Could a shopping mall in Illinois be the most haunted place in the country? The tenants of Mineral Springs Mall in Alton, IL are sure they are a contender in that contest. Opened originally when a spring was discovered on the site with a mineral rich aquifer. Built in 1914, the mall is one of the oldest buildings in the small town, with several shops on the first floor and offices in the upper floors, and a few ghosts in the walls.
In another life, the mall was going to be an icehouse for a butcher, but the discovery of a natural spring changed the building plans, adding a pool to enjoy the year round temperate spring water. At the time, it was a phenomenon sweeping the nation, the healing powers of springs and the water from them. The proprietors hoped to capitalize on that fad and created a spa and pool on the location. A bottling plant was installed in the sub basement to bottle the spring water and send it out to over 12 states as artisanal water with healing properties.
The hotel that was built on the site, above the bottling plant and swimming pool, was originally a grand hotel with over 100 rooms, built in the italian style with trusses and gables. Like many places with swimming pools or springs, there are haunted stories about unfortunate souls that may have drowned in the pool. One of those spirits is named Cassandra, assumed to have drowned near the heyday of the spa and hotel. Cassandra was a young girl, so those visiting the location often leave small toys and marbles near the pool area. Many have reported seeing these items move on their own, as if being played with by an unseen hand.
Another supposed haunting involved a 17 year old who drowned in the pool, verified by historical records. The young man was named Clarence, and he haunts the pool area with playful pranks and occasional full bodied apparitions in the pool, sometimes wearing a vintage brown suit.. Clarence’s death certificate is hanging in the lobby of the mall to this day.
Proprietors of a crystal shop that occupies one of the ground floor locations say they have had many of their crystals moved into unlikely places, like tool boxes and shelves, seemingly moved by unseen hands. The crystals are always pink agate, which the tenants say is evidence of an innocent and young spirit.
Two more spirits haunt the location, Mary and Pearl, both women who met their end within the walls. Paranormal investigators and guests have said they hear a high pitched “Hi,” when attempting to communicate with one of the two women who have been seen around the property as ghostly apparitions. Pearl is said to prefer the company of women, while Mary enjoys communicating primarily with men. Mary is also known as the “Jasmine Lady,” with the smell associated with her being a potent jasmine perfume. She is believed to have met her end after a fall down the stairs in the main lobby.
Finally, another spirit often captured by investigators is that of Charlie, a potential drunk who racked up such a bar tab, he was required to paint a mural as payment. Legend says Charlie killed himself before finishing the mural, so today his spirit is seen near it and in the bar area, looking to get one more drink in the afterlife.
If you have the opportunity to visit the Mineral Springs Mall, be prepared to see something paranormal and out of the ordinary. You could run into the ghosts of the building, and more than a few of them might run into you.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.