WHAT DO SPIRITS OR GHOSTS LOOK LIKE?
|People visualize spirits many ways
When someone says the word ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’, what picture pops into your mind? Is it a shadowy and frightening figure; a friendly, sheet-covered creature… or perhaps something in-between? The answer to that question is probably based, at least in part, on two key qualifiers.
•Do you watch horror movies and/or read scary books?
•Do you believe you have had a personal encounter with a ghost or spirit?
People often describe an encounter with the spirit realm using eerily similar terms. Initially, a spine-tingling sensation is felt. There is an instant awareness that something is present which doesn’t fit into normal frames of reference. There is a rush of adrenaline. The fight or flight instinct is awakened. Often the surrounding air changes abruptly. It becomes cold or wet or breezy. The overwhelming sensations occur in an instant and often leave just as quickly. The memory of the encounter is crystal clear, even long after the event. Logic and rational thought cannot make the lingering, uneasy feelings go away.
I recently spoke with two people who not only experienced such encounters, but believe they were fortunate enough to have captured the event on film. As often happens, the images were not visible during these actual encounters, but when the film was later developed, or when the images were downloaded onto a computer, they became evident.
The first of these encounters involves author Terri Grimes, who was visiting the Belleview Biltmore Resort with her husband and young granddaughter. They stayed in a suite, located in one of the oldest sections of the Resort. As they were walking down a seemingly empty hallway, they suddenly heard faint, crackly voices right beside them; voices that did not belong to the present. Terri snapped pictures and sure enough, orbs were floating around them. She continued to snap pictures as her husband walked on down the hall, perhaps eager to move from that location. But something – or someone - stayed with him. Terri got the shadowy, three-dimensional figure on film. Terri’s husband, who hadn’t believed in paranormal experiences until that day, became a believer. They found out later, many such ‘incidents’ had been reported in that section of the Resort. A few days after the encounter in the hallway, they toured the underbelly of the Resort, where servants had toiled day and night during the Resort’s early years. In a section where workers used to bring in luggage from the train, using a hand-pump railroad cart, she felt a chill and snapped a few pictures. Again, orbs are apparent in the photos. Far from being traumatized by their experiences, Terri and her family can hardly wait for the Belleview Biltmore to reopen, so they can try for additional encounters with the spirits who reside there!
Left: Michael's full photograph of Lowe's Barn; Right: Blow-up image of the apparition 'Lady Holding Baby'
The second encounter was experienced by Michael Hill on a warm summer’s day at Heritage Village. Michael had been touring the living museum for a few hours when he came upon the Lowe Barn, built in 1911. This large building has no air conditioning. Its only circulating air comes from the open doors at both ends of its long corridor. Both sides of the Barn are filled with antique carriages, farming equipment and tools, so there is a lot for visitors to see. Michael was touring at a leisurely pace, taking many photographs. All at once, he experienced an extreme chill all over his body. In his peripheral vision, he saw someone rush by him. Assuming it was another visitor, he turned to acknowledge the person, but no one was there. Because the barn is open at both ends, he assumed his eyes had played a trick on him, and convinced himself he had simply witnessed someone dart by the door, rather than someone moving inside the barn. He tried to shake off the odd sensation and renewed his self-guided tour. He shot the photograph he had been preparing to take before the odd sensations had occurred. When he got home and downloaded the photographs to his computer, he was shocked to find the full-body apparition of a woman dressed in Victorian Era clothing and holding what appears to be a baby in her arms. Representatives of TAPSCON have since reviewed the picture and were impressed with the apparition, commenting on how clearly one can make out her silhouette, and even the shape of her hat.
So the next time you feel a sudden chill, take note… or better yet, take pictures! You might find you had an encounter with the spirit realm. And I can just about guarantee that if an apparition shows up in your photographs, it will forever change the image that pops into your mind when someone says the word ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’.
BELLEVIEW BILTMORE RESORT AND RELATED ISSUES UPDATE
It looks like the Belleview Biltmore’s legal issues are finally over! I had advised readers on March 1, 2010, that the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for Pinellas County had denied the petitioners appeal (for more details, check past newsletters.) The petitioners still had 30 days to appeal that second ruling. As of today, 31 days have past. This means the legal path is clear for the wonderful resort renovation to begin. Now if LMREI, the owners of the Resort, can just take care of that pesky business of finding investors or acquiring a $100 million loan, the renovation can get underway. Hopefully there will be more news on that front by the time I write my next newsletter.
Town Commissioners Elected in Belleair
In other related news, the Town of Belleair, home of the famous Belleview Biltmore Resort, recently held an election to fill two of its four Commissioner’s seats. Incumbent and friend of the Belleview Biltmore, Tom Shelly was reelected. The other seat, vacated by retiring Karla Rettstatt, who had also been a strong advocate for historic preservation, was filled by Patricia Irwin.
Although a newcomer to public office, Patricia Irwin’s interests seem to indicate that she will be a strong advocate for the restoration of the Belleview Biltmore Resort. As a member of the town’s Historic Preservation Board, she was involved with developing ordinances designed to protect historic properties in Belleair and she has repeatedly voiced her commitment to preserving the historic building.
