On a dark October evening at The Saint Paul Hotel, Linda Lee, better known as Dangerous Linda to the supernatural community, told the stories of the Twin Cities’ most prolific paranormal hotspots.
Dangerous Linda is a “ghost host” for the American Ghost Walks, which organizes ghost tours in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Stillwater. She crafts her tours through historical research and a keen ability to sniff out paranormal experiences.
The job is filled with little synchronicities, which at first seem like coincidences, Dangerous Linda said.
“But then you pick up that thread and follow it, and then another one happens. And then you pick up that thread and you follow it, and then another one happens,” she said. “And then before you know it, you’re starting to see a whole picture form right in front of your eyes.”
Dangerous Linda said hauntings happen when a spirit is earthbound. Some spirits that experience tumult before their death are prevented from crossing over to the other side. Below are some of Dangerous Linda’s favorite local haunted locations.
The Saint Paul Hotel
Built in 1910, the hotel has a stately presence. During the era of mobsters and prohibition, Leon Gleckman, the “Al Capone of St. Paul,” ran his bootlegging and prostitution operations out of the hotel.
Eventually, he was arrested by the FBI for tax evasion. After model behavior in prison, he was released early, only to be arrested again. This time, Dangerous Linda said, he refused to go back. He became inebriated, eventually crashing his vehicle into a bridge.
Today, his spirit lingers at the Saint Paul Hotel. Disembodied footsteps and cold spots are the most common paranormal experiences had by visitors of the hotel.
The Fitzgerald Theater
Just a few blocks away in St. Paul’s oldest theater dwells a mischievous spirit named Ben. Ben was a worker at the theater before he died of alcohol poisoning in a stairwell of the theater one cold winter night decades ago.
In 1985, as the theater was undergoing renovations, construction crews narrowly avoided a piece of plaster crashing from the ceiling, Dangerous Linda said.
When crews investigated, they only saw a man’s shadow on the catwalk. Crews later noticed there was no material missing from the ceiling and that plaster had not been present on the ceiling since the original theater was built.
“Construction seems to stir up a lot more than dust,” said Dangerous Linda. “It stirs up ghosts and ghostly activity.”
Visitors of the theater have reported disembodied footsteps and workers doing renovations allegedly saw tools move on their own accord.
Cedar Street and Fifth Street SE, St. Paul
In the same area of downtown St. Paul lives the ghost of Ann Bilansky. Convicted of poisoning her husband, Bilanksy was executed in the gallows at the corner of Cedar Street and Fifth Street SE in 1863.
“This was the crime of the century at the time,” Dangerous Linda said. “This would’ve been the O.J. Simpson trial of the late 1800s. It was so sensational.”
As the story goes, Bilansky’s last words before her execution were a threat — if she was wrongly executed for the crime, she would haunt those who sentenced her to death. The threat didn’t make a difference for Bilanksy’s fate. Her ghost presents itself in the form of a grim reaper, Dangerous Linda said.
The Foshay Tower
The Foshay Tower is another Minneapolis location that is said to be haunted by its builder, Wilbur Foshay.
“A lot of people compare him to the Great Gatsby character — he was young, rich [and] super famous of course,” Linda said.
In 1929, the tower was completed and Foshay threw a grand party in its honor. But only a few short weeks after, the stock market crashed and Foshay lost everything. He was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme and served time in jail before being pardoned by the president.
Urban legend says that after he was released from jail, he went to the top of the tower and took his own life. Dangerous Linda said her ghost tour explores Foshay’s story more in-depth.
Today, guests to the tower report strange electrical fluctuations and elevators stopping at random floors. One visitor to the hotel who went with her friends saw a man wearing a gangster outfit in the elevator. When she and her friends exited the elevator, she asked them if they noticed his strange attire. To her surprise, they said there wasn’t a man in the elevator at all.
What: Minneapolis Ghost Walk
Where: Mill Ruins Park, 102 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis
When: 7:30 – 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1
Ages: all ages
Info: americanghostwalks.com; [email protected]; (833)-446-7813