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Crenshaw House, Hickory Hills, Illinois, USA

The Crenshaw mansion or Old slaves' house was built in 19th century by John Crenshaw - a wealthy landlord and manufacturer. The three-storey house was constructed in classic Greek style: the huge columns were carved from solid pieces of pine tree. From the veranda on the second floor Crenshaw used to watch his acres. The interior if the house was decorated with original works of art of famous artists. Inside each of thirteen rooms there was an individual fireplace.

In 19th century it was illegal to exploit slave labor in the state of Illinois. Soon mines of salt were discovered on the territory of the state. The "salt business" turned out to bring good profit. However it was a back-breaking labor and only the most hopeless agreed to work there. Taking this into consideration the government authorized the use of slave labor exclusively on the salt mines. In 1829 the government made a decision to sell the mines and to build a state prison on gained money. At that very time John Crenshaw bought thousands of acres and became one the most authorized and wealthiest people of the state. There were rumors that he kidnapped black slaves, chained them and locked on the attic. People start gossiping that the ghosts of the slaves wandered around the house at night, cried and asked for help.

In 1864 Crenshaw sold the house to an unknown buyer and moved from the state. In 1906 the house was bought by the Sisk family, beginning from 1926 Hickory Hall became a widely known sight for tourists. Soon the owners of the house set an entrance fee. Many people tried to spend the night on the attic but neither of them managed to reach the dawn. The only person who was able to spend the whole night in the house was David Rogers, a journalist who was making reportage for Halloween. Next morning he told about strange things that happened at night: ghosts all around the house, voices of weeping women and children, sound of clanking chains. In 1996 by the decision of the government the house was barred to the public to "protect it as a part of US history".

By Sona Gasparian,


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