This is allegedly the home of Chicago’s most famous ghost “Resurrection Mary”, a ghost that is said to haunt the surrounding highway, cemetery and theWillowbrook Ballroom. One monument appropriately named “Resurrection of Christ” is situated adjacent to the cemetery’s chapel. The large gray stone figure said to be a favorite of Resurrection Mary. Reports describe Mary dancing at the foot of this monument on more than one occasion.
Mary has been seen by more people than any other single ghost within the
Chicagoland area. This blonde-hair,
blue-eyed beauty has been seen since the latter 1930's.
According to legend, she had gone to a dance at the O’Henry Ballroom,
now called the Willowbrook Ballroom at
of the very first persons to have encountered her was a south side man by the
name of Gerald Palus who used to frequent the Liberty Grove and Hall near
had apparently seen her there on more than one occasion and had decided to ask
her to dance with him. They
conversed very little throughout the evening and Palus noticed the only thing
strange about her was that she was ice cold to the touch.
Her beauty and charm more than made up for her icy chill.
He even commented, “Cold hands, warm heart” to which there was no
11:30 p.m. approached, he decided that it was time to leave and offered her a
ride home to which she gave him an address in the
next day he visited the address she had given her and was told by the woman who
answered the door even before Palus rang the bell that he couldn’t have
possibly been with her daughter as she had been dead for sometime.
He correctly identified her in a picture that sat on a piano in the front
Main is the only man known to have encountered Resurrection Mary on more than
one occasion. While a night manager
at Harlow’s once located at
was about 24 to 30 years-old, five foot eight or nine, slender, with yellow
blond hair to her shoulders that she wore in these big spooly curls coming down
from a high forehead. She was really
pale, like she had powdered her face and her body.
She had on this old dress that was yellow, like a wedding dress left in
sat right next to the dance floor and she wouldn’t talk to anyone.
She danced all by herself, this pirouette-type dance.
People were saying, ‘Who is this most bizarre chick?’”
the strangest thing was, even though we carded everyone who came in there - I
worked the door, and there were waitresses and bartenders and people there -
nobody, either night, ever saw her come in and never saw her leave.”
Even in his wildest dreams did
more mysterious encounter happened to a cab driver that apparently came in
contact with her ghost near the intersection of
was Thursday night - would have been two weeks ago - and I was lost,
basically,” says Ralph, a cab driver.
dropped this big spender way the hell down in Palos Heights or Hills or
someplace like that and was trying to make my way back to the toll way.
I’d just turned on to Archer, down there where it’s still a lonely
road, especially at midnight.
there she was. She was standing
there with no coat on by the entrance to this little shopping center.
No coat! And it was one of
those real cold ones, too.
didn’t put out her thumb or nothing like that.
She just looked at my cab. Of
course, I stopped. I figured maybe
she had car trouble or something.
hopped right in the front seat. She
had on this fancy kind of white dress, like she’d just been to a wedding or
something, and those new kinds of disco-type shoes, with the straps and that.
was a looker. A blond.
I didn’t have ideas or like that; she was young enough to be my
daughter - 21 tops.
asked her where she was going and she said she had to get home.
I asked her what was wrong, if she’d had car trouble or what but she
really didn’t answer me. She was
fuzzy. Maybe she’d had a couple of
drinks or something or was just tired. I
“Oh, the only thing she did say really was ‘The snow came early this year’ or ‘The snows came early this year’ or like that. Other than that she just nodded when I asked sometimes if we were supposed to just keep going up Archer. She was just looking out the window at the snow and the trees and that. Her mind was a million miles away. Maybe she smoked something or something. Who knows?
couple of miles up Archer there, she jumped with a start like a horse and said
‘Here! Here!’ I hit the brakes.
looked around and didn’t see any kind of house.
‘Where?’ I said. And then
she sticks out her arm and points across the road to my left and says
‘There!’ And that’s when it
looked to my left, like this, at this little shack.
And when I turned she was gone. Vanished!
And the door never opened. May
the good Lord strike me dead, it never opened.”
refused to give his last name, address or phone number fearing that his name
would be used in a newspaper article and he would appear to be a raving lunatic.
