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Former Athens funeral home provides a haunting experience

ATHENS — The address is 100 South Jefferson Street, right smack dab in the middle of Athens’ popular Downtown Square.

It was once a funeral home, built in 1830, and if that is not eerie enough, a manifest for coffins-in and coffins-out is still posted near the staircase leading upstairs.

256 Today has teamed up with Southern Ghost Girls Tours to bring you four of North Alabama’s most notorious and proven haunted places for the Halloween season. This is the third installment of the series.

After the funeral home built a modernized facility in the 1960s, several businesses have resided in the space.

Southern Ghost Girls Tours at former Boneyard Antiques in downtown Athens (photos courtesy of My Cullman Television)

Several years ago, Boneyard Antiques moved into the first and second floors. Rumor has it the business moved out rather abruptly because “it was so haunted.” However, the current occupants, Square Clock Coffee and the Epiphany Boutique, who have been there since 2020, were told a different story.

The former antique dealers are said to have moved to the Gulf Coast, but they called in Lesley Ann Hyde and her Southern Ghost Girl Tours and paranormal investigators no less than six times while they were there. They wanted to get to the bottom of the strange goings-on there – including footsteps, antique children’s spinning tops whirling by themselves, and items falling off shelves for no discernible reason.

But what Hyde and her team found there was more than poltergeist-like pranks.

Southern Ghost Girl Lesley Ann Hyde uses dowsing rods to communicate with a spirit named Rose at the former Boneyard Antiques in Athens (photos courtesy of My Cullman Television)

“It was common for weird things to happen in front of customers like objects moving, disembodied footsteps when there was no one there, and the feeling of a shadowy figure standing nearby,” said Hyde, founder of Southern Ghost Girls Tours. “We had huge ghost tours and successful investigations there, and we even taped a TV show for ‘My Cullman Television’.”

One of the owners of the Boneyard admitted on camera his wife had “bad vibes” and he was often there late at night by himself, swearing he heard footsteps when no one was there. He also said customers often came to the counter “freaking out” by objects moving without being touched and saying they “had to leave” because the bad feeling was so strong.

Hyde said there was a “heavy” feeling from the moment she walked into the store, but as they made their way back to the crematorium, an entity who called herself Rose, made herself known. The lights went out temporarily and Hyde said she suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling of hatred surrounding her.

Southern Ghost Girls chat with former owner of Boneyard Antiques about their paranormal investigation (photos courtesy of My Cullman Television)

They made their way to the “cooler” where bodies were once kept and it was there sirens on the investigators’ equipment, including REM pods and electromagnetic field detectors, began blaring from every corner of the room. Within minutes, all the batteries in their instruments, which had been replaced before arriving, died at once. (Click here to read more about the equipment used for paranormal investigations).

“Rose was not the negative energy we were feeling,” said Hyde.

“I have a feeling ‘Jake’ is here’,” she told the film crew. Jake is the name the shopkeepers had given the male entity.

Among the blaring equipment alarms, there was a pervasive drop in temperature and Tabitha Wilson and Kristin Blanchard, two of Hyde’s investigators, began complaining of chills and disorientation.

Southern Ghost Girls acknowledge persistent bursts from their paranormal investigative equipment after the spirit of an entity that calls itself Jake shows up. (Photos courtesy of My Cullman Television)

A distorted and hateful voice began coming across the ghost box. It said “No”, “yeah”, “sluts”.

“What do you want me to do, Jake?” Hyde asked.

“Go” came clearly across the ghost box.

“You want me to leave?” Hyde asked.

“Do it,” the voice said. “Hurt her. Yeah.” And “Girls”.

Hyde said she was not afraid of him, but the bad feeling was too strong, exacerbated by the screaming REM pods.

“As a psychic, I get visions of a man in the 1930s and, over the course of several investigations, whenever we tried to delve into what might have happened there, this male spirit would physically touch us, make us feel sick, or dizzy,” Hyde said. “We do not call on evil spirits, but I had a sense this was an evil and malevolent spirit that sent chills through all of us.”

It was a few days later that the reality of what they had experienced became manifest.

“What is so crazy is that a few days after that investigation, I got a phone call from a woman who did not identify herself, nor did she confirm the name ‘Jake’, but she began crying over the phone,” Hyde said. “She said the entity we were communicating with at Boneyard Antiques the other night is her grandmother’s husband, and he was a bad guy.

“She said he was an embalmer who, in 1935, was arrested for desecrating women’s dead bodies and he went to jail for it.”

Speaking with Alyssa Thomas, who works at Square Clock Coffee, she said she has not experienced any unexplained occurrences herself since they moved into the space two years ago, but “It is definitely a spooky place.”

Hyde said there is something else to consider with the Boneyard Antiques haunting.

“If the current occupants do not use the upstairs space for anything but storage, and they have not noticed the same occurrences others experienced, it is possible Jake, or whoever he is, and the hauntings, were attached to the antiques or even just one of the antiques that is no longer in that space,” she said.

Next week, it’s a local Halloween treat when 256 Today and the Southern Ghost Girls Tours investigate Huntsville’s Lowry House.

To book a Southern Ghost Girls Tour, click here.

To read about the haunting of Sweetwater Mansion in Florence, click here.

To read about the haunting of Decatur’s Old State Bank, click here.

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