I hope you will join with me in welcoming Patricia Irwin to the Board and in thanking retiring Karla Rettstatt for her past service.(email@example.com)
THE VALUE OF HISTORY
Left: The Belleview Biltmore Resort; Right: McMullen log cabin, Heritage Village
Diane Hein, President of Save the Biltmore Preservationists, (www.SaveTheBiltmore.com) told me she often hears comments like, “Why are you working so hard to save the Belleview Biltmore? It’s old and it sits on valuable property. It should be replaced with a modern hotel.” Diane is a very patient woman and spends much of her time trying to educate these individuals about the value of historic preservation. She said she usually succeeds, but not always.
Personally, I am appalled by the lack of significance some people assign to historic buildings. I worry that we are raising our children in such a disposable environment that we forget some things are worth saving. A visit to a historic building connects generations. It opens the imagination and heightens the appreciation for the courage, intelligence and forbearance of the people who accepted the challenge of settling an often hostile environment. Observing the pioneer’s ingenuity and their ability to invent better tools and systems of doing things inspires visitors to open their own minds to possibility. Observing the customs and cultural mandates of days gone by allows us to understand how much we have changed and helps us accept those who possess customs that are different from our own.
Visiting the past demonstrates how far we have come in the last few hundred years. It instills the desire to take on challenges of our own in the hope that future generations will look back in awe at what we were able to accomplish during our own lifetimes, despite existing or perceived limitations. And in doing so, we continue the circle of inspiration and preservation.
I want to enlighten others throughout the world about the value of historic preservation, and join forces with those who already understand this concept. I hope some of you join me in this lofty mission. I am starting close to home. If you are inspired to join in, here are some actions you can take to do so:
* Join local historical societies. They are often charged with the maintenance and oversight of historic structures, so they usually know where the greatest needs are. If you live near the Belleview Biltmore Resort, call: Fran Johnson with questions or to join the Pinellas County Historical Society: 727-582-2233
* Visit historic buildings, and patronize historic hotels, restaurants and other establishments often. Donate a little money if you are able to do so. This is the practical side to preservation. If a historic location is popular and doesn’t become a burden to society, its future is more promising. No matter how valuable a historic building might be; if no one ever goes there, it will be hard to convince others that it will be missed.
* Join Facebook Groups, focused on the cause of historic preservation. The more members that join, the more a historic building can demonstrate its significance to the community:
Facebook “Belleview Biltmore”http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=183052000639&ref=ts
Facebook “Save Heritage Village” http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=398977076074
* Help influence lawmakers to protect historic buildings, whether publicly held or privately owned; even in a tough economy. Don’t be one of the people who sits silently by, ringing their hands and shaking their heads sadly, as vestiges of our past disappear. Just as concerned individuals were able to band together to prevent the extinction of certain species of animals, we can band together to stop the destruction of historic buildings. For those who love the Belleview Biltmore Resort and Heritage Village, you can get started here, but please keep two things in mind:
1) Elected officials usually try to do a good job for the people they serve. Be kind. Your mission is simply to let them know historic preservation issues are important to you. Please DO NOT criticize their past or current performance, as negativism seldom helps a cause.
2) Do not delay. Without the immediate action of concerned citizens, Heritage Village might be lost budget cuts.
Belleair & Pinellas County, FL Government Officials Contact Information:
Belleview Biltmore Resort:
Go to the Town of Belleair’s website: http://www.townofbelleair.com/commission.html Watch for calendar events, where Belleview Biltmore Resort issues are on the agenda and attend the event. There is no greater show of support than people who show up! Send at email to the Town's Commissioners at: Commission@townofbelleair.net, letting them know you care about the Belleview Biltmore Resort and appreciate their efforts to support her renovation. If you prefer snail-mail, you can write letters to the Commissioners: Town of Belleair Commission, 901 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Belleair, FL 33756
Follow the lead of Nicole Ledford, David Allen and others who are working hard to make sure Pinellas County Commissioners know you care about the Village. Click on this link to Pinellas County Government: (www.PinellasCounty.org) Under the ‘Contact Us’ tab, click on ‘Help Form, All Topics’. Select a specific category (pick: Contact County Commissioners; Parks and Recreation; or Other) and write an e-mail, expressing your concerns. If possible, offer a personal experience you might have had at Heritage Village that demonstrates its value to the community.
SPIRITS OF THE BELLEVIEW TEACH
"Pearls" (Working Title & Cover)
As this newsletter clearly points out, I am a bit of a history enthusiast, but not in the traditional sense. I am more interested in the lives of everyday people than I am in red letter events. For instance, when thinking about the Revolutionary War, I am more interested in the conflict of a mother who had children fighting on both sides of the war, than I am in Washington’s crossing the Delaware.
The Spirits of the Belleview novels are based on the lives of such ordinary women and the supposition that identical conflicts have faced women generation after generation. The spirit characters in these stories depict strong women who overcame extreme adversity by using their wits and by helping one another. When women of our time come to stay at the Belleview Biltmore Resort, the commonality of a specific adversity allows a connection to form between the living and certain spirits.
Although The Spirits of Belleview teach the living important lessons, they are not like the spirits in “A Christmas Carol”. They don’t scare the individual into submission. In fact, they don’t scare at all… well, at least not intentionally. Instead, they show the woman glimpses from their own past and allow her to draw lessons from the similarities