Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ghost Tours, Haunts and Stories Sure to Thrill


 By Mary Wilson
With the Wornall house closed for repairs through possibly the end of the year, Executive Director Anna Marie Tutera and her staff are busy planning some spooky new Halloween traditions at the Alexander Majors House in South Kansas City. All programming in the fall will be at the Majors house due to construction.
“It gives us an opportunity to showcase this house in a way we haven’t before,” said Tutera. “Wornall house has such a legacy in Kansas City that I feel like the Majors house gets overshadowed.”
Guests are invited to participate in a one-hour, lantern-lit ghost tour of the Alexander Majors House and hear about the ghosts and legends of the Civil War, as well as the strange events and ghosts who are said to still haunt the Majors House and the Wornall House. Chef Shannon Kimball and his ghostly assistants will be onsite each evening to serve a spooky menu consisting of pumpkin
chowder with a side of severed fingers, monster meatballs, broken ribs of beef, bat wings, mulled cider death punch, ghost hunter cake pops and fried worms. These made-from-scratch frightening foods are sure to fill your appetite and set the mood for a night of haunting fun. The ghost tours begin on Friday, October 18, with dates and times available through Halloween night. Ticket prices are $15 per person for the tour, or $25 per person for the tour and dinner. Advance reservations are required to reserve a spot, and space is limited. Call 816-444-1858 to register, or visit www.alexandermajors.com.
“The Majors house hasn’t been investigated as much as the Wornall house,” said Emily Heid, Coordinator of Programs and Development. “But we do have paranormal activity here. They used to hold wakes in the house, and we’ll talk about that and some of the traditions and superstitions that they had.”
If the ghost tours aren’t creepy enough for you, you are also invited to experience a real-time ghost hunt with investigators from ELITE Paranormal of Kansas City and Mystic Moms (recently featured on the BIO Channel’s My Ghost Story: Caught On Camera). Learn how to use equipment, ask questions, and actually try to detect paranormal evidence. This one is okay for young teens (with supervision from a parent/caregiver, as long as the young teens are able to sit quietly in a room and wait for equipment signals), older teens, and adults. Advance registration is required, and tickets are $50 per person.
“Working in the Wornall house, it doesn’t bother me,” said Tutera. “But the Majors house definitely has more of an ominous feel. It might be because it’s more isolated and not in a neighborhood. But, there’s just something about it.”
The Majors house will be the site of a new children’s program this fall, as well. The First Annual Not-So-Spooky Ghost Stories and Autumn Festival event will be on Sunday, October 27, from 1-4 p.m. It offers storytelling, costume parades, palm reading, face painting, blacksmithing, food demonstrations in the 1850s kitchen, samplings of apple treats, and hands-on arts and crafts activities such as making cornhusk dolls, masks, and lanterns. Plus, Chef Kimball will be onsite to serve a menu that may have you howling with delight! Food is not included in the cost of the program ticket of $10 per child. The event is free for adults and children 2 and younger. Tickets will be available at the door, and guests can RSVP by calling 816-444-1858.
“Older kids (middle and high school-aged) will be the docents and they will take you through the  house as you learn about the fall harvest,” said Heid. “It’s a fun, family event and kids can wear their costumes.”
The organization that manages the Wornall house merged with the Majors house in 2011. Tutera and her team are working to bring the Majors house up to full capacity. Currently, the house is only open on weekends, and the past two years have been spent restoring the windows and doors, along with general indoor restoration. Furniture and furnishings from the time period have been selected for the collection.
“We’ve really been working to get this house up to speed as a public museum,” said Tutera. “A lot has been accomplished in a really short amount of time. We’re very proud of that.”
Alexander Majors ran one of the country’s largest freighting companies from Kansas City, created the Pony Express, and gave “Buffalo Bill” Cody his first job. He was essential in helping shape the future of the American West and the commercial destiny of Kansas City. In the westward expansion of the 1850s, his firm’s freighting operations were instrumental in bringing supplies to settlements from the Dakotas to Arizona. The prominence of Majors’ company attracted governmental and private shippers to Westport Landing, giving Kansas City a head start towards economic success.
 Constructed in 1856, Majors’ 3,400 square foot antebellum home in Kansas City is listed on the  National Register of Historic Places. Restored in 1984, the home features original hardwood floors and millwork, as well as furnishings of the era. Also on the site are blacksmithing demonstrations, gardens, and displays of tools, wagons and carriages from the mid-1800s. The Alexander Majors Historic House and Museum is located at 8201 State Line Road in Kansas City. Public tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. Call 816-444-1858 for more information, or visit alexandermajors.com.

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