SAN ANGELO, Texas — For years, Habitat for Humanity has been a beneficial staple of the San Angelo community, helping young families start new chapters of their lives through housing assistance programs, or just by providing affordable materials from its ReStore to maintain the status quo of leak-free roofs, running water and heating/air conditioning to combat our state’s frequently schizophrenic weather.
For more information about any of that, visit Habitat's website, or give them a call at 325-655-7535.
But today, we’re here to talk about the two ghosts they’ve got running around up in there.
“When I first started here at Habitat, they told me about them, and I was real skeptical,” Habitat San Angelo Executive Director Pam Hammer said. “But then after being here for the length of time I’ve been here, I absolutely believe that they’re here and they’re real and they’re stuck.”
The Martin-Glover Co. Building, which is now home to Habitat, is on North Chadbourne Street, just on the edge of historic downtown San Angelo, and was built almost 120 years ago. It was originally a supply warehouse that utilized the train tracks that run by just outside to unload and store various food and sundries before loading them up onto buckwagons to be sold downtown or at Fort Concho.
The old, large building - like most old, large buildings - surely has a rich but undocumented history of the trials and tribulations of those who worked or squatted there. And surely that rich, undocumented history includes a scandal or two.
According to the growing handful of people who have seen or heard strange things there, the two apparitions in question are a woman and a little girl, but luckily for the Habitat staff, they don’t seem to be the kind of stringy-haired, malevolent apparitions you’d normally find climbing out of your TV screen or waiting for you up in Room 237.
“I had a Vista Corp volunteer working with me about 15 months ago, and we heard her singing,” Hammer said. “We heard the little girl singing. We walked around because we thought maybe it was somebody like a homeless person or somebody around the building, but there was nobody around. She was just humming and singing, so obviously she was happy.”
But still, Hammer said she doesn’t get the impression it’s all sunshine and roses in the afterlife. She has a mirror in her office she said will occasionally rattle against the wall after the sun goes down.
“I talk to them when I come in in the morning, I always say hello. So far they’ve never answered me. I do think that when I’m here in the evening and my mirror starts to bounce that they’re ready for me to leave. I don’t know if I’m interrupting anything, or if it’s just that we’ve been here all day and they’re ready to have the building to themselves.”
And then there’s the crying.
“One time that I heard [the woman], she was crying, uncontrollably sobbing. She cried for probably 45 minutes upstairs, and a police officer was with me helping me out in the ReStore. We thought somebody was upstairs. We looked everything over. We looked under boxes, in doors, I mean we went everywhere and there was nobody there. We came back downstairs, and she started crying and sobbing again. It was really gut-wrenching.”
Although Hammer has never actually laid eyes on the spectral duo herself, there are others – both two and four-legged – who have, and do not approve.
“The little girl was spotted by some people who were working on our fire suppression system. Two gentlemen went upstairs to check out some of the pipes that are up there and they both saw the little girl run by them and she was playing ball.”
So how did that go over with these fellas?
“One of them left and he refused to come back, so it really creeped him out.” Hammer said. “He was like ‘I don’t think I need to be here anymore.’ The other one was like, ‘Surely that’s not what we saw.’ If they hadn’t both seen her, it would have maybe been different.”
Hammer said dogs aren’t big fans of the upstairs area, either.
“About twice a year, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice brings in drugs dogs. And the dogs kind of go through this whole building and just check everything out. One of the things they do is go upstairs, and once they get up here, they run around, but when they go into the area with our duct work... they won’t go in there. They go in and then they back out. They don’t turn around and walk out, they back out.”
Whatever it is going on in the building, be it wind drafts, the strange settling sounds of an antiquated building, or two restless souls trapped in limbo for an eternity, there seems to be an unspoken peace agreement between all its inhabitants, past and present.
Most people have had worse roommates.