Cheery, vibrant pink azaleas are blooming at Meghann Humphreys’ residence, denoting a welcoming atmosphere to all passersby. However, looks can be deceiving.
While store-bought ghosts are not swaying from tree limbs, nor are fake tombstones taking root, the Cartersville property does not require any Halloween decor. The two-story, yellowish-cream home covered in English Ivy is known by many for its tragic and paranormal past. Adorning the front door, a black pumpkin’s wording serves as a playful warning — “Murder House.”
“I love ‘American Horror Story’ and their first season was ‘Murder House,’” Humphreys said, referring to the FX television show. “Since we were moving into a haunted house and someone was actually murdered on the property, we thought ‘Why not call it Murder House like on that show?’
“Since the house was cleansed, there really hasn’t been much activity. Well, I say that, but when someone stopped by around a year ago and I told them that there wasn’t much going on, one of the ghosts reminded me he was still hanging out. It wasn’t anything scary. Just a quick visit at the bedroom door and that was it,” she said about feeling a “presence” at the door.
With a love for Halloween and an interest in the supernatural, Humphreys was excited to start renting the late 1880s stucco home in 2015.
“Some friends of mine and I were really into ghost hunting and watched shows, like ‘Ghost Adventures’ and ‘The Dead Files,’” said Humphreys, executive director of TheatreExtreme and an assistant public defender at the Cherokee Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office. “This house was featured on ‘The Dead Files’ in the ‘Scandal in the South’ episode. As soon as we saw the house was available to rent, we knew we had to move in.
“There are many theories out there about why places are haunted. One of the stories attached to this house is the story of Joe Ben Jenkins. He was the police chief of Cartersville in the 1920s up until September 1930 – which is when he was shot and killed on the corner of the property,” she said about one of the home’s former residents whose accused shooter, John Willie Clark, was later forcefully removed from the jail and lynched by a mob in Cartersville.
As Humphreys noted, her Douglas Street house took center stage on “The Dead Files” episode, which premiered on the Travel Channel April 27, 2012. Filmed in 2011, the show’s paranormal team — retired homicide detective Steve DiSchiavi and physical medium Amy Allan — visited the home to investigate former resident Cynthia Ivey’s reports of supernatural activity.
“My son and I were playing hide-and-go seek with children out in the yard here,” Ivey told The Daily Tribune News prior to the episode. “It went on for about an hour. Then we figured out that we were chasing imaginary children, if you will.
“The same children were playing in my stairwell inside the house. And then we heard large stomping sounds that would happen at night at the foot of the bed. It would alert the dogs and they would go crazy.”
Further details about the home’s storied past will be revealed during the upcoming Cartersville Ghost Tour.
Presented by Humphreys’ theater group, TheatreExtreme, and the Pumphouse Players, the 2.5-mile walking tour will take place Friday and Saturday. Some of the other stops will include the Cartersville Train Depot, Cartersville Municipal Court and the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center. Since group sizes are limited, some tours already have sold out. The cost is $18 for general admission and $15 for PHP members.
“The Ghost Tour lasts around an hour and a half to two hours and takes people on a journey through Cartersville’s spooky past,” Humphreys said. “Believe it or not, we have some paranormal activity at a number of sites downtown. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is going to be a lot of fun.
“We’re going to 11 different sites in the downtown Cartersville area. Some of the stops are places that used to be homes or other businesses, but may be different things now. Cartersville has evolved quite a bit over time and I think people will be surprised to learn about some of those ways.”
Calling the Cartersville Ghost Tour Humphreys’ “brainchild,” Duane Ellis is delighted to team up with TheatreExtreme for this offering. For the PHP vice president, the most “interesting” stop on the tour is Humphreys’ residence.
“When I was younger, I heard stories of this house being haunted,” he said. “When I was in high school and would walk home, I would cross the street to avoid this house.”
About five years ago, Humphreys shared a notable amount of paranormal activity was detected in her dining room.
After noticing her cats were nervous and a “heaviness” had settled over her residence, Humphreys followed her friend’s suggestion to have the structure cleansed of evil spirits. Along with burning white sage, the ritual consisted of marking doors with crosses and praying in a couple of rooms.
“The house was cleansed back in 2015 and the lady who performed the cleansing felt that something happened in the dining room between a man and a woman,” Humphreys said. “She couldn’t get a clear message of what happened, but it was negative and possibly violent. Finding out who the unhappy couple could have been is on my ever-growing list of things to do for the house.”
One of the strangest happenings Humphreys has witnessed in her dining room was seeing a pair of hat pins on the ceiling, flanking her light fixture.
“Some of the things we have experienced here are cold spots in my office as well as things being moved around,” Humphreys said. “There were also little legs spotted running down the stairs. When a friend of mine from law school came to do some ghost hunting here a few years ago, we were able to capture footage of one of the cameras being moved.
“It went from pointing one way to another. We tried to find an explanation for how it could have moved and found nothing. We knew it wasn’t one of the cats because they had somehow gotten locked up in one of the bedrooms. Later on, when we played around with the voice box, we heard someone identify himself as Jim and he took credit for knocking things over in my office.”
Her eerie abode also will be featured in another of TheatreExtreme and PHP’s Halloween-related events — “Scary Stories and Haunts.” The online production, consisting of brief horror-themed plays, ghost stories and urban legends, will air online Oct. 23 to 31.
Humphreys’ contribution was producing a short documentary about Boo McCarty’s ghost hunting efforts in Bartow County.
Answering Humphreys’ questions, McCarty shared he has interacted with ghosts, noting “I can feel their energy, like I can touch them and they can touch me — it’s really spooky, in a way.” In the documentary, viewers will see what happens when McCarty visits Humphreys’ Murder House and asks the questions with his ghost hunting devices: “How many spirits are here with me today?,” “What’s your name?,” “Do you like living here?,” Do you know my name?” and “Do you know my friend Meghann?”
“TheatreExtreme was formed in 2014 and one of our goals was to experience theater differently,” Humphreys said. “COVID has forced us to stay true to that goal because we really can’t experience theater the same way we used to. Ghost Tours and online offerings are the safest ways to reach audiences right now.
“Any time I visit a place, I want to know about its past, especially in terms of whether or not there might be paranormal activity. So, I’m sure I’ve been on the lookout for ghosts in Cartersville and Bartow County since I was a kid. It makes for a good story.”
For more information about TheatreExtreme and the Pumphouse Players’ spooky offerings, visit https://pumphouseplayers.com or view the PHP’s Facebook page.