Sometimes, living in a splendid historic house is a blessing, sometimes it’s a curse. For those who built it, it might be a crowning achievement of reaching the pinnacle of their goals in life. Others may see it as a renovation challenge, restoring it to its former glory. Historic houses are a window into the past as well as something to be enjoyed by those in the present. But what happens when a home is so beloved, those who pass within its walls refuse to leave?
Today, we’re looking at the Stone Lion Inn in Oklahoma, and the residents that never left.
The home that would become the Stone Lion Inn was built as a private residence in 1907 by Mr. F. E. Houghton for his large family. The Houghtons had 12 children, and the home was constructed right next to their former residence, which they had outgrown. One of the family members was little Irene Houghton, who would become one of the most famous names in the family after her untimely passing of whooping cough. It’s alleged that the nurse caring for the 8-year-old administered the incorrect medicine, leading to the young girl’s death.
The family mourned heavily for their lost daughter, remembering her as a bright and playful child before her demise. It wasn’t unusual, then, when the Houghton family sold their home and moved on to other places without painful memories around every corner. It’s also alleged that the haunting activities that occurred after the death of Irene unnerved the family, so in the early 1920s, it was sold and became, aptly, a funeral parlor. Remnants of this time in the building’s life continue with the basement having been converted into a morgue for embalming and funeral preparation.
In 1986, the home was then purchased by Becky Luker, with aspirations to renovate the home and turn it into an opulent bed and breakfast. Almost immediately, however, Luker began to experience paranormal activity at the home, with the implication that the spirits were not pleased with the changes she was making. Tools would go missing, or be found in unlikely places, and the front door refused to stay open, even with an old iron propping it open. Eventually, the iron would be pushed out of the way and the door would slam again.
On one occasion, the loud sounds of someone walking up and down the staircase could be heard in the middle of the night. Out of caution, Luker called the police department, but no living perpetrator could be found in the empty mansion. More strange occurrences would happen, including the closet where Luker’s son kept his toys being ransacked in the night. A visit from the now-adult Houghton children cleared up much of the mystery when they told the story of their younger sister who had passed away in the home. It was said the chest the young boy had stored his toys in was Irene Houghton’s favorite in life.
While little Irene is not the only spirit said to haunt the bed and breakfast, she is certainly the most active. Guests have reported feeling a child pat their face while sleeping, or grab their toes from under the blankets, or most terrifyingly, crawling into bed with them. Some reports say Irene likes to play pranks on the guests, moving their personal belongings while they’re out of the house, or hiding the occasional curling iron or bottle of makeup. The sound of a child giggling and running in the halls is common, so much so that the proprietors had to warn guests of the second floor that they might experience it.
Most iconically, a wooden toy ball has also been seen rolling across the floors, pushed by an unseen hand. Irene is the most active and playful spirit, but some say a darker presence is downstairs in the former morgue from the building’s time as a funeral home. Still another report says that little Irene has a playmate in the afterlife of another young girl, Augusta, though her origins are less well known. The fact that hundreds of deceased passed through the doors during its use as a funeral home seems to solve the question of where the other spirits originated from.
The Stone Lion Inn has been renovated and is open for guests, with six different suites to enjoy the gorgeous turn of the century architecture, as well as the opulent decor inside the home. Built for a family with 12 children, there are little quirks all over the home, including the aforementioned toy closet. You can stay a night in the haunted B&B for a reasonable price, and get a little slice of history and the paranormal included, free of charge.
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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.