MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — There are plenty of ghost stories to be told on the Gulf Coast around Halloween, and the home of Kate Shephard, an Alabama school teacher, is no exception.
Long before what we know today as Mobile’s Kate Shepard Elementary School, a young Kate Shepard ran a school out of a home on Monterey Place in midtown Mobile that was built in 1897. Shephard oversaw the school until her death in 1952.
Today, inside the home sit family possessions dating back to the early 1800s. Some feel those things could still hold some sort of attachment to the Shepard family. Possibly, to a little girl who’s been spotted on several occasions by different guests at the Kate Shepard House through the years — only, no little girl lives in the house.
The current owner of the house, Wendy James, said there have been multiple sightings of the little girl in the house throughout her years there.
“He came to me and said, ‘Oh, is the little girl your granddaughter? Who’s that sweet little girl running around?’ Of course, there was no little girl running around,” James said.
James told WKRG News 5 that was just one sighting of the girl in the home and bed and breakfast that she and her husband have now owned for 18 years — a contractor doing some remodeling for the couple saw her. Overnight guests have also seen her.
“One of the guests from Isabel’s room said, “Oh, who is the little girl that I saw running around?”‘ James said.
Isabel was Kate’s sister, who passed away inside the 4,200-square-foot-house, and she undoubtedly had a strong connection to the home they both spent their entire lives living in. But Kate and Isabel weren’t the only ones with a bond. The house was once full of children, every day.
“For as much as maybe 30 or 40 years, Kate Shepard had her school here in this house. Kate was taking in youngsters, like before first grade. Back then, kindergarten was not mainstream. She was taking in a really younger age group because she believed they were ready for school,” James said.
Not only does the old house still hold many of the Shepard family’s belongings — including school books, and paperwork — many aspects of the house itself are original.
“Several of the light fixtures. These beautiful built-in bookcases. Three of the stained glass, the larger pieces of the stained glass are original,” James said. “We have nine original fireplaces and mantles. The hardwood floors are original, the fretwork — that’s original in both the foyer and the dining room,” James said.
Very strange things have happened around that butler’s pantry, which is still in its original condition.
“One of the doors of the butler’s pantry, which requires you to push a button, a little lever to open up the door, literally flew open in front of us,” James said. Just above the pantry — an unexplained “wall of water” rushed down from the ceiling.
“Right at the entrance of the butler’s pantry, I was just about to serve breakfast, and I am coming out with dishes in my hand, and this wall of water comes down in the butler’s pantry. It was heavy, it looked like a wall of water — just went ‘kapoosh.’ Got the plumber in, and they said, ‘We don’t see any leak here. We don’t know what you’re talking about,” James told Cherish Lombard. The ceiling is still stained — that happened more than once.
Just feet from the butler’s pantry — a fireplace.
“We have had things fly off the mantle. One was an antique plate. We were at the table, and one out of all of those plates, flew off and landed on the floor and, of course, was smashed to smithereens,” James said.
Whatever or whoever inhabits the house with the James’ doesn’t seem to mean anyone any harm.
“Honestly, I think it’s mischievous. That’s all it is,” James said.
And whatever it is, remains unexplained.
The Kate Shepard House is now up for sale, not because of the unexplained but because Wendy and her husband are downsizing. They’re hoping the new owners will continue the bed and breakfast they started and will cherish Kate and her family’s things — which will stay with the house — as much as they have through the years.