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28 Feb 2013

'Haunted' Opelika mansion summons skeptics, believers

by Jessa Pease / WRITER
The Spring Villa Mansion is located in Spring Villa Park on 1474 Lee Road in Opelika. The house was built in 1880. (Raye May / PHOTO EDITOR)
The Spring Villa Mansion is located in Spring Villa Park on 1474 Lee Road in Opelika. The house was built in 1880. (Raye May / PHOTO EDITOR)
Opelika’s many attractions include a quaint downtown to the Museum of East Alabama, but Spring Villa Mansion offers more: ghosts and a bit of haunting.

Spring Villa Park is a 350-acre park with many amenities including a horse shoe pit, a campground, walking trails and picnic areas. Spring Villa also comes with a legend that the old mansion, built for William Penn Younge in 1850, is haunted.

“The house is supposed to be haunted,” said Jeff Pokorney, manager of Spring Villa Park. “We have a lot of ghost hunters come and put cameras and things in the house.”

According to Pokorney, legend states Penn Younge wasn’t liked by his slaves. One night when Penn Younge was walking up the spiral staircase to his bedroom, one of his slaves, who had been hiding next to the stairs, jumped out and killed Penn Younge on the 13th step of the stairs.

“People say you better step over the 13th step or it will be bad luck if you step on it,” Pokorney said. “Ever since I’ve been here I always step on it and nothing happens.”

Twin girls and two adults also died on the site. Pokorney said there was a 30-acre lake on the property, and the little girls drowned when they snuck out in a glass-bottom boat without their parents. The adults tried to save them, but also drowned.

“Most of them, like these ghost hunters and paranormal groups that do come, get voice recordings when they go in the house,” Pokorney said. “Unless you are there with them, you don’t know if it is true or not.”

Faith Serafin, founder and director of the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, led her group to research the Spring Villa Mansion. The team got a lot of feedback from the mansion.

“We were anticipating on finding things that pertained to the legend of Spring Villa,” Serafin said. “That wasn’t the case.”

The team first ran into a lot of evidence relating to children, Serafin said. They picked up the noises of balls rolling downstairs, children crying, piano keys playing and a little girl asking where her mommy was.

When the team found all of this information that related to the drowning of the little girls more so than the legend of Penn Younge, they investigated the legend further. They found that the legend was made up in the ‘40s for campers.

Jillian Capers, senior in psychology, and her friends went to go visit Spring Villa mansion in high school along with other spooky spots.

“It excited us at the time,” Capers said. “I heard some strange noises, creaks and things, but not anything specific. That would really freak me out.”

After 15 years of living on the property Pokorney only had one story to tell.

“A few years ago, it was around Christmas, we had wreaths on the front of the house, and we were taking pictures in the front yard,” Pokorney said. “Probably about the sixth picture, there was a cloud that came up in the picture. It looks like a lady and a little girl, and I don’t know what it is.”

Read more: The Auburn Plainsman - Haunted Opelika mansion summons skeptics believers

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