Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Galvan House

And now for something a little different. . .
 
November 2003
 
Years ago the city moved nine historic homes together to form Heritage Park, and the area served as a quaint backdrop for wedding receptions just like this one. The chilly autumn Corpus Christi breeze brought the salty scent of the sea across the thinning crowd as the revelers, two by two, gave the newly married couple their blessings and turned towards home. After the wedding party had feasted and toasted, twilight slowly yielded to night and the cacophony of voices slowly thinned and then fell silent. Shadows crept up the walls and enveloped the park in darkness, and the stars emerged, burning with a cold and pale light.

Nora and I were there helping her sister Lisa, whose role as Maid of Honor had bought certain cleanup responsibilities. Consequently, we remained behind long after the party had dispersed. Although the dinner had been served mostly outside, the food line and facilities were located inside the Galvan House. The Galvan House is the centerpiece of Heritage Park and today it serves as the Multicultural Center for the city. It was built ca 1907 for Asa Millton French, a railroad man from New Hampshire who settled in Corpus back in 1882, and his wife Frances. Old Man French died in 1936, and the home was acquired in 1942 by Rafael Galvan, a policeman and civil leader. I can't seem to find any info about what happened between 1936-42. Galvan died in 1966, and because people remember him it's the Galvan House and not the French House.

Management was in sparse attendance as we wrapped up the cleaning--I have to admit we did more "supervising" than cleaning. Nora and I began to wander around the Galvan House, exploring and looking at architecture and photos of SeƱor Galvan and his family. On the second floor, we found steps leading up to a third floor or possibly an attic, for the steps abruptly terminated at a closed door. At the foot of the steps, a gate barred passage with a "No Entry" sign. The gate wasn't locked, and an overwhelming curiosity pulled me through the gate. I wanted to check out that attic, but we had to be quiet; I didn't want the employees to catch us and chase us off the property! With a mischeveous glance back at Nora, I started to move slowly up the stairs. The door was of the old, narrrow style with a brass knob blackened with the years. I gingerly placed my fingers on the knob and gave it a gentle twist. It turned, and with a slight push the door was open. Beyond lay a small platform and a wall; once inside, I turned right and found more steps, perhaps a half-dozen, leading up into the darkness. There was a stained glass Palladian window on the far wall, and it glowed with the misty moonlight shining behind it. As I moved up the steps, I began to make out shadowy forms of storage crates to the right, and to my left what appeared to be a large, antique four-poster bed. Almost immediately I began to feel I was not alone; that electricity, that certain sense of presence that you get when you're blindfolded and yet you know it when someone moves close to you, became almost overwhelming. "Someone's up here," I murmered, but Nora had stayed behind, peeking up the steps from the threshhold. I could almost make out a shadowy figure on the bed. I heard no voices but a sense of outrage and anger washed over me. Go away! Get out! I hesitated, and tried to move forward into the room, but my legs wouldn't cooperate. "Come down" Nora called anxiously. I found the only direction I could move was backwards, and so I retreated from a confrontation with the apparition I wasn't entirely convinced was there.

Nora was quite agitated; she had felt the same thing when she tried to pass through the doorway. We moved down the stairs and out into the night air. Only then I realized my heart was pounding.  Shortly we found Lisa and asked her if she'd been upstairs. Without telling her what we'd experienced, we asked her to go upstairs and check out the attic. We went with her to the upper floor and I stood at the doorway as she retraced my steps from moments before. She took the steps to the top, and suddenly stopped short. She hesitated, and came back down quickly. She described it as a force field that had blocked her path into the room.

My friend Cynthia called about an hour later, and I asked her to do a Google search on "Galvan House" and "ghost." She came up with one report that people walking on the second floor sometimes felt somone tapping them on the shoulder, and others reported hearing footsteps when no one was there. We weren't surprised, and the report only confirmed what our hearts already knew: The Galvan House is haunted.

Some will sigh and roll their eyes. I don't blame them. But is it so imposible to believe that in some places along the great river of life, flowing through time and consciousness, that perhaps there are currents and eddies that swirl back upon themselves, and give us, for a moment, a glimpse into another realm as the waking world juxtaposes the land of dreams? Perhaps, somewhere in 1933, Asa French turned uneasily in his sleep, and, sensing a presence, sat up and peered into the darkness as a fleeting shadow flitted by his door and down the steps, vanishing with a murmur into the night.

4 Comments:

At 5:47 AM, Blogger Cynthia said...

I remember getting this call and looking it up. It was creepy. It's even spooky now, sitting in my house all alone. I couldn't help but look over my shoulder several times while reading your story.

 
At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may be one of those "you had to be there" kind of stories, but there was definitely a presence in that attic. There's no doubt in my mind about that - heck, that's why I played it safe at the bottom of those steps.

Nora

 
At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Creepy.

Yusuf

 
At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew the son and his family, they lived across the street from where I grew up. His name is Samuel Galvan. I went to this house before it was moved to its current location. Their daughter Patty was my friend, she told me it was her grandmother's house, of course it was empty at the time. Oh I remember this house all too well...I tried to imagine how this house looked back in the old days. Yes it was creepy and I remember everything you described...Such a Spooky and Eeery feeling; I was quite scared to be in that house ever again. I did visit that house again though when it was moved to the new location but I didn't dare go up those creepy stairs again!

 

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