fellow tour guests gets something, that's exciting." Cindy is the "ghost host" at the history-laden Pythian Castle in Springfield. Built in 1913, the structure has served many functions. Today, the castle is open for tours and special events with the nighttime ghost tours being the most popular. Tamara Finocchiaro and her mother, M.J. Page, own, operate and live in the castle they bought in 2003. The structure was opened to the public for the first time ever in 2010. "It was primarily supposed to be an events facility. People started wanting to come through it so we offered history tours," Tamera says as she starts to smile. "We had no idea it was haunted. Some of us found out the hard way." During their initial renovation, Tamera says she was working in the lobby when she heard a voice nearby speak to her. She was alone in the nearly 40,000-square-foot castle. "Then some of the people who worked here for 13 years before we bought it came by," she says. "They asked: 'So you work here now? Have you met the ghosts?' Apparently they've been lingering here long before any of us. They're quite the fixture." Cindy starts tours by telling guests the fascinating history of the castle so they can better understand the spirits which remain. The castle was built in 1913 by the Knights of 32 RURAL MISSOURI | OCTOBER 2016 Pythias as a home for children and senior citizens. senior citizens would have gone to church. Next, When a member of the fraternal organization passed comes the POW cells and the dungeon room where away at a young age, his children could be raised at Cindy explains what each room was used for in the the castle. "It wasn't a fancy castle; it had a modest past. Near the end of the tour is a room where the use," Tamera says. "It wasn't made for rich folks. It officers had a bowling alley and would have spent nights playing poker and smoking. Visitors have was built for children and senior citizens." The U.S. government occupied the castle in 1942 reported smelling the strong and distinct aroma of due to its proximity to a hospital and renamed it cigarette smoke while in this room. Guests are encouraged to take photos on The Enlisted Men's Service Club. the tour to try and capture something. "I love It was used to serve and entertain watching the people on the tours," Cindy says. injured troops. It served many "You can see on their faces when they have purposes from hosting USO acts like an experience or something happens they Bob Hope in the theater to holding and interrogating prisoners of war to don't understand. They make a beeline for the toe-tapping Friday night dances in me and do this overly explanatory thing Springfield as they try and put it together." the ballroom. The government left the property in Cindy's first visit to the castle was 1980 and leased it to a social service on Halloween a few years ago. She agency before selling it as surplus in wanted to do something spooky - 1992. "I was kind of a hesitant historian," Tamara which is out of character for her - and says. "I wasn't too interested in all that at first. But enlisted friends and family to go to a late-night ghost this place is fascinating, interesting and different. tour. At the end of the tour in the boy's dormitory, Everyone gets enveloped in this building's past." she was taking pictures in the corner when she heard After the history lesson, Cindy weaves the tour a child's voice say "hello." Not only did her entire through three floors of the building. Guests take the group hear the noise, so did a lady behind them who long, narrow and dark walk down the steam tunnel. responded thinking the voice was Cindy's. Electronic voice phenomenon recordings are played "There weren't any kids on the tour," says Cindy. while sitting in the theater where the boys, girls and "That lady realized what happened and she couldn't have been out of here faster. I felt honored. It makes me feel like I was drawn here." Nighttime ghost tours last approximately 90 minutes and cost $15 when pre-purchased online and $1 more at the door. Tours are on Tuesdays and Fridays with some Saturdays and every day the week of Halloween. A full schedule is posted on the castle's website. Daytime ghost tours, history tours and ghost investigations also are available. Cindy says they get tour guests who are anxious to see or hear something as well as those who are full of skepticism as they approach the castle. She has a simple response to all who visit. "We can't promise you will have an experience," she says with Top: The Pythian Castle hosts events and operates many tours, a wry smile. "But we can't promise you won't." including the popular nighttime ghost tours. Above: Owner For more information on the Pythian Castle, visit Tamara Finocchiaro talks with guests before walking to the www.pythiancastle.com or call 417-865-1464. steam tunnel during a ghost tour. http://www.pythiancastle.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2016

Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 8
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 9
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 10
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 11
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 12
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 13
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 14
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 15
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 16
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 17
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 18
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 19
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 20
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 21
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 22
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 23
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 24
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 25
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 26
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 27
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 28
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 29
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 30
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 31
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 32
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 33
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 34
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 35
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 36
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 37
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 38
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 39
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 40
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 41
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 42
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover4
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