The Most Haunted Place in Iowa-Edinburgh Manor Part I

“Nothing changes what already happened. It will always have happened. You either let it break you down or you don’t.”
Charles Frazier, Nightwoods

Part 1

When I first scrolled across Edinburgh Manor online, there was something special about it I failed to recognize at first. I found myself oddly drawn to the place, even more than usual for me, and I visited the website a dozen times before I finally relented and emailed the owner.

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The history alone about the property initially drew me there. The land was first a poor farm; giving the incurably insane, disabled, poor, and elderly food and a place to live in exchange for labor. The occupants farmed agriculture and livestock. The poor farm was in operation from 1850-1910, and in that time there were over 80 documented deaths.

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In 1910 the poor farm closed down, and was demolished. Between 1910 and 1911 Edinburgh Manor was constructed on the property to house the poor, the elderly, and the incurably insane. Edinburgh Manor, often called, “The Manor,” was in operation until November 2010. Upon it’s closing, residents left many of their belongings inside the building, where they still remain (and you will see in many of the photos).

The poor farm above, photo via: Linda Crannell, The Poorhouse Lady, who manages, The Poorhouse Story.

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The owner opened The Manor up to do paranormal investigations in the summer of 2012, after she and her boyfriend began to notice clanging in the halls when they were alone in the building, and silhouettes caught out of the corner of your eye. When we initially purchased the place, we were in love with the architecture, unaware of the history, Cindy recalled.

The houses in the back were for highly functioning individuals, who were able to cook, clean and do their own laundry. The property consists of The Manor, the two houses in the back, and twelve acres of land. The facility has three floors, and an attic, which is off-limits unless you are in a paranormal investigating group (or book an overnight-if you are feeling brave :-)). There were usually 32-45 residents at a time, and they were often referred to as inmates. When the residents left, there were 32. Everything in the building was inherited as is, with the exception of the toys, which are explained later. They have removed very little and try to keep things as authentic as possible, which I found impressive. I think that could be a big reason Edinburgh is so active.

Video #1-Creepy Dolls.

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Another couple showed up prior to our arrival, even though I booked a private tour and photo time, so Cindy gave the tour to all four of us before everyone left my husband, Bob and I alone in the building. As soon as she ushered the four of us inside, a loud bang clamored from the left side of the first floor hallway. “Happy,” she called out toward the empty shadows. I said hi to whoever it was. She did not elaborate on who or what she was talking to down the hall, but it came from toward the blue room.

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EklundThere were men’s and women’s sides, and if there were ever families they would try to keep them together.

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The photo above is some suitcases, and below an old newspaper photograph. Just some of the many random belongings left behind by the residents.
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Each floor has a community area where the residents could gather and socialize. As you can see, almost every room is adorned with toys, puzzles, and games. Cindy said people actually donate them for the spirits, and they move around the building. The creepiest is of course the two dolls, but she said the favorite among the current residents is the fire truck, which moves around The Manor quite often.
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 The infamous fire truck below.
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Cindy said the dolls (I mention later) normally belong on the yellow couch above, and I don’t know which is creepier.
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“Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

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The room below is one that I found myself particularly drawn to at first, even before Cindy told us a story associated with the room. I have always been unnerved by old dolls, partly because when I was a young teen, one of my friend’s mom had an antique ceramic doll that was the epitome of evil. I swear his delicately painted eyes followed you around the room wherever you went! So now in adult years they creep me out, yet I am oddly fascinated by them at the same time.

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Once the tour started, Cindy explained what transpired in the room one night when her significant other decided to spend the night alone in the building. Yes, you read that right! A physics guy, with a very analytical mind, he packed up their Labrador, and headed to The Manor, insisting they would be just fine. He chose this room to sleep in, and called Cindy after settling in. Nothing will happen. As soon as the words tumbled from his mouth, something touched his foot. Except something just squeezed my toe. Then the dog began to bark, and growl, as something continued to squeeze his toe. The dog turned to the radiator, still barking and growling at an invisible guest.

She said later on when his nephew came to do an investigation (which was all very new to them), he captured an EVP in that room (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), which are the sounds caught on recorders not heard with the naked ear. At the time, he had no idea what had transpired in the room. The EVP stated clearly, I grabbed him.

