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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ghost Story: Hetty Fredrickson And Her Haunted Mansion

In December 1965, Hetty and Douglas Fredrickson moved into a fourteen room house on Williams Street in Chilliwack, BC. Months later, they would move back out, after the most strange and unsettling experience of their lives.

Shortly after moving into the house, they started noticing odd things happening. They would hear the sound of heavy breathing, footsteps on the stairs, and an intense smell of perfume in the air. In one unused bedroom there was an old iron bed and a chest of drawers, whose drawers would often be found open when they should have been closed. Once, Hetty saw the misty glowing shape of a human. While these incidents were frightening, what really scared Hetty was a vivid reoccurring nightmare she had started having.

In the dream, she saw a woman lying on a hall floor. She wore a bright red and yellow dress and had a look of pure terror on her face. Her arms were raised to partially cover her head, and she could see dust blowing around the woman.

When everything had first begun to happen, everyone made jokes about ghosts being in the house, but it wasn’t until doors started opening on their own, and the footsteps became louder, that Hetty went to town to ask residents about the history of the house that the real fear set in. The house had been built in 1912 and there were no blueprints or records of it. There had been a fair number of people who had lived in the house, and there was no way to trace a woman who had a red and yellow dress.

There had been a period of ten years, which two men committed suicide in the house. But out of respect, Hetty did not inquire into their stories anymore, not wanting to upset their families. There was another woman who was supposed to have been killed in the house and then cemented in the chimney, but no one was ever able to verify that rumour.

Eventually, Hetty decided she had to do something. Find some way to prove what was going on in her house. Being an artist, she decided to do a painting of the ghost, hoping that the ghost would be motivated to move the painting as it did the other furniture.

She sat in the unused room for a few nights, trying to get the right motivation for the painting. She hoped that the furniture would be moved in her presence, or that she would see something. She eventually painted a large picture of the ghost-like figure, and since she wanted to make it somewhat mysterious, Hetty decided to leave half the face blank.

She placed the painting between the iron bed and the chest of drawers, and then checked often to see if the painting had been moved at all. The painting never moved, and Hetty tired of this experiment.

After a few weeks, Hetty started to show some of her students the painting she had done. One day, she noticed that there was a slight difference in the appearance of the ghost woman. She thought that it was perhaps her imagination getting the better of her, and didn’t say anything to anyone about what she was seeing. As each day went by after that, she couldn’t help but notice the painting still changed.

The half of the face she had left bare started to show features. The half that showed the woman’s face had started to change as well. The look of terror was going away and the face went from looking female to looking more masculine. Now the people who had seen the painting before, had started to notice the changes too.

The next thing she knew, the media was curious and started hanging around her house after hearing about the stories and the changing painting. Thousands of people showed up at her house to try and get a glimpse of the painting, while phone calls and tons of letters made normal-life impossible.

Meanwhile, Hetty was still trying to figure out what was happening. She started snooping around her house. She found a hidden room in the turret (which was supposed to be just for decoration) and was shocked when she saw the same dust she had seen in her reoccurring dream. It turned out the dust was particles from the deteriorated insulation. But other than the dust, the room was empty.

Next, Hetty found a boarded up laundry chute, going from the top floor of the house to the kitchen. Nothing was to be found in the laundry chute. She then started talking about tearing the walls down to search the cemented chimney and her husband Douglas stepped in and forbad her from doing it.

With all the attention her painting and the house was getting, it was becoming impossible to live there anymore. Douglas, who was a logger, used to go off to logging camps and be gone for a few weeks at a time, and Hetty had never minded being able to spend some time by herself, but now she did not want to stay alone in this house.

She eventually went back home to Holland to visit her parents and have a break, then moved to Vancouver Island with Douglas and their children. After leaving the house in Chilliwack empty for awhile, they rented it out, only later to sell it. Eventually, it was finally it burnt to the ground. Whatever secrets that house held—we won’t probably ever know.

Meanwhile, Hetty still had the painting with her. She had many people looking to buy it from her, but couldn’t bring herself to do it. She eventually donated the painting to charity, bringing in a lot of money for the orphans she donated it for, the story ending on a positive note.

Hetty, Douglas and their children moved on in their lives and as to where that painting is now—I do not know. As to what resides where their old house was, I do not know that either.

But hopefully if people live on that location, they are no longer disturbed by the unknown.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I knew My cousins lived not too far from the haunted house on Williams. I still remember my cousin Don telling me the story as we were out walking one night in the winter of 1966/67. I have seen references to the haunting on Facebook occasionally but I have not seen the pictures of the painting before. I no longer believe in ghosts but that story still brings goosebumps.