INDIANAPOLIS — In its 130 year history, countless visitors, employees and elected officials have walked the historic halls of the Indiana Statehouse.
But according to the legends that make up the mythos of the structure, not everyone has survived the trip inside, and the spirits of those unfortunate souls continue to linger at 200 W. Washington St. to this day.
Scott Alexander, a master officer with the Indiana State Capitol Police, is one of the tellers of tales. Alexander has spent 21 of his 26 years in law enforcement keeping the statehouse complex safe.
Along the way he has gotten familiar with the spirits that supposedly haunt the statehouse while also having a few paranormal experiences of his own.
“I started hearing the stories probably within the first week that I was here. Because when you’re hired in here, you obviously get a tour of all the buildings and the complex and the routines of how everything is done,” Alexander said. “You start to hear the various stories and you think … that’s pretty interesting. I wonder if any of them are true, or if they’re just urban legends.
“You start to hear things and see things out of the corner of your eye and think, ‘Did I see that? Or is that a figment of my imagination?'”
A pragmatist who figures that every occurrence has to have an explanation, Alexander admits that there have been moments at the statehouse that have left him throwing up his hands in disbelief.
One of those moments came about a decade when he was working the north entrance with another officer.
“Back in ’98 or ’99 … myself and another officer were sitting at that desk and we kind of had our back up against the wall, and and that time, that door was open 24/7, so there was always an officer there,” Alexander said. “And you hear it all the time. People come and go here at all times of day and night, so you’re used to hearing the door and the specific sound that it has.”
Alexander said he was relaxing at the desk when he heard the distant creak of the door and the sound of two people making their way up the stairs. Like so many times in the past, Alexander stood to greet the visitors.
“So we get up and look, and the door is closed and no one has come in,” he said. “We heard the door open. We heard people coming up the steps. But nobody there, so how do you explain that. There’s gotta be an explanation for it, but what is it? Was it a ghost?”
Alexander said there are also a number of established spirits that have generated many reports to the authorities.
One is the “Ghost Lady,” a figure with long hair said to be wearing a flowing 19th century dress.
“She just kinda walks around and people will see her out of the corner of their eye,” he said. “They look, and of course she’ll be gone.”
Another is the “Black Orb,” a presence known to follow people as they walk on the 3rd and 4th floors. Alexander said it’s rumored that the Black Orb calls the Statehouse attic its home.
Then, of course, there is the tale of the mailroom worker with the squeaky cart.
“The legend goes there were an employee who worked in the mailroom in the late 19th century … the Statehouse hadn’t been open too long. But he would push the cart around every floor delivering the mail to the different legislators,” Alexander said. “The story is he fell over the balcony of the 4th floor, or he jumped. But he did die, and according to the legend of the Statehouse, several people have said at night that if they are on the fourth floor walking, they can hear the wheels of the squeaky cart behind them.”
Sadly, the mailroom worker isn’t the only person said to have lost his life in the building, according to legend. Alexander said that years and years ago, the basement was home to the stables as well the space where the blacksmiths worked. At some point, the two forces came into conflict.
“The legend goes that the blacksmiths were working down here and one of the horses got out of control and reared up … they hit somebody in the head and killed them,” he said. “Now there are a lot of people who say late at night when they’re in this area, they can hear the sounds of horses whinnying and rearing up.
“It’s just one of those interesting stories with some interesting history at the statehouse.”