Diana Lambdin Meyer
Conjuring up my best Cowardly Lion, I closed my eyes and whispered over and over, “I do believe in ghosts, I do believe in ghosts.”
The thing is, I don’t really believe in ghosts, but if I did, there would surely be no better place to find them than during a Paranormal Investigation Tour of the abandoned buildings of the former Odd Fellows Complex, now known as the Belvoir Winery, in Liberty. It's also now home to The Inn at Belvoir Winery, which serves both as a luxurious place to stay and an elegant setting for events.
I was told a positive attitude toward ghosts increases their willingness to appear, thus my Cowardly Lion incantation. At any rate, I love exploring history, and I'm always up for a good story.
A thunderstorm had just moved through, shrouding the dilapidated buildings with an unearthly mist as about 15 of us, flashlights in hand, left the warm, well-lit, fully renovated administration building to trudge into the unknown.
The Odd Fellows, a benevolent organization, operated an orphanage, hospital and old folks home here starting in 1900. During WWII, German POWs were housed in some of the buildings. Another was rented out by the state as an insane asylum.
By the early 1990s, the facility closed permanently. Vandals, along with Missouri weather and Mother Nature, have done their damage. Most windows are broken, and staircases have collapsed on themselves. Dust and debris cover abandoned wheelchairs.
Disconnected light bulbs swing by frayed wires from sagging ceilings. Trees and vines grow through windows and doorways. For those in search of a scary, unnerving place, it just doesn’t get any better than this.
Our first stop was a former underground storage facility and storm shelter. Through their frequent visits, Keith Ross and his team at Paranormal Research Investigators have become acquainted with the spirit of a child they call Matthew who often plays there.
Members of our group held K-II Electronic Magnetic Sensors, little devices that look like a TV remote control but have a variety of colored lights that flash when a ghost is nearby. Other devices help translate the energy of the spirits into words that we mere mortals might understand.
“Matthew, will you come out and play?” called one of the investigators.
The controls began to light up and noise blurted from the audio equipment. Matthew was in the room and, if the sounds were to be believed, he brought a friend named Mark.
After about 45 minutes, Matthew and his playmate moved on and the lights no longer flashed. We went on to the former nursing home to see if we could locate Dorothy, an elderly woman who often complains that she hasn’t received her medicine in days.
The investigation continued until 2 a.m. with visits to several other buildings, including the morgue. When it was all over, my friend Linda and I agreed that we loved learning about the history of the old buildings and appreciated the company of enthusiastic, engaging people.
Even after the investigation, neither of us believes in ghosts, but we do believe in trying new things, keeping an open mind and always having a good time.
In that sense, we accomplished our mission.