About 25 people visited four Frankford historic sites on Oct. 27, the Saturday before Halloween, to hear about hauntings and history. The visitors got a good look at the Grand Army of the Republic headquarters on Griscom Street, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Frankford Avenue, and the Frankford Monthly Meeting and the Frankford Historical Society, which are across Orthodox Street from each other.
The stops along the second annual Frankford Haunted History Tour, all by themselves, were more than a little interesting. Besides, the ghosts were no-shows. Perhaps they had heard about the approach of Hurricane Sandy and were spending their pre-storm Saturday night hunting for drier places to haunt.
At the Historical Society of Frankford headquarters, member Patricia Coyne talked about all the art and artifacts on display in the 1930 Georgian Revival building, but added the premises had a ghost that had been frightening people for years. He probably had an appointment elsewhere on Oct. 27.
Across the street, Friends’ recording clerk Marion Parkinson and clerk Peg Szczurek said the Frankford Monthly Meeting’s 1833 building on the 1500 block of Orthodox has some “friendly” ghosts who like to look out the upper floor’s windows and rearrange the shades.
Friendly might not be the appropriate description for one apparition. He’s known as George and he makes people uncomfortable, according to Parkinson and Szczurek. Ghost researchers have seen “activity” in the windows, they said.
Michelle Feldman, the Frankford Community Development Corporation’s corridor manager, later went upstairs at the meeting house to stand in for the meeting house’s spectral presences.
Friendlier were the man and woman some kids spotted in the meeting house. The children reported the two were wearing old-fashioned clothes and were holding hands.
Spirits supposedly frequent the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library on the 4200 block of Griscom St.
“We’re known for being haunted,” said librarian and board member Kathleen Smith.
The Grand Army of the Republic was sort of an American Legion or VFW for Civil War veterans. The Frankford GAR building houses a lot of the soldiers’ records, and Smith suspects the ghosts she said haunt the building do so because of the tangible ties to the past.
“They’re here because their records are here,” she said.
Another presence is that of “Jim,” a Civil War re-enactor, who is the GAR’s most famous ghost, Smith said.
“He comes back here because he likes it here,” she said.
Anyone interested in Jim and the others who are said to hang around the GAR can visit 4278 Griscom St. between 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, and 1 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, for a ghost hunt.
The Rev. Jonathan Clodfelter gave tour participants a look at the interior of St. Mark’s, an immense church richly appointed with stone carvings and elaborate stained glass windows. The early-20th century structure was designed by Frank Rushmore Watson, who also designed the historical society’s building.
Anyone who has passed by the church on the 4400 block of Frankford Ave. or on the El cannot imagine the building’s beauty. Even in the gloom of a late October evening, the place is breathtaking. However, it was downright spooky in the dark crypt below ground level, where there were a few graves.
Ghosts? Not in the scary sense. There is, of course, the Holy Spirit, Clodfelter said. ••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or at firstname.lastname@example.org