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Did Ghosts Haunt this Philadelphia Laundry?

© 2016 - All Rights Reserved


B efore the railroads, Wallace Street in Philadelphia ran from the Schuykill River in the west (at about the point where the Philadelphia Museum of Art sits today) straight across to the Delaware River on the east. By the 1880s, train tracks interrupted the free flow of the street and the eastern side of Wallace became the more industrialized of the two halves.

In 1884 one of the businesses on Wallace Street was a commercial laundry owned by William Knight and operated with the assistance of his wife Isabella. The four-floor brick building at first seemed a fortunate choice of locations. Mr. Knight was told by neighbors that a chest of gold had been left in the garret by the previous residents. A thorough search was conducted and for a moment hopes skyrocketed when a chest was found - but a disappointed William discovered it contained only old clothing.

Most of the laundrywomen employed by the Knights were Irish. These strong, hardworking women willingly accepted the hot and steamy chores of washing shirts and scrubbing collars - but they were less tolerant of the ghosts rumored to share their space. Soon after the laundry opened, the ladies (some of whom slept in upstairs rooms) awoke to crashing sounds followed by heavy, plodding footsteps that trailed downstairs, out into the yard, back inside the house, only to cease upon reaching the attic above them. The laundresses cowered under the covers until morning when a full inspection of windows and doors was conducted. No signs of entry were found.

Disturbances continued and grew to include the rattling of a non-existent chain in the cellar, repeated ringing of the doorbell by unseen callers, and neighbors' reports of the mournful baying of dogs although no hounds were kept at the facility.

Explanations varied for the weird happenings on Wallace Street. The tale most often repeated was this: three beautiful, young girls died in the house and were buried under the cellar steps and every night following a full moon their spirits arose to promenade throughout the house.

Whatever the cause for the strange events, the Knights soon found themselves faced with a shortage of employees and the nearly impossible task of hiring replacements. And, it seems, they too encountered something beyond explanation while utilizing part of the building as their private apartment. One evening Mrs. Knight ran out on an errand after dinner, leaving the dirty pots and dishes for her return. But, when she arrived back home, she found all of her dishes washed and neatly stacked in the cabinets. William and Isabella quickly found other living quarters. 💀


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