I also noticed, when we re-watched the Ghost Adventures episode, I am pretty sure this was the room where Zak sends the girl to sit (as shark bait), and she was scratched.

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EklundI spent quite a bit of time in this room, sitting alone, waiting for something to happen. I took a video, and many still shots, but failed to capture anything, although I felt eyes on me the entire time I was in the room.

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I sat in the room for a long while alone, but I’m not sure I could sleep in there.

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We continuously heard noises coming from down the hallway where the rooms below were located, and there is also a video below as well.

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That is the blue room or the purple room. Cindy referred to them as both. She said at one point one woman on a tour told her there were two women in the room, one older, angry woman on one side wasn’t mad at the owners, just angry in general. The other lady was described as younger, with short, dark hair. The person on the tour had also told her there was a man standing in the doorway guarding the women, so most men feel uncomfortable.

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She said one guy who came into the room wearing a pair of shorts complained that his leg burned. Some people feel very uncomfortable in this room. 

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I honestly did not feel uneasy anywhere in the building with the exception of one room, which I will share in part 2.

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Blue room video and other rooms.

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This room is where I captured the main piece of photo evidence that I feel could be something paranormal, but I will let you decide. The room is on the second floor, and of course I loved it, because it was majorly peely decayed. Photog dream!! 🙂 I even took a selfie in the room. Can you imagine if something would have appeared over my shoulder? I would have peed my pants. Just like you will see later, my batteries like to drain when something paranormal happens or is about to happen, which is common.

Trish1Silly selfie above.  I was shooting as many pictures as I could, especially with the curling paint, and cracking mattress.

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The putrid yellow beneath the blue, hung from the wall, like loose skin. The room seriously could have been the set for a horror film.

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I started taking pictures of the chair below, and as you can see the middle photo especially has something strange in it.

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When I shot the picture there was nothing there that I could see in front of me, although I saw it as soon as I shot the photo. I do know there was nothing impeding my lens, no strap, no finger, nothing else, because I would have seen it I checked when I took it. I had also just cleaned my lens before we got to The Manor. I did no editing to these three photos.

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The last photo of the chair has a shadow on the left side, but this dark shadow was not there. Parts of the room were dark, but not that dark.

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I was also touched in this room as well. Something tugged on the pocket of my coat, while every hair on my body stood on end or at least felt like it, and goosebumps rose on my arms. I never once felt uneasy or like I was in danger.

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These photos are those shot directly after those of the chair, and this is the hallway down outside the door. I also loved the water fountain.

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As I explored the building, I imagined how many others had, and possibly still wandered those halls.

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The Ghost Adventures visit sparked much interest in The Manor. The basement is the area where the entity nick-named the joker resides, which Ghost Adventures also references many times, implying he is an evil entity. Neither of the owners feel he has bad intentions, and they have never felt like they were in danger. He likes to throw things, often breaking them. He touches people; pulls hair, scratches them, pushes them, and moves things. He is ornery, Cindy said, as we made our way through the basement. Below is the dish that was broken on the show, located in the laundry room.

He received the name, Joker, when a plate flew in front of 6-7 people. Cindy said their nephew named him Joker after that, but she still refers to him as the basement guy.

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The boiler room. This room contained many chairs in a circle, because the paranormal investigators enjoy two of the basement rooms with no light. This room is close to the laundry room, the kitchen, and not too far from the dining room. She said when groups investigate, they often ask if anyone (supernatural) is there with them to knock, usually two or three times.

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The room off of the kitchen is the first room one of the owners saw his first apparition. Cindy said afterward, he left The Manor, and refused to return for 30 days. As previously mentioned, he has always been a skeptic, until that day. Being touched was one thing, but having something– solid right in front of your face was another.

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The toe of his shoe kicked something on his way to the boiler room that had not previously been there. When he returned to the room, he felt like he was not alone. Standing in the corner behind that table above was a tall man with a wiry, russet beard with a leather duster, and a wide-rimmed hat. This was another room to which I felt a strange pull, and I usually try to listen to those little signs. The other strange thing that happened in there was the batteries in one of my cameras would instantly drained in that room, and the second I moved into another room the batteries worked again (the same exact camera that this happened to at The Norfolk Regional Center). My husband thought it could have been the extreme cold, but as soon as we left The Manor, the camera was fully functional. It did not malfunction in every room in the basement, mainly in this room, and some of the rooms upstairs as well.

