There is no question that this was one of the most beautiful homes in the area. The McPike family lived
on at the estate for some time after the death of Henry McPike, but records are unclear about some of the dates. It has been
stated that they stayed in the house until around 1936, while others records say that the home was owned by Paul A. Laichinger,
who purchased the house in 1908 and lived there until his death around 1930. Laichinger either lived in the house or rented
it out to tenants.
The house has been listed in the National
Register of Historic Places. However, it has also been listed on another, not so prestigious list… the Landmarks Preservation
Council of Illinois’ 1998 list of the 10 most endangered historic places in the state!
The years have not been kind to the McPike Mansion and
has been abandoned and in disrepair since the 1950’s. Since that time, weather and vandals have caused some pretty major
damage to the structure. The house once had a number of marble fireplaces and some very extravagant woodwork, but all of that
was stolen during the time it was unoccupied. Windows have been broken, plaster cracked and destroyed, floors have deteriorated
to the point they are not safe to walk on, and worse. The place is in desperate need of repair but the enormous price tag
makes this a daunting task.
But some hope does remain that the McPike Mansion will
not become just a memory. In 1994, Sharyn and George Luedke purchased the house at auction. As of this writing, they are continuing
their efforts to restore the home and turn it into a bed and breakfast or a historical attraction. It has been an uphill battle,
but they have continued trying to bring attention to the house as a historical site with tours and outings
Sharyn Luedke, the owner of the mansion, also believes the
house is haunted. Her unusual encounters at the house carry much more weight, given the time she has spent there, than the
claims of trespassers, so-called psychics and curiosity-seekers who come to the house simply because it looks haunted. There
have been hundreds of stories which have circulated about the mansion, from the chilling to the downright silly, but Sharyn’s
claims that the ghost of Paul Laichinger haunts the place seem to be the most credible. He is one of the few spirits who is
alleged to haunt the place for which a real historical connection exists.
Sharyn says that she had her first encounter with Laichinger’s ghost about six weeks after she
bought the house. She was on the property watering some plants and saw a man standing in the window, looking out toward where
she was standing in the front yard. A chill came over her but she noted that the man, who vanished, was wearing a striped
shirt and a tie. Sharyn has a photograph of Paul Laichinger wearing an identical outfit.
Another spirit in the house is thought to be a domestic servant that Sharyn named Sarah. She was little
more than a presence with an assumed name until a man came by the house one day and presented the Luedke’s with some
books that he had removed from the house 17 years before. One of the books had the name "Sarah Wells" written inside of it.
Since that time, Sharyn has been touched (actually hugged) by this spirit and she and her husband have occasionally caught
the scent of lilac on the third floor.
As mentioned, there have been hundreds of stories told about this house and there are those who claim
that a legion of spirits still haunt the place. The main problem with taking these stories too seriously involves the fact
that his house was locally regarded as the "neighborhood haunted house" for years and was a place where teenagers would come
to hang out and party. In more recent times, the claims of mediums and attention-seekers have further muddied the waters.
This information is from the Mcpike Mansion website: www.mcpikemansion.com
Please visit and help Sharyn in her efforts to restore a wonderful
piece of history.