Monday, October 27, 2014

The Ghost in the Library

A few years ago, I worked for an energy services company in the Southeast US. My job was a performance contracting engineer, which is an interesting profession. It enabled me to travel to different locations, analyze the energy usage of different facilities and make recommendations for them to go "green" by installing energy-efficient and environmentally friendly equipment. Part of my responsibilities was to conduct the energy audit, which meant I would physically walk through a building taking energy readings, counting light fixtures and gathering nameplate data from their HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) units.

So one day, my sales associate asked me to audit the Charleston Library Society in South Carolina. This library, founded in 1748, is the third oldest in the country.  It houses plenty of colonial era literature including a letter from President George Washington. What I didn't know before I scheduled the appointment there was that it also contained one GHOST.

I walked in the Library and met with the head librarians. The library was moderately occupied for a Tuesday afternoon. They basically gave me free access to venture throughout the building on my own. I started from the top (the roof) and worked my way down to the basement. I only needed an hour or two to do my job. It was your standard audit, counting lighting fixtures, measuring windows, gathering temperature readings, calculating ventilation and taking down make/model numbers on motors, AC units and the boiler. The librarian did tell me that one time the vents on the boiler were not working properly and they almost had a carbon monoxide poisoning incident there recently. Otherwise nothing special to report here or so it seemed.

While I was in the basement, I walked through the Archives, the special collection of books that were not available to the public. I happened to notice in an adjoining room there was a person in there. I didn't want to disturb them as their back was towards me. I did notice something odd. They were just standing there, not making a sound. I assumed it was another librarian re-shelving books. He had on an old heavy looking suit though, which I found odd since it was the middle of the summer. I paid him no mind and continued looking at the lights.

The PA system came on a few minutes later telling us that the library would be closing in 15 minutes. I finished what I had to do and made my way upstairs. Once the I got to the main floor most of the library was empty and the librarians were shutting down the lights. I informed the librarians that there was someone still downstairs. They both looked at each other and said "No there isn't." I politely told them "Yes there is, I saw him. He had on a black coat. He's in the archives room. Is that one of your co-workers?" Their eyes widened and one of them spoke softly. She said, "You saw THE GHOST."

I thought to myself and said "I'm getting the hell outta here these people are crazy." Did the ghost try to kill them by closing all the vents on the boiler? Something told me that they were telling the truth but I wasn't going back downstairs to prove them wrong. Later on, I approved their project for whatever they wanted. I never went back to see if it was done!

Fast forward 8 years later to now and I run across some old articles to this old haunting ground. I can now put a name and face to my ghostly encounter. The ghost that haunts the Charleston Library Society is none other than its largest contributor, the late William Godber Hinson (1838-1919). Click that link to see his face and read a story about him. Several librarians have reported seeing him over the years.

I may never set foot again in the Charleston Library Society, but if I do, at least I know who to call....

Read my mother's old ghost story HERE if you dare!


  1. Man that would freak me out. I wouldn't go back there either. LOL!

  2. Very cool! I want to visit hehehe....