Exploring Dubuque's haunted history - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Exploring Dubuque's haunted history

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The Mandolin Inn, formerly the Schrup House, is supposedly haunted. The Mandolin Inn, formerly the Schrup House, is supposedly haunted.
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A new book takes a look at Dubuque's haunted history.

Anybody looking for paranormal activity in the Key City might consider visiting the Grand Opera House.
Executive director Paul Hemmer said he has experienced paranormal activity firsthand.

"Yes, this place is haunted," he said.

His experience happened next to a colleague, while taking a photo of the stage.

"As I'm standing there, focusing on the scene, all ready to click, I felt this blast of cold air through my entire body, and I said, 'Wow! What was that?' And she said, 'I didn't feel a thing,'" Hemmer said.

The opera house sees several paranormal groups each year, Hemmer said.

"In fact, they say, the old projection booth upstairs, which is now where we have our spotlights, has 13 spirits in it," Hemmer said.

That's not all.

"The ballet studio upstairs also experiences instances where the door will open and shut during their rehearsals, and there's nobody there," Hemmer said.

It seems Dubuque has no shortage of places with stories of inexplicable happenings.

Author Richard Barker detailed some of those accounts in his new book, Dubuque's Haunted History.

"There's very little tangible evidence for paranormal activity. All you get are stories," he said.

Such stories, plus historical accounts, went into his book.

"The City Hall Annex is one that I have actual sort of firsthand testimony that people had experiences there," Barker said. "City Hall is thought to be haunted. There's a lot of noise activity coming from City Hall."

Also in his book is the Schrup House, which is now the Mandolin Inn, owned and operated by Amy Boynton.

"I never used to believe in things like this," she said, "but once you start being a little more open to it, you'll notice a lot more things."

She said neighbors and guests have described experiencing paranormal activity at her inn, including one time, while she was giving a guest a tour.

"When we were looking at the ballroom, she saw a tall, young man, dressed in 1890s, early 1900 clothes and that he was all happy," Boynton described.

In fact, all accounts of activity at her inn seem to describe benign spirits.

"Nothing spooky, and maybe that's why it doesn't scare me," she said.

For more information on Dubuque's haunted history, Barker's book is available on amazon.com and in Dubuque at River Lights Bookstore and the gift shop at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

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