One night when I brought the tour into the Florentine Ballroom, we were standing around by the piano when someone asked me what kind of music would have been played in the room.
“All sorts, at various times,” I said. “There were orchestras at one point, and it was a skating rink for a while.”
“How about when Roosevelt was here?”
I thought back to my research into the Bull Moose party, which used the ballroom often during the 1912 presidential election – it was here, in fact, that Roosevelt announced he was leaving the Republican party to be the candidate of the more-progressive Bull Moose Party
“They were into ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,'” I said. “They used to have bands of confederate veterans play it while Union veterans played Dixie. And people would interrupt his speeches to sing it. It was a pretty exciting party.”
And, just out of curiosity, I reached out to the piano and picked out a very bad version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
The effect was so spooky that I decided on the spot to try it more often. I make a point of eliminating as much BS as possible from the stories on my tours, but I’m not above adding a little atmosphere here and there. I’ll leave lights turned off for no particular reason, put the flashlight under my chin, and all of those simple tricks.
The other night, I played the piece again – I’ve gotten slightly better at it with practice. A spooky, slow, high-register version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
And, as we walked away from the piano, we heard another solitary, high-pitched piano note come out of nowhere.
It was heard twice more that night – and was witnessed by a security guard. The notes were faint, but seemed to come from the general direction of the piano.
Now, this sort of trick – trying to get a ghost to play piano or roll a ball around or tap on a table – doesn’t work very often. I don’t mind trying it out on investigations, but it’s usually just for fun, or to kill time. You don’t expect to get results with this sort of thing. But on this night, after I played the scratchy tune, maybe a ghost wanted to correct my mistakes!
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, there were several exhaust fans (and all the accompanying belts and engines) running near the room, which made sounds like crickets. It’s certainly not impossible that they would have made a noise like a piano note, or that the acoustics in the room would have made us think the sound was coming from a piano. You have to allow for a lot of “maybe my imagination ran away with me” on any ghost investigation.
But man, was that ever cool!