The ballroom was closed Friday, January 12th, and for about
two weeks thereafter, owing to a major blizzard that had blanketed the snow with
heavy snow. But Thursday, the 11th
it was open until midnight, an estimated ten minutes before Ralph says he picked
up this blonde hitchhiker. And it
was a special night in the ballroom: a singles night, for those without escorts
to come and dance the waltz and the foxtrot just the way they did here for 40
In May of 1978, in a slightly different type of encounter a young couple, Shawn and Gerry Lape, were driving down Archer when they suddenly saw a girl running across the road in front of them towards the cemetery. She yelled at her husband, “Watch out for that woman!” He later recalled how he hit the brakes but knew it was too late and that he was going to strike the woman with the right front fender of the car. As they braced for the impact, he saw the car cut right through the image and then rapidly began melting away until it was nothing more than a soft blur on the side of the road before completely disappearing.
Tuesday night, August 10, 1976, the Justice Police Department received a phone
call from a man who stated that he was driving past the cemetery gates when he
apparently saw a girl locked in after hours.
It was going on 10:30 p.m. when a police officer responded to the call.
Patrolman Pat Homa looked for the girl with his spotlight and then
calling out on his loudspeaker but to no avail.
in shining his flashlight around the gates, he discovered that two of the bars
had been pulled apart. Imbedded in
the metal were the impressions of handprints.
On the surface of the green patina of the bronze were scorch marks and
within what looked like skin texture as though someone had seared the marks into
the bars. He related this story on
the paranormal television show “That’s Incredible” and lost his job
The marks looked like they had been made by human hands and crowds flocked to the main gates to gawk at the bars that Resurrection Mary had bent. In an effort for crowd control, the cemetery attempted to blowtorch the marks off but it had the opposite effect. Now the bars were blackened and could easily be seen from Archer, and consequently more people showed up than ever. Disgusted with the publicity, and with Halloween approaching, the cemetery hack sawed the bars and installed a fine wire mesh for security reasons until the bars could be straightened and replaced.
cemetery denies this story emphatically. According
to a cemetery worker, Chet Kowalkowski, as reported in a Chicago Tribune
article, October 25, 1992, a front-end loader truck that backed into the gates
while doing sewer work bent the bars. According
to Kowalkowski, the grounds workers tried to restore the bars to their original
position by heating them with a blowtorch and bending them.
The imprint in the blackened metal, he said, was of a worker’s glove.
However, if that is true then why haven’t the marks reverted back to
their green colored state that is caused by the oxidation of the bronze when
exposed to the elements? It has been
over twenty years and to this day the area where the handprints were discovered
is still a blackened area.
August 12, 1976, just two days after the bars were discovered bent, a Cook
squad car investigating a CB radio emergency radio call about an apparent hit
and run automobile victim arrived near the intersection of 76th Street
and Roberts Road. What they found was a girl in her
1965 Ford Mustang, CB microphone still in her hands in tears.
They asked the girl, where the body was that she had just reported on the
side of the road? She pointed to an
area marked by a depression in the soft, wet grass that evening and which
appeared to conform to the shape of a human body.
The girl said that just as the squad car turned off
man going to work about 2:30 a.m. had just passed Chet’s Melody Lounge on his
way to Argo Cornstarch when he saw a body of a woman lying right in front of the
gates. He stopped his pickup truck
to look at the young lady. She was
still alive, so he went straight to the police station, got an ambulance and
came right back there. However, the
body was gone! The impression where
the body was lying was still there though.
October 10, 1979 there was a massive blackout in and along
taped organ music, alarm system and lights go on and off by themselves for no
explainable reason. There were
reports by construction workers building the structure that the large religious
statues would always be found in a different location when crews arrived the
next day for work. Some form of
teleportation was taking place here.
Between the gates and the mausoleum he said his headlights hit the figure and it was a girl in a long flowing white dress. “She walked right up to the end of the road,” Nick said, “then she just walked right into the middle of my lane. I could see her clearly. She was walking very slowly and I took my foot off the pedal and the car began to slow.”
guessed that he was traveling around 35 MPH an hour and estimates that the
figure was in his sight for roughly ten seconds.
walked to the median strip, hesitated for a minute, and that’s when I passed
her. She had her palms kind of
turned up and I don’t think she was wearing any shoes.
