One of my guilty pleasures, I’ll admit, is watching “Ghost TV”. I’m always on the hunt for credible accounts of hauntings and other phenomena, and I occasionally find a story that really grabs my attention. The tale of The Lake Club is one of them.
The first time I ever heard about The Lake Club was in an episode of “A Haunting.” Several of the people involved in the story were interviewed during the show. It was their credible, coherent demeanor, along with the intriguing details of the story, that captured my interest. So I did a little research.
The Lake Club in Springfield, Illinois first opened as a nightclub in 1940, gaining a reputation for big-name entertainment—and an illegal gambling operation as well. The club was raided in 1958, and the gambling was shut down. Business declined, and the club closed in the 60’s. But, during the 1970’s, with Bill Carmean and Tom Blasko at the helm, The Lake Club experienced a revival as a popular nightspot. The paranormal events that occurred during that time would earn the club a reputation as one of the most haunted sites in the state.
The haunting began in 1974, with Bill Carmean being the first to notice strange happenings—such as a piano playing in another room when he was alone in the club; a door near the office opening, followed by footsteps, even though no one was there; and a glass flying off a table and hitting a wall during a visit by an unfortunate salesman. Over the next couple of years, the disturbances intensified, with employees and musicians reporting unusual occurrences—such as feelings of being “poked and prodded” by invisible hands, a drink lifting off a table and pouring into a customer’s lap, office equipment operating on its own, and more. Bill Carmean’s partner Tom also had some strange experiences, which he initially kept to himself. And then employee Barbara Lard had the most intense encounter of all.
She saw an apparition—just the head of a man with snow-white hair—and he spoke, warning her that one of the club owners was going to die. Accounts differ as to whether or not she shared this warning with Carmean and Blasko—and there’s disagreement over the name of the owner who did die of a heart attack a couple of weeks later. But one of the owners of the property apparently did die. And, with the help of The Lake Club’s longtime caretaker Rusty, the identity of the spirit who gave the warning was determined.
He was Rudy Cranor, a bartender during The Lake Club’s heyday as a nightclub and illegal gambling spot. Barbara Lard identified him, from an old photo, as the spirit who had spoken to her. It turns out that, in June 1968, after the club had fallen on hard times, Rudy Cranor had committed suicide there, shooting himself with a high-powered rifle in one of the back rooms. Rudy was now assumed to be the source of all of the disturbances at the club.
After all that, Tom Blasko felt that something had to be done about Rudy, for the safety of everyone working at the club. Ultimately, Gary Dilley, a priest who was an old friend of his, came to The Lake Club with two other priests to bless the site and send Rudy’s spirit on its way. Did the blessing work? Apparently so. The paranormal occurrences stopped. But the club’s business declined as well. Within 6 months, The Lake Club closed. From 1980 to 1988, it was operated under a different name by a new lessee, before finally closing for the last time. And then, in a strange ending to a strange story, the building burned to the ground in August 1992. Investigators believed the fire had been deliberately set.
What do I think about all this? The accounts of the people involved did seem very credible. And, from my own experience, I know that the kind of phenomena reported at The Lake Club really can happen. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that a site for illicit gambling was later the location of a suicide, a long string of paranormal disturbances, and a destructive fire. Energy, I believe, attracts like energy; dark activities lead to more of the same. So it’s not surprising how the Lake Club’s history turned out. The one good thing is that the spirit causing the disturbances does seem to have been released. A very good thing.
Thanks to www.prairieghosts.com/lakeclub.html for their information on The Lake Club.