OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – A fall chill nips the air and leaves rustle under our feet as professional paranormal researcher Faith Serafin and News 3’s Elizabeth White walk towards Springvilla Mansion in Opelika intent on finding a ghost or at least sharing a compelling ghost story.
Serafin is the co-author of several books detailing legends and ghost stories throughout the east Alabama area. She says Auburn and Opelika is a region rich with history, and chilling remnants of the past continue to aunt Auburn-Opelika and communities of Lee County.
Colonel William Penn Yonge and his family commissioned Springvilla, a white wood mansion with gingerbread features back in 1850. Eventually, the home was donated to the City of Opelika – where 4-H campers would stay overnight in the 1930s where the Legend of Penn Yonge was born –
“He was allegedly cruel and unruly when it came to his servants. One of the slaves hid under the stairs and killed him on the 13th stair. There are two versions of the story, one he was decapitated and one that he was stabbed in the heart. There are supernatural things that happen here, but that particular story was made up in the ’40s for the campers,” shared Serafin.
The Legend of Pen Young and the fake ghost story was repeated over and over by camp counselors until one night in the 80’s Serafin says the legend turned into a real-life encounter with the other side for one camp counselor.
“There was a counselor in the ’80s who was camping. He went in to get a book bag, and he didn’t come out for a while. Someone found him, and he was as white as a ghost, and he said he had seen somebody that was playing a piano a manifestation of someone playing,” shared Serafin.
Serafin says she, too, has heard the musical notes while researching Springvilla.
“It sounded like one key ‘ding’ I was like did I really just hear that. We have it on tape. It was surreal,” Serafin said.
Serafin believes the supernatural lurks outside the mansion in the trees and surrounding woods – it’s possible a family of bigfoot roam.
“I was sitting on the steps at Springvilla, and there are two large acorn trees. We heard it come from the top and hit the bottom, striking every limb coming down. Just when it hit the ground, the leaves and dirt poofed up around it. We expected it to be a log, or a limb had fallen, but we saw nothing,” she said.
Serafin can’t explain seeing a poof of dust or hearing the single stroke of a piano key, but for several decades Springvilla spirits and the supernatural have drawn her and thousands more to the mansion’s door for a ghost story or two.
“That’s the best part about it, being able to continue to discover things and try to figure out what those things do and why they are there,” Serafin said.
Springvilla was selected as a landmark contributing to a deeper understanding of our American Heritage, Springvilla was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior on January 3, 1978.
Springvilla also serves as a campground, where families can spend the night near the mansion and create memories and maybe a few legends of their own. https://www.opelika-al.gov/283/Spring-Villa