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4 Jul 2010

http://www2.hernandotoday.com/content/2010/jul/03/museum-hosts-more-artifacts/

Museum hosts more than artifacts

HT photo by HAYLEY MATHIS
For the past four years, the May-Stringer House on East Jefferson Street ghost tours and investigation sessions have been held at the house.
For the past four years, the May-Stringer House on East Jefferson Street ghost tours and investigation sessions have been held at the house.

A sudden rush of cold air or the sound of dishes rattling no longer scares Bonnie LeTourneau. That's all white noise to her.

LeTourneau has grown used to the unexplainable noises that fill the May-Stringer House, also known as the Brooksville Heritage Museum, every night since she started giving ghost tours of the house four years ago.

LeTourneau, chairwoman of the ghost tours and co-chair of the haunted house in the fall, came in for her first tour eight years ago and knew she was never going to leave.

"I was drawn to the house long before I set foot in it," said LeTourneau, who runs the ghost tours with the help of volunteers.

Letourneau said the house was built in 1856 by John May with his wife Marena and daughter Jessie, who died in the house from a childhood illness and, according to legend, continues to lurk in her bedroom.

It was later sold to Dr. Sheldon Stringer, which he used as a private residence to practice medicine.

In 1950, Stringer's family sold the house and it became a rental house until it was abandoned in 1974.

The house was then bought by Dr. Earl Hensley and he sold it to the Hernando Historical Society, where it was restored in 1981 and reopened as the Brooksville Heritage Museum in 1983 with the May-Stringer ghost tours starting in 2006.

LeTourneau said she never believed in ghost stories or paranormal activity until she had her first paranormal experience four years ago.

"I used to just explain it all away," she said "But from day one of being in this house, I heard footsteps upstairs and cups rattling."

LeTourneau's most terrifying experience was with one entity named Mr. Nasty, who she said continues to haunt the attic after his ghost was brought into the house along with a trunk. While she was working in the attic, LeTourneau said she heard a growl and felt someone or something slap her across the face.

"Me and Mr. Nasty have an agreement," she said. "I don't go into the attic anymore."

Even after her unnerving experiences, LeTourneau said she is never afraid while alone in the house.

"I think all the entities in the house are good people. Some are just stuck here," she said. "This is their house and we're just here to keep it nice."

Kim Rebman, paranormal investigator and founder of Paranormal Investigators of Central Florida, has been investigating the house for almost 10 years and has had plenty of her own unexplainable experiences but says she still enjoys investigating the ghosts and their history.

"I instantly fell in love with it when going on a day tour," Rebman said. "I love history, and I am intrigued with old homes, so the May-Stringer House is right up my alley."

Rebman and her investigators use audio recorders to pick up EVPs or electric voice phenomenons they may not be able to hear and a KII that tracks electromagnetic fields or EMFs and entities in the vicinity. There's even an iPhone application for it.

LeTourneau said the ghost tours are just as popular as ever and she hopes to continue informing others about the history, whether scary or not, of the May-Stringer House.

"Even in tough economic times, people find the money to do a tour."

Historical tours are held Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Ghost tours are by appointment only Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m for $20. Late-night investigation sessions are held Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. also by appointment for $50.

Reporter Hayley Mathis can be reached at 352-544-5225 or hmathis@hernandotoday.com



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