GuyNel Johnson is a bonafide storyteller. Some of her tales, however, will chill your bones. The Old Town resident has collected a number of ghost stories from her friends and neighbors, spine-tingling encounters of the world beyond the veil.

But with the tangible connection to the past, she is not surprised.

“Almost every house in Old Town has a ghost because the homes are well over 100 years old,” Johnson said.

“There is a quote I heard once and it says, ‘Everyone who ever lived in a home left part of their energy there.’ I think that’s true, everybody leaves something behind. There are layers of stories.”

That certainly goes for her George Street home, which was built in 1922. Johnson moved in one scorching Southern summer, and it didn’t take long before she realized she was not, in fact, alone.

“I have one of those huge cast iron bathtubs and after one hot day of moving I filled it up with hot water and bubbles then got in,” she recalled. “I was alone in the house. Then I saw someone walk past the door.”

The figure that slipped past the frame moved quickly, leaving only a whisper of a navy dress.

“I noticed when they walked by that they had a limp. ... just for a moment I wondered if someone was in my house. But the dogs didn’t bark,” she recalled.

Rather than packing up and moving out — as many would do after such an encounter — Johnson remained calm. She says that she’s had quite a few similar brushes with the other side throughout her life.

“I had seen things before and in other places. My grandmother and great-grandmother had too. They say it runs in families. I just thought ‘Oh great, my house is haunted,’” she said with a laugh.

Johnson accepted the fact that she’d have to share her spaces with a spectral roommate. And after a bit of research, she discovered who that may be.

“I found out there was a lady who died here. She had diabetes … and had lost a leg,” she said. “So it would make sense that she would be limping.”

That was only the beginning. Johnson experienced anomalies on videos taken in the home and her dog, Percy, also witnessed unexplained phenomenon. Once, she says, she saw a clear, full-bodied apparition.

“I was in my back office and my dog, a poodle, was sitting in the living room and made this weird bark. He was just staring into my dining room, so I walked over and looked where he was looking … there was a woman in the dining room,” she said. “She was so clear, yet I could see my dining room table right through her.”

Johnson remembered that the specter moved very purposefully and was dressed in clothes of a bygone era, likely the 1940s.

“She had her pocketbook on. She had blond hair. It was just so clear … then she walked through the wall and was gone,” Johnson said. “I’ve never seen her again.”

Once again, Johnson kept her cool and rather than Googling “Ghostbusters,” she sat down and tried to document everything she could recall.

“I immediately sat down and wrote out everything I could remember. I did not want to forget a thing,” she said.

She has had many other experiences since. None of them, she notes, have been negative.

“The office was added on to the home in the 1930s because the lady owned an alterations shop. She set the space up as her sewing room so people could come without interfering with the the household,” she said.

“But now I hear things in there all the time … like someone rummaging through drawers that aren’t there and sometimes the radio.”

Then, there’s the inexplicable scents, though, this report is one that many would welcome.

“I had some guys who worked on my house for a while when it was vacant. And they would always say they would come in and, it would smell like cookies baking,” Johnson said.

Many of her neighbors have become familiar with those stories. And they have shared the tales of their homes. One such Old Town homeowner has a ghost that she typically sees twice a year.

“There’s a home that was a boarding house back in the 40s and a lot of the workers who built the Liberty Ships were staying there. And now they see a man in overalls and a scarf around his neck, outside smoking,” Johnson said.

“They have lived there for 20 years and, they say they see him about twice a year.”

The Old Town hauntings are so plentiful that Johnson organized a tour a couple of years ago which focused on these plentiful paranormal happenings.

“When I decided to do this tour, I knew that I wanted all the stories to be true. So I interviewed everyone about what they heard or what they saw to really leave out the possibility that it may have happened another way,” she said.

The tour, which featured 12 homes though more could have been added, was very successful. In fact, it was such a hit that Johnson had to add another trip to accommodate the crowd. While they haven’t hosted the tour since 2018, they were not surprised by its popularity.

“I think that really ghost stories are appealing to people because almost everyone has either had any experience or knows someone who has, but I think it’s just an innate in curiosity in human beings,” she said.

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