If you’ve ever been in the Elmwood-Allentown area you’ve probably seen the big red brick mansion on the southeast corner of North St. and Elmwood Ave. This Friday, Oct. 31st starting at 9pm the residents are hosting their annual Halloween party (which is also a fundraiser), with music by DJ Bootyhammer, Mink, Hooked on Casiophonics, DJ Jerome and a fire performance. Entry is $5 with a costume, $7 without.
Most people don’t know that it is the historic E.W. Granger mansion, built for the Granger family in 1886. Here are some other things you might not know about the building:
- Since 2001 it is home to the Nickel City Housing Cooperative, where approximately 14 people live collectively, and the house is known as “Ol’ Wondermoth”—an anagram of “Elmwood” and “North.” (There is a 2nd Nickel City Coop house called “Plankton” at Fargo Ave. & Jersey St.)
- There are quite a few traditions that are upheld at the house, such as weekly Wednesday potlucks stretching back almost 10 years (and still open to the community), Room Hop parties where residents travel from one theme-decorated room to another throughout the night, and epic Halloween parties every October.
- Many consider the house to be haunted.
On that last point: It has been a tradition for as long as anyone can remember that common food—food that is free for anyone to eat (as opposed to personal items which get labeled with people’s initials or nicknames)—is labeled “Ed” or “Ed’s,” a reference to the first and longest resident of the house, and the building’s namesake: Edmund W. Granger. For most people it was a kind of goofy, fun way to put food up for grabs while remembering the history of the house. It invokes a feeling that Ed is still around, in some form or another, and that the common food is his tribute. Some folks thought that his spirit remained in the house (where he also died), while others thought it was a gimmick.
Nickel City Alumni Victoria, who lived at Ol’ Wondermoth from 2009 to 2013, tells the story of the clairvoyant nun who shed some light on the spirit situation around 2012:
“It was when there was a priest a priest living in the house and the priest has a friend who was a nun, who was conveniently a clairvoyant. The nun came by one day and walked through the house… the story that I heard was that there were five spirits in Wondermoth. There is the ghost of Ed Granger, one of the most prominent spirits in the house. He was a very vain and arrogant man. Whenever there is a glass that breaks, specifically in the kitchen—which would happen in bouts where one day a bunch of glasses would break, fall off the shelf or whatever—its because he’s not feeling like he’s getting enough attention. It’s significant because of the whole institutional practice of calling thing’s ‘Ed’s…’”
—I explained that part of the story—
“…Right, so then… the second ghost that lives on the staircase I believe is Ed Granger’s mistress. And I think she was a maid, and his mistress. The third is a baby somewhere. The fourth is a lost war veteran, I think it’s World War One. Then there’s the ‘dark spirit’ that lives on the top floor that was always a spirit and never a person.”
Creepy. Especially for the folks that live on the top floor that believe in spooky spirits.
So… wanna party in a historic, possibly haunted mansion that has been home to dozens of people in the local cooperative community? The top floor is off limits for the party, and there won’t be any tours, but you can party with the ghost of Ed Granger all night long. (details here) See you Friday.