Originally a haven for German-American immigrants in the Indianapolis area, this haunted building was once known as “Das Deutsche Haus.” Today, it’s called the Athenaeum and today it is used as a community center for all, with mental and physical enrichment as the main goal, just like the old days. The goal of the German House has not changed since its inception in 1898, though the programs offered and the interior has been updated for the new millennium.
Today, many say that the Atheneaum is one of the most haunted buildings in Indiana.
While the building is busy enough during the day, employees say that after the sun goes down, it’s even more active with spirits. Employees say it takes on an eerie, quiet feeling at nighttime when the doors are locked, but the quiet isn’t always encompassing. Sometimes, it can get downright loud with EVP evidence and spirit box conversations from many paranormal investigators. With the ghostly history, the Atheneaum even offers a special ghost tour for those of the paranormal persuasion.
One of the spirits that haunts the Edwardian building is known as Henry, said to haunt the third floor and spend his time turning lights on and off, knocking on closed doors and closing open ones. The facilities manager even says he occasionally appears as a young man in some apparition sightings out of the corner of one’s eye. Some say there are 14 different locations in the building where one can feel the paranormal activity, from cold spots in the middle of a corridor to voices whispering in the echoing halls.
Some ghost hunters visiting the Atheneaum say it’s too intense even for their sensibilities as paranormal enthusiasts. Some have even left during the middle of investigations when the evidence becomes too much.
A particularly notable paranormal encounter occurred when the facilities manager was alone in the huge building, knowing the doors were locked, and seeing a man and a woman walk into the theater as if for a show by one of the theater troupes that perform at the Atheneaum. Knowing even the windows were locked, the manager turned heel and left as quickly as he could, frightened and unsettled by the couple’s disappearance when he checked the theater once more.
Ghostly children giggling in various rooms have also been reported, as well as a ghostly figure of a couple dancing in the dance hall, through chairs and tables set up in the space. A ghostly grandmother occasionally appears in the YMCA or the second floor, probably someone’s Oma from a past life.
Finally, the most tragic haunting comes from a woman who worked in Das Deutsche Haus, Dr. Helene Knabe. She was a German immigrant and instructor of sports medicine when the building briefly became a college in the mid 1910s. Unfortunately, Dr. Knabe was the viciously murdered in her apartment nearby the Atheneaum, not being discovered for a few days. The murderer was never apprehended, but the ghost of the woman whose life was ended so suddenly still walks the halls, as if getting to her next class.
With a history as rich as the Athenaeum, it’s not surprising the 124 year old building has a few ghosts in the attic, but are you brave enough to be there after hours when the ghosts come out to play? The location offers paranormal investigations after hours and ghost tours during the spooky season, so be sure to stop by and say hi to the ghosts.
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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.