Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Baker Mansion

baker mansion
The Baker mansion from Blair County Historical Society

Built in 1849 by iron mogul Elias Baker, the 28-room, Greek Revival Baker Mansion is now a museum and the offices of the Blair County Historical Society. The ghosts of both Elias and his daughter Anna, among others, have reportedly been spotted in the house by startled staffers and visitors.

It's said that Anna was forbidden to marry her socially inferior fiancé (he was a steelworker) by the domineering and apparently snobby Elias. She never did wed and died an old maid in 1914. A wedding dress was eventually put on exhibit in the museum (not hers, but one belonging to another prominent Altoona deb, Elizabeth Bell).

On nights with a full moon the dress quakes violently in its' second floor glass case, sometimes threatening to shatter the display. It's supposed to be Anna shaking the exhibit, still enraged at the sight of a wedding gown like the one she never got to wear. To add insult to injury, the dress is shown in her old bedroom. Even ghosts get Freudian, we suppose.

Anna's brother Sylvester, who like her never left the mansion, is also supposed to be roaming the halls of Baker Mansion. Elias himself is alleged to haunt the Mansion's dining room. A woman in black has reportedly been seen roving the third floor. There have been other stories of ghostly figures seen reflected in mirrors and orbs floating about the old stone house.

There's even a tale of screams coming from the basement ice room where the body of David, one of Baker's sons who had been killed in a steamboat accident in 1852, was stored until the frozen ground thawed enough for a proper burial.

Geez, you'd think at least one of the Bakers would rest in peace. Then again, what fun would the building tour be without them?

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