Many communities can lay claim to haunted aspects of their towns.
The sheer historic characteristics of many areas of our country lend easily to stories of the paranormal, unusual, and downright ghostly.
Lee’s Summit is no different.
I remember when I moved here in 2009 almost immediately hearing mystical stories from building owners, historians, and long-time residents, especially in our downtown area.
It’s no wonder, too, with 150 years of history, including a train depot that brought with it the sadness and realities of multiple wars and numerous fires over the years.
As Kathy Smith, our resident historian in Lee’s Summit knows and points out, the train depot alone lends itself to story after story of loss and heartache. She’s received many tips of haunted and paranormal activity over the years. Much of it coming from buildings with more than a century of history and, likely, some wicked stories to tell.
Imagine the scenes over the decades at 9 S.E. Third Street, first a home to the original Lee’s Summit hospital and later the Dayton Hotel, where Dr. Ragsdale took his own life. Stories have been for years floated of footsteps — pacing, in fact — being heard above them by those on the ground floor.
Or the old Commercial Hotel at Third and SW Main Streets, the site of the former hotel and Bank of Lee’s Summit has long been rumored to be haunted by an old innkeeper or even a “ghost cowboy” whose spurs can be heard at night rattling across the wooden floors upstairs.
When an area is as entrenched in history as downtown Lee’s Summit, there are assuredly the stories, the history, the tales, and yarns, that will come with it — passed down from generation to generation, from store owner to employee.
Each year, Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street conducts a wildly popular Haunted & Historic Tour. And the byproducts are multifold and to the benefit of the business district.
Haunted is entertaining. For those who believe that have experienced supernatural activity or are interested in the topic, this tour gives a firsthand account from many buildings and angles in downtown. And historic is, honestly, an extremely important component to this tour as well.
Telling the stories of the 1909 building as a former fire station and mayor’s office; talking about the history museum and its offerings; discussing fires that ravaged many areas of downtown, including Third and Douglas and near Third and Market Streets; sharing history of buildings that housed the commerce in downtown Lee’s Summit that brought offerings of everything from furniture to groceries to caskets and mortuary services — all of this helps keep our history alive and relevant.
Are there haunted buildings in downtown Lee’s Summit?
History would tell us that is highly likely. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, sharing our past, our beginnings, our roots, and talking about our downtown is always constructive.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.