I thought at first it was a kid, pulling a prank.
But it was so dark, so desolate. Nobody
else was on the road. She just
walked right out there in the middle, a shorthaired blonde girl, with this
flowing white dress, her hands outstretched like that.
It was creepy!”
last weekend in August 1980 between Friday night and Sunday morning, Mary was
seen by dozens of people. Many who
called the Justice Police to report they had just seen her.
Squad cars were dispatched and although the police could not explain the
mass sightings, they did find a number of people, many who flagged down the
squad cars to report what they had just seen.
Deacon of the Greek Church on Archer claimed to her seen a ghostly form near the
cemetery on August 29, 1980. The
Valley Times investigated his story, a newspaper published in
September 7, 1980, Claire Lopez Rudnicki was traveling with her boyfriend and
another couple along
they drove past her slowly, Mark was watching her and tried to get a glimpse of
her face and was shocked to see that she had no face!
All that was seen was a black void where the face would have been!
He immediately turned around and by the time they had arrived at the
point where they had previously seen her, she was no longer there.
She had vanished from sight.
5, 1980 was apparently a very good and a very remarkable encounter that happened
to a south side man. Tony was a
non-believer and was driving south on Archer after leaving a softball game on
that Friday night. As he passed the
Red Barrel Restaurant on Archer near
asked him to take her down Archer. He
tried to draw her into conversation but it was no good.
Every question was answered with, “Just take me down Archer.”
He said to her, “You look like Resurrection Mary but I know there’s
no such thing as Resurrection Mary.” The
ghost wouldn’t be drawn into that conversation at all.
tried to get her to Chet’s Lounge. He
asked her if she’d like a drink. No
response. From the stoplight at 63rd
and Archer until he got past the main gates of the cemetery, his foot never left
the gas pedal. He was going 45 MPH.
He made one last attempt to get the girl who was in the car to his right
to open up a bit, when suddenly she was no longer there!
He hadn’t stopped at all! He
was unable to explain what had happened to the girl.
before Christmas of 1980, she was seen dancing down the street, east of
a warm night in mid-June 1981, Robin Scott and her husband were driving down a
lonely country road when they saw a girl in a white evening gown with ruffles
and a red satin sash walking along the highway.
She allegedly smiled and waved at the couple with a small white
pulled over, rolled the window down and asked where she was going.
To the prom, she replied. The
couple decided to give her a lift to the school.
When they arrived, she got out and pleasantly said, “Thanks” and just
vanished into thin air!
woman who tends bar at Johnny’s Route 83, located on Rt. 83 across from 107th
Street saw a ghostly figure of a woman in 1983.
She had been working there for about four weeks at the time of the
sighting. He first Friday night
after work, she was driving down Archer near
a Saturday in October 1983, three employees of the Willowbrook Ballroom believed
they may have caught a glimpse of Mary. Nancy
Buck and two co-workers were walking to the parking lot after finishing their
shift when they spotted a young woman possibly in her early 20's, with long,
dark-blond hair who was dressed rather strangely walking along
October of 1989 Janet Kalal and Pamela Turlow-Wison set out on an evening drive.
After about an hour, they found themselves at
slacked off in the 1990's with a few exceptions.
A local truck driver encountered a strange female figure in 1991 while
hauling materials for a trucking firm. A
most unusual very recent sighting happened to GRS member, Mark Harry Gordon and
his mother, Dolores Joan Gordon on Halloween night of 1997.
a night we have gone to ghost sites visited previously with Excursions Into
The Unknown, Inc., and sure enough lights were on in the Mausoleum at
we drove around
were looking around as we passed and saw nothing out of the ordinary other than
the odd blinking of the street lights--not all of them just one on
in front of us passed and looked at her in disbelief rubbing their eyes to be
sure they really saw her as well as ourselves.
In fact we looked to see if there was a car or group waiting for her
thinking it must be a Halloween trick and not a treat.
was all alone, not a care in the world. No
one was near by who might have been with her.
There was no place to go to a costume party or bus.
It was right along the fence of the cemetery.
In fact police were at the entrance so no one could enter.
