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?