When Didi Dunphy heard an unexplained voice on an audio file from inside the Lyndon House Arts Center, she was startled. She wasn’t surprised, though— hearing a distinct, unidentifiable voice from a paranormal investigation in a house over 100 years old wasn’t completely unexplainable.
“Two or three years ago,” according to Dunphy, a paranormal investigator sat in a newly restored bedroom of the Italianette-styled Ware-Lyndon House. The room was originally built in the mid-19th-century and read aloud an authenticated letter from Mrs. Margaret Ann Elizabeth Lyndon, the wife of Edward S. Lyndon, who was the second owner of the home and the house’s namesake. After the reading, the investigator thanked her for allowing him to read the letter and asked if there was anything she would like to add.
“He paused, and there was a distinct ‘no!’ on the recording,” Dunphy, the Lyndon House Arts Center’s program and facility supervisor, said. “The entire staff heard it.”
The investigation also reported that the second floor was “very busy” with spiritual activity.
“The investigators found the [second floor] hallway was full of children, and Mrs. Lyndon was annoyed and angry at all of the rambunctiousness of all the children in the hallway,” Dunphy said.
Though the investigation brought official reports of the spiritual activity within the home, unofficial accounts heard “through the grapevine” add to the haunted credibility of the home, according to Dunphy.
Five or six years ago a staff administrator saw a tall gentleman dressed in a black cloak on the landing of the stairwell, according to Dunphy. The stairwell has a landing before another set of stairs which lead up to the second floor. On the second floor, there is also a painting of a man who is wearing a black cloak.
Jeff Clarke, local Athens historian and tour guide of the Athens Welcome Center’s History & Hauntings Tour, has heard descriptions of other similar sightings through the grapevine.
“There is an entity, a visitant, a haunt, a ghost, that lives in the building,” Clarke said.
Employees and guests of the Ware-Lyndon House have seen a gentleman pacing on the landing, according to Clarke.
“He’s always described the same: same black vest, white shirt, black pants,” Clarke said. “Some say he paces nervously and other times he’s just walking back and forth.
The pacing man
Clarke has two guesses for the identity behind the man on the grand staircase landing.
The second owner of the Ware-Lyndon House, Edward S. Lyndon, is his first. Lyndon was a prominent physician in Athens and served in the Civil War by performing amputations, according to “Ghosts of Athens: History and Haunting of Athens, Georgia” by Tracy Adkins.
Lyndon suffered a breakdown after the Civil War— with symptoms similar to those from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Clarke— and became a druggist. He suffered from insomnia due after the war, too.
“People who work there and many guests have seen a gentlemen pacing on the landing,” Clarke said. “Some say he paces nervously and other times he’s just walking back and forth. People assume that this is the doctor having one of his insomnia-tic episodes.”
Clarke’s other theory is that the man on the staircase is Lonnie Spaulding, a coastal Georgian who stayed at the Ware-Lyndon House in 1895 according to Clarke.
Lonnie Spaulding’s wife, Nellie, was coming up from coastal Georgia by train. Nellie was far along in her pregnancy, and she had difficulty on the train, experiencing discomfort due to her lateness in term.
Soon after their arrival, Nellie went into labor. Lonnie, who was in town for business, heard of his wife and rushed back to the house to witness the delivery of their child. In the midst of his rush, however, he was hit in the middle of the street by a horse-drawn cart. While this normally wouldn’t be fatal, causing no more than “maybe a severely bruised ego” according to Clarke, the horse’s hoof came down squarely on Lonnie’s head.
That’s who I think the ghost is,” Clarke said. “I think it’s Mr. Spalding waiting for a child that he would never know.”