Where Monroe’s Blakeney House is concerned … it depends on whom you talk to
Since its construction by famed architect Charles C. Cook circa 1903, the historic Blakeney House at 418 East Franklin Street in Monroe has been a private residence, a number of different restaurants, and today serves as a home for bible and mission training for Youth With a Mission.
Scour the Internet or ask around, and one is sure to hear tales of a haunted house. “Not so,” said a YWAM Base Director who asked not to be quoted by name. “Nothing like that happens here . . . it’s all just rumors.” Cassie, who answered the YWAM phone, concurs. “We who live here don’t believe it’s haunted.”
Union County Paranormal Director Barbara Jones has a different opinion on the matter – although she has not investigated the home first-hand. Her stories are all second-hand, based on interviews with patrons who visited the building during its several tenures as a restaurant in the late 1980s and 90s. “People had lots of tales back then,” she recalls. “One of my students gave me a heck of a story about what his dad saw years back.”
According to lore, the Blakeney House has several ghostly residents: original owner William Blakeney, one of Monroe’s early bankers rumored to have hid his fortune throughout the house before passing in a car accident; a woman in red, and a young girl.
Many describe the upstairs as being particularly creepy, or receive a sense of unease or of being unwelcome.
Internet bulletin boards, including one on Ancestry.com, reveal accounts of previous visitors discovering items moved to different locations inexplicably, sounds of footsteps, and even cold breezes. Another account tells of an apparition appearing so real it talked, along with instances of candles lighting by themselves and locked doors becoming inexplicably unlocked.
Long-time resident and YWAM Director Todd Hedgepeth loves the City of Monroe, but begs to differ. “I’ve been in ownership of the Blakeney House for seven years, and lived across the street for 14,” he says. “While the stories are intriguing and exciting I hate to disappoint.”
“We are not interested in perpetrating the story,” Hedgepeth added, “It’s not consistent with who we are and what we believe . . . but more importantly we have not had any of these experiences.” Part of the national YWAM organization, Hedgepath runs hands-on and intensive bible and mission training courses for colleges from the Blakeney House several times a year. Volunteers work hard training, running children’s programs, and partnering with community non-profit organizations to feed hungry area families. In other words, the YWAM is busy “developing leaders and giving them a great mission experience,” Hedgepath explains.