Video of the room in the basement off of the kitchen.

As we explored the other rooms in the basement, I continuously found myself back in this room, searching for the man in the hat. He never manifested for me, though the goosebumps rising on my arms told me I wasn’t alone.

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My photographer heart overflowed with joy in this room. The peeling wallpaper, curling over dingy cracked walls, surrounding a table once piled with colorful fruit, cabinets once full of monthly stocks now peppered with mold.

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I could have spent days photographing this building. Obviously, I took 400 pictures, and after we left I realized I missed a few things. This gives me an excuse to return, probably this summer in warmer conditions.

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I think I took more pictures in this room than any other, even more than the dolls.

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Cindy told us the dumb-waiter is almost always up at the top, and she is usually a bit apprehensive when she pulls it back down, waiting for the day to see something on the other end. I joked that it would be the Chucky doll. YIKES! Hi, I’m Chucky, wanna play? No…we don’t.

The dumb-waiter is in the kitchen, and the door with all of the signatures, which began with the kitchen staff of The Manor. They had the residents sign when they left, and others have continued the tradition, signing as they go through.

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She said the water leak in the basement is the reason the damage is so extensive down there, such as the bowing ceiling fans, and walls of paint, shedding like the skin of a massive snake.

During a summer tour, with 30-something people in the basement, a deafening crash sent the tour guide running outside, breathless. He called Cindy, explaining what happened, realizing the remainder of the people were still inside the kitchen. A large, green object tumbled to the floor, and while people stood there, a can fell to the ground.

She said things rattle, fall to the floor and shatter, get tossed, and doors open and close.

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Video of the dining room.

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The room below was a padded room at one time, as you can tell per the wiring at the top of the ceiling. It was converted into a storeroom, which now contains DNR reports, other books, and many other interesting relics. Cindy thought perhaps since one of the ways the basement guy manifests himself is an all white being, which could perhaps indicate a patient who was frequently placed in the padded room. This would explain why he throws things or even scratches people. Maybe he has never intended to hurt anyone, and his confused mental state from his living years has carried over after death. I honestly think this is the case more often than not, and most spirits are not evil, just confused or still upset about something from when they were still alive. I could be wrong though. He has also manifested himself as a shadow figure to other people.

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Video of one of the low-light rooms.

As I mentioned previously, this is common in paranormal investigations. My husband and I both heard noises knocking sounds, and I asked if they would knock twice. They knocked twice. I asked them to knock three times, and they knocked three times. I began filming after that to see if I could capture anything else. The knocking heard next followed what we initially heard. Cindy said often the day after an investigation, the energy will still be charged throughout the building. It made sense to me why we heard tapping in one of the rooms with the chairs. When she took us through the boiler room on the guided tour before she left us alone, she said one of the common knocks they use during investigations is the old, Shave & a Haircut, Two Bits. When she explained, she gave the example aloud, so we wondered if the knocks were an attempt at answering her.

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The windows below are from the smoking porch in the back on the main floor. It’s not difficult to see the faces of past residents watching from inside, waiting for their next opportunity to be taken outside for some fresh air.

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“Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Choke 

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All of these photographs here are of the back of the building.

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 Stay tuned for Part 2! There is so much more to share, more stories, so many more photos and a couple more videos as well. I am also creating a book with only Edinburgh pictures.
I also highly recommend heading over to the Edinburgh Manor site, and book a tour or an overnight stay, but they fill up very quickly!
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Trish Eklund is the owner and creator of Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed, and Family Fusion Community, an online resource for blended families of all types. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, Nature Takes Over and Pocket Abandoned. Check out the new Bonanza Store for AFD merchandise! Follow on Instagram and Facebook. Trish is regularly featured on The MightyHuffington Post Divorce, and Her View From Home.  She has also been featured on Making Midlife Matterand The Five Moms, and has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz.
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