Havana Gym Investigation

History: Constructed in 1923 to serve two of the local schools, the gym is now home to park district activities.  The area of Havana was first surveyed in 1827 for Ossian Ross, who started a canoe ferry across the nearby Spoon River. It is an area rich in Illinois history and lore and the town gained its unusual name because of a river island that they dubbed "Cuba," thanks to the fact that it was shaped like the Caribbean nation. Locals eventually called their town "Havana" because it was next to "Cuba Island." It was incorporated as an Illinois town in 1848.

By 1900, it was a well-known fishing and hunting center for the region. The economy boomed and legend has it that its many happenings attracted Chicago city officials, wealthy businessmen and even mobsters like Al Capone.



As the area thrived, new businesses came to town and there streets were lined with hotels, theaters, bars and gambling houses, all intent on entertaining the fishermen and hunters who flocked to the region. The city remained a bustling place throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Among its businesses were four floating fish markets, three drugstores, banks, scores of restaurants, a movie theater (now believed to be haunted in its own right), taverns, night clubs and more.



Now long past Havana's population peak, the quiet community slumbers like many other Illinois river towns, attracting visitors to its pleasant location, area history and the paranormal events that some of the local structures seem to offer. The Old Havana Gym is one such location. A number of ghost researchers have visited the locations in the past and have left the place with a variety of what seems to be evidence of supernatural events.

In the 1970s, the school system didn't want the gym and sold it to the park district. It has unique bleachers which are completely off the floor.

Located at: 127 E. Jefferson St., Havana, IL. 62644

Hauntings: According to legend, a former custodian from the schools and the gym still lingers in the place, working away at the tasks he repeated so often in life. His activities have been heard here -- and recorded -- many times in the past. But the most prominent ghost is a local boy who was allegedly locked in the gym one night and subsequently died. His cries have often been heard, calling for help, as have footsteps on the stairs, the sounds of basketballs, and other eerie happenings!

Noises in the main part of the gym are caused by what most call Sam who was probably a janitor. Shadowy figures have been seen in the far corner near the stage and doors open and close. Banging sounds are heard moving around in the bleachers and apparently Sam doesn't like when the batting cage is open. A child's ghost has been observed on the steps leading to the basement. Lots of activity has been reported in the cubby hole within the women's washroom in the basement.  A lot of EVPs has been picked up in the room with the bicycle.  The sound of a xylophone playing has often been heard. In the boiler room, shadows have been seen and people have been touched.

Equipment setup: A static IR camera and IR illuminator was positioned in the bleachers where the noises have been heard in the past along with the Geophone. The Command Center was set up on the stage area with equipment run downstairs. A motion detector was positioned in the corner of the main gym floor where the shadowy figures have been seen.

Experiments performed: EVP, Ovilus X and Ghost Box sessions were conducted in the Boiler Room, Bike room, main gym room and exercise room with all the mirrors. Jeanne sat on the tricycle to try to illicit a response from the ghost.

The Ghost Research Society investigated Havana Gym on June 1, 2013. Team members included: Stan Suho, Kathie Para, and Dale Kaczmarek with help from Jeanne Chilton, Mike McElhiney and members of PRIOM.








Personal experiences: While conducting an EVP session in the Bike room we all clearly heard a tinny sound come from within the same or next room but couldn’t identify the source.

Kathie Para: I investigated this location with Dale Kaczmarek and Stan Suho from our team. Jeannie Chilton and Mike McElhiney from PRIOM were also there along with two other members of Jeannie's group. There were seven of us total and we stayed together the entire night.

We did an initial walk through and were told the history as well as some of the reported paranormal happenings for the gymnasium.  

We first went to the boiler room and conducted an EVP session using Ovilus and a ghost box. We also had a video camera going, digital recorders, Melmeters, K-II meters and digital cameras. I personally got no paranormal evidence. The boiler room seemed quiet at that time.  

Our next location was the birth to 3 year old room in the lower level. This room seemed to have the most activity. We heard various noises, child voices and footsteps. There also appeared to be a light colored mist or light that seemed to be peeking into the room from one of the doorways. I captured some EVPs from this session on my recorder and a loud pinging sound that we failed to debunk. After returning to the first floor gym area we heard what sounded like a child's voice coming from the monitor which was set up in the birth to 3 year old room. I am curious to see what the review of that video camera turns up.  

Our final EVP sessions took place in the gym on the main floor and the exercise room downstairs. Both turned up nothing out of the ordinary.  

In summary, the only area that seemed active was the birth to 3 year room. There was also unexplained EMF activity in the gym which seemed to run in a straight line from the side door we entered. This is common according to Diane who conducted the walk through. There were also an unusually high number of proper names given by the Ovilus.


Stan Suho: This was a big building, not that old, but with a lot of paranormal activity reported over the years. We were joined by members from Jeanne's group. After a walkthrough of the Gym floor, the stage, and the lower level rooms, I decided to set up G.E.I.S.T. on the stage where there were tables, chairs and adequate lighting. The full setup was used with the equipment in the monitored room down stairs in one of the active rooms.

Plus, it came equipped with its own trigger object, a little red tricycle, which we made good use of. An EVP session was conducted in the room in which Jeanne rode the bike and tempted the spirits. The entire session was recorded on Ghost Video and Audio.

Later Marge reported hearing a child's voice on the Ghost Amp while I was elsewhere. I reviewed the audio, but could not find it. It may have been the sound of running water from the drain pipes overhead. After a few more EVPs, the night concluded.

Conclusion: After a review on my audio and video and photos, I have nothing paranormal to report.


Evidence collected:

Adult.MPG during a Ghost Box session in the Boiler Room, a question was asked, "Can you tell us if you're an adult or a child?" The Ghost Box responds with, "Adult."

A gym.MPG during a Ghost Box session in the gym area, a question was asked, "What kind of building are we in?" The Ghost Box responds with, "A gym."

Child's voice.MPG during an EVP session a question is asked, "Are you happy that we're here with you?" A child's voice is heard in the background.

Howl in background.MPG the static IR camcorder positioned in the bleachers picks up what sounds like a howl in the background.

Hurry.MPG while conducting an Ovilus X session in the Boiler Room, the Ovilus suddenly says what sounds like, "Hurry get out."

No.MPG during a Ghost Box session in the Boiler Room a question was asked, "Jim, was it you that was following me around?" The Ghost Box responds with, "No."

Screaming.MPG the static IR camcorder positioned in the bleachers picks over the talking of the group the sound of screaming.

Talking in background.MPG the static IR camcorder positioned in the bleachers picks up the strange sounds of people talking in the background.

Thump groan.MPG during an EVP session in the gym area a thump was heard followed by a low moaning sound.

Tinny noise.MPG during an EVP session in the bike room, a tinny noise was heard and recorded but no source could be located.

Voice.MPG right after the Ghost Radar says "Noose", there is a voice that is heard in the background.

Voice2.MPG during an EVP session in the gym area an whispering EVP voice was picked up that sounds like, "comfortable" right before Jeanne says she is having problems getting comfortable on the gym floor.

Yell.MPG the sounds of a strange yell in heard in the background.

Conclusions: In my opinion it was a very quiet and uneventful evening at the gym. While we did receive some EVPs and Ghost Box replies that were interesting, I believe this may have been one of the quietest places that we've investigated recently. This was very apparent in the last two EVP sessions in the gym and exercise room where it was very calm. Perhaps we should have called Diane to come back and interact with the ghosts as it may have yielded more results.

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