ALTON, IL   HISTORY        This 16-room Victorian mansion located on 2018 Alby Street was built for Henry Guest McPike by architect Lucas Phiffenberger in 1869. It is situated on 15 acres of land called "Mt. Lookout" - the highest point in Alton - and was elaborately designed inside and out.        Henry McPike was a descendant of two prominent men who fought in the Revolutionary War alongside George Washington at Valley Forge: Capt. Mose Guest McPike and Capt. James McPike. Henry - the son of James - moved with his family to Kentucky in 1795, and then as a young man relocated to Alton, Illinois in 1847.        He was a man of varying interests and career paths. Manufacturing, real-estate, and insurance were three of his pursuits. He also demonstrated a keen interest in flora and fauna and was at one time president of the largest horticultural society in the state of Illinois. The son of abolitionist John McPike, he later became very involved with politics and served with the war department as Deputy Provost of the region during the Civil War. It was after this that he ran for and was elected to the City Council, which preceded his eventual election as Mayor between 1887 and 1891. Henry McPike        Records say the McPike Mansion remained in the family until 1936, and then became the home of Browns Business College before it was sold to Paul Laichinger. Other records state it was purchased by Mr. Laichinger in 1908, who rented out some of the rooms to tenants until his passing in 1930. Obviously there is some confusion in regards to this documentation.        The mansion has not been inhabited since the 1950s and has fallen victim to weathering, vandalism and theft - as much of the ornate interior structures like the marble fireplaces and hand-carved stairway banisters have either deteriorated or been stolen.      Something of a noted horticulturist, the landscaping around the mansion was dotted with selected rare trees and shrubbery, fruit trees and vineyards. Mc Pike used his knowledge of grafting to develop the “McPike grape”.        Today the mansion is owned by George and Sharyn Luedke who bought it at auction in 1994 and are now in the slow, expensive process of attempting to restore the home to its former splendor. The home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.           THE HAUNTINGS OF McPIKE MANSION        As one can imagine in an abandoned, decaying old house, stories of paranormal activity are ripe and rampant. While fact and fiction tend to blur in some cases, there have been some very credible and compelling sightings within the walls and grounds of the mansion. Some have been experienced by the many ghost tours, paranormal investigators, psychics and news crews that have come through the building over the years.        One, the ghost of Mr. Laichinger has been seen first-hand by Sharyn Luedke herself. Her first encounter happened shortly after she and her husband had purchased the property. While watering some plants in the yard, she was startled to see a man wearing a striped shirt and tie staring at her from an upstairs window. More disturbingly, Mrs. Luedke has a photograph of Mr. Laichinger wearing a matching outfit.        A photograph taken from a tour bus outside the mansion captured this image of what appears to be a man on the front porch at the door (below). No one was there at the time the picture was taken. Sharyn Luedke is convinced it is the ghost of Mr. Laichinger.          On the third floor a former servant thought to be named Sarah remains in the house. A man who had taken a book from the home several years earlier brought it by one day and showed Mrs. Luedke an inscription inside that read "Sarah Wells". Mrs. Luedke has reported that this apparently loving spirit has actually given her what felt like a hug one day and both she and her husband can - from time to time - detect the fragrance of lilacs on that floor.        Perhaps the most famous incident surrounding the mansion was one that was actually recorded on videotape and has played in the media for a few years running. It concerns a mist that mysteriously appeared in the wine cellar and was caught moving from room to room without any source or origin or method of propulsion. Obviously, with no wind in the basement, the formation and movement of the mist remains the most chilling example of paranormal activity. The McPike Mansion Mist