The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL

 

About three years ago, my buddy Matt and I took off for a day trip to Alton, Illinois… just for fun! I had never been and so he was going to show me around. Alton is a place full of history, absolutely beautiful buildings, and of course… ghost stories! Early this week I was chatting with friend and researcher, Randall Keller, when I remembered a specific part of that Alton trip years before. On that beautiful October day, we stopped by the Milton Schoolhouse. Earlier that year, the Ghost Hunters (T.A.P.S.) filmed an investigation there and I had been particularly impressed with that episode.

If you watch the Ghost Hunters episode, they’re quick to play up the drama of the sad and gruesome events that supposedly happened inside the building years ago. According to Troy Taylor at AltonHauntings.com, the schoolhouse was built in 1904 and served students until 1984. The local legend (because apparently there’s no actual record of the events) about the school involves a little girl who was brutally murdered and raped by a janitor in the building in the 1930s. Some time later the janitor hung himself inside the school after leaving a note with the message “I did it!” 

As much as I wanted to get into this place, we settled for being sneaky and walked around the property for some pictures. We had a very brief meeting with the current owners in the parking lot (probably something like “Hi. Um… can we help you?”), but we didn’t push for an invitation. 

After reliving this memory and digging up the forgotten photos, I decided I MUST contact the owners to get inside, if for nothing else, to just walk around with a recorder and get some good photos. I was hoping it hadn’t turned into a paranormal trap or a “pay to investigate” place. After some new research, boy was I surprised to see what is going on at The Milton Schoolhouse now! How quickly things change. If I make a visit, it definitely won’t be the kind I had in mind. 

You’ve just got to check out their beautiful site. From TheMiltonSchoolhouse.com:

“Purchased in 2009, The Milton Schoolhouse is actively undergoing renovation to host artists, small businesses, and community oriented groups as we work to infuse this beautiful riverfront town with a fresh burst of entrepreneurial spirit.”

“The Milton Schoolhouse is a place for innovators, dreamers, bold visionaries, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, daring pioneers- and renaissance people.”

Currently you can get a massage at the Milton. The old schoolhouse also houses the office of an electrician, two different photography studios, an art studio, and a creative stained glass studio. Apparently there’s a business called Marie the Cheesecake Lady coming soon! (Cheesecake. Yup. I’ll be taking a trip back to Alton soon!)

So what do the new owners think about their haunted history? They’re apparently trying to distance themselves from it all, as according to their FAQ page, they say…

“Instead of haunted, we prefer to say the building has a lot of character. We’re working hard to infuse this building with new life- and prefer not to lean on an old urban legend to create a buzz about this awesome place. “

I would have to agree. It seems pretty awesome. This is probably something that many historic and possibly struggling communities should take note of. Wouldn’t you agree?

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About Patrick Keller

My name is Patrick Keller. Along with blogging and podcasting (bigseance.com), and doing various kinds of paranerdal research here at home, my main gig is being an educator. I am also the founder of the Missouri Spirit Seekers (mospiritseekers.com), a group of paranormal investigators based in both O’Fallon and Lexington, MO since 2010. I am a member of Association TransCommunication (ATransC) formerly the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AA-EVP). View all posts by Patrick Keller

11 responses to “The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL

  • Randall Keller

    I most definitely agree! Frankly, I think it’s how things like this should go. A very positive use for something that could have succumbed to negativity. By refusing to allow a sliver of horror to decide the future of a great old building, the world is blessed all over again by its potential contributions. And the paranormal can move into tomorrow right along with it. Maybe it’s late, but I find this most encouraging. Excellent.

    • Patrick Keller

      You picked the perfect words. I so wish my hometown could have done something like this and saved the beautiful old building that housed 5 years of middle school memories for me. For years it was a high school before that. It no longer exists, and of course the town is struggling and shrinking.

  • spiritchild1972

    Wait….so there are places CHARGING a fee to let people investigate their properties? That is so insulting to Spirit in every way. What is a Paranormal Trap? It all sounds so shocking and intriguing for me. I can’t believe people charge for these places to be investigated. I honestly didn’t think people would be like that. Just out of curiosity, what is the name of that Haunted School House that appeared in The Birds? That is one of the best examples of Haunting I’ve ever seen captured on video. Is that near you mate or like…on the other side of the country?

  • aradiasilvermoon

    “I was hoping it hadn’t turned into a paranormal trap or a “pay to investigate”

    Are places actually like this? Having someone pay you just so they can look around seems so crass. By Paranormal trap do you mean like one of those tacky roadside “tourist traps”?

    • Patrick Keller

      I’ll respond to aradiasilvermoon and Spiritchild all in one comment. Yes. There are places–mainly large facilities or super popular paranormal “haunts”–that charge paranormal investigation teams to come investigate. I have mixed feelings on the practice, though I’ve paid for an investigation of a prison once before. I am most likely going to pay for another investigation experience this coming winter. My spiritual self and paranormal researcher nerd self conflict a lot… and this is one of those areas. Even though it’s my passion, the great paranormal craze and the side effects that it creates drives me nuts. As soon as a haunted location becomes well known or is featured on television, it becomes that “trap” and suddenly the place is molested 24/7, urban legends gradually become fact, truths get stretched, unqualified goofy “ghost hunters” go out embarrassing the world, etc. I’ve always felt that the paranormal craze was getting close to winding down. It sounds weird, but I hope so. Then people who are passionate and serious about it can take over again. Ha! That sounds so hateful but it’s true.

      Back to “pay to investigate”… A positive side to this practice is that in some cases the money raised by investigations goes toward either renovating the location or even keeping it from being demolished or falling into disrepair. In most cases I see this as a good thing. The last time I paid for an investigation of a prison it was only $10 for my part. I was okay with that… and it gave me the experience I needed and some training. If investigators are respectful to all those living and passed on, I don’t see a problem with it.

      I’m predicting the next question by Spiritchild… go ahead… ask it. :-)

  • Theresa H Hall

    I’m on the East Coast so I will not be going there. Although I might make an astral visit since you say it is a cool place.

  • NetherRealm

    “I was hoping it hadn’t turned into a paranormal trap or a “pay to investigate” place.” – Welcome to California! We’ve lost the movie industry to Canada, so pay to investigate has become the cash cow of small towns who used to profit from the movie industry.
    My eyes lit up about how the school will be repurposed. Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, CA has done the same with their old barracks. Even though they invite artists, model train enthusiasts, an ROTC type school, etc., you’ll still see shadow people roaming the property at night. They don’t play up the paranormal. If it happens, it happens. Which, I think, produces better experiences by producing a more relaxed, and positive, environment.

  • Patrick Keller

    Cornelia, I SO wish we didn’t live so far away from each other. I’d love to see you and the team work.

  • Bill Behr.

    FYI: The Milton Schoolhouse did charge for investigations back when they allowed them. It paid for the insurance they were required by the city to carry, the fire code upgrades they had to make before they could legally let people in the building to do the investigations, the heat, coffee and snacks that were in the ‘lounge’ teams used during the evening, and what was ‘profit’ went for building materials to move them to the place they are now.

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