She was coming from their direction so I’m sure they would not have let
her pass without questioning or observing her.
The lady in the car in front of us made a U-turn in the middle of Archer
and headed back west. By the time we
looked in the rearview mirror, she was gone!
was dressed in a white dress with tiers of a sort of lace only pictured in old
pictures of the 1930's. It had a
limp look that just hung, not like the type of fabrics used nowadays.
She also had a lacy material on her head as well as holding in her two
hands a spray of red roses attached to a holder like girls would carry in a
wedding years ago. Now it is not
seen that way, as a nosegay or small bouquet or corsage would be the thing used.
There were red roses around the front of her neck and chest and it looked
as if she had stood up to a wedding in days gone by, or buried that way.
You couldn’t see her shoes, as her dress was long and covered her feet.
It was truly out of the past, as it looked old-fashioned.
made U-turns to pass her again, but she was no longer there.
We made a round of the cemetery the long way in six and a half minutes.
By then no one was around. After
making four more rounds of the Resurrection Triangle, we noticed we were not
alone, as a couple of cars in front of us and at least one directly behind us
were the same ones from before. They
too were trying to get a second glimpse.
she Resurrection Mary, the ghost that people have been seeing for about 70 years
night, hooded figures wearing dark clothing can certainly give you the slip by
running into the shadows or hiding behind larger tombstones.
But how easy is it to hide a blazing bonfire in just a few seconds?
That is exactly what happens. It
is a true enigma.
all the years of silence and alleged cover up of the story and identity of
Resurrection Mary, suddenly the day before Halloween 1983, the Southtown
Economist released a story by Rich Szczepkowicz of everything you wanted to know
about Resurrection Mary but were afraid to ask.
Or at least told that she did not exist at all.
believe that she is Mary Bregovy who died in an automobile accident on March 10,
1934 and was buried at
was born April 7, 1912, used to live at 4611 S. Damen Avenue in Chicago and was
waked at the Satala Funeral Home, 4744 S. Damen Avenue.
John Satala remembers preparing the body and how she was dressed.
She had a very pretty orchid dress and he remembers having to stitch part
of her face due to the accident.
accident was reported briefly in the Chicago Tribune, March 11, 1934:
Killed in Crash. Miss Maries [sic]
Bregovy, 21 years old, 4611 S. Damen Avenue, was killed last night when the auto
in which she was riding cracked up at [word missing] Street and Wacker Drive.
John Reiker, 23, of
El substructure in question is located in downtown
the article came out in 1983, Vern Rutkowski, who knew Mary Bregovy in real life
produced several faded photographs showing Mary standing on the running boards
of old Model A’s and T’s. However
these photographs show her as having short brown or dark wavy hair cut just past
her cheekbones and not the long blonde hair always reported in the Resurrection
1992 Chicago Tribune article indicated that records kept at the Satala Funeral
Home described Mary Bregovy as a 17-year-old factory worker who died en route to
So what does this all add up to?
We have a beautiful blond or dark brown haired young women who was either
killed in downtown Chicago from being thrown from a vehicle that had struck an
elevated train support or was run down by a hit and run driver along Archer
Avenue, who ranges in age from 17 to almost 22 and was supposedly buried in
Resurrection Cemetery in a plot that cemetery officials in unmarked, was moved
or never existed. A ghost that
either bent the cemetery bars in an attempt to prove her existence or a careless
cemetery worker simply backing into the bars.
The debate ranges on. What is
for sure are all the many credible, sober, reliable and highly educated people
who have encountered something unusual along
residents, ghost researchers and the patrons of Chet’s Melody Lounge are firm
believers in Mary. Every Halloween
bartenders place a drink at the end of the bar just in case she decides to make
an appearance. The Ballad of
Resurrection Mary is played in the jukebox and T-shirts, sweatshirts and buttons
now flood the market as well. Even a
rap version entitled “Rez Mary” was released a few years ago.
you ever find yourself along
This is probably the only known video footage of the bent bars by the main gates. It was shot in 1976 with a Super8 camera.
Resurrection Gates 1976
Courtesy of Suburban Tribune, January 31, 1979 and Bill Geist
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
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Web site created by Dale Kaczmarek