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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Thistle Hill, Log Cabin Village provide paranormal experiences

Thistle Hill, a well-known landmark near the hospital district in Fort Worth, stands majestic to onlookers.  Photo by Katie Hudson-Martinez/The Collegian
Thistle Hill, a well-known landmark near the hospital district in Fort Worth, stands majestic to onlookers. Photo by Katie Hudson-Martinez/The Collegian

By Katie Hudson-Martinez/feature editor

(Final in a three-part series on haunted places in Tarrant County.)

THISTLE HILL

Thistle Hill, a well-known landmark near the hospital district in Fort Worth, stands majestic to onlookers.  Photo by Katie Hudson-Martinez/The Collegian
Thistle Hill, a well-known landmark near the hospital district in Fort Worth, stands majestic to onlookers. Photo by Katie Hudson-Martinez/The Collegian

The colonial mansion named Thistle Hill is situated near the Fort Worth hospital district on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The 11,000-square-foot home is three stories and has an elegant foyer, with several sitting areas.
The home is furnished with elegant antique furniture and vintage framed photographs of the home’s previous inhabitants.

NEWLYWEDS’ MANSION
The mansion was built in the early 1900s by Albert Wharton, who commissioned the house for his new bride, Electra Waggoner-Wharton.

Electra was only 20 years old at the time, and the newlyweds were known for their lavish lifestyle and frequently extravagant parties in the third-story ballroom.

Electra Wharton and her husband sold the home in 1911 to the Winfield Scott family, who began a major renovation of the property.

The mansion was transformed from a colonial style to a Georgian revival as it remains today.

DEATH OF NEW OWNER
Shortly before the family was to move into the home, Winfield Scott died unexpectedly and never lived in the home he so tenderly prepared.

Some have speculated that his ghost lives there now, as well as the ghost of Electra Wharton, who died at 43.
Witnesses have reported apparitions resembling both of these former owners, as well as unexplained noises, including knocking, phantom footsteps and music playing from the third-story ballroom.

HISTORIC LANDMARK
The mansion was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1977 and was gifted to the Historic Fort Worth Society in 2005.

It now serves as a museum, and the mansion is commissioned for parties and special events.

The opulent furnishings and beautiful grounds make an ideal setting for weddings.

Hundreds of couples have been married on the landing of the massive dual staircases.

Mark Rhodes, the site manager at Thistle Hill, denies that any paranormal activity exists within the mansion.

“ We are often contacted by ghost-hunting societies wanting to do stuff here at the mansion, but we are not interested in portraying the house as being haunted,” he said.

He also points out that no one has ever died inside the house and suggests that the rumors of ghosts in the house were born in the 1970s when a Boy Scout troop sponsored a Halloween “haunted house” in the basement as a fundraiser.

“ I’ve been here for nine years, and I’ve never seen or heard anything,” he said.

PUBLIC VIEWINGS

Tours of the home are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The fee is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children and includes a tour of the nearby McFarland House, also owned by the society.

Special event pricing varies by day and length of time, from $800 to $1,700, plus a $500 security deposit.

During the Christmas season, the Mansion is lavishly decorated, and the rental fees are raised an additional $300.

The third floor is always closed to the public.


LOG CABIN VILLAGE

Log Cabin Village’s Foster Cabin shows evidence of ghostly orbs.  Photo by Katie Hudson-Martinez/The Collegian
Log Cabin Village’s Foster Cabin shows evidence of ghostly orbs. Photo by Katie Hudson-Martinez/The Collegian

The Log Cabin Village is a historical museum across from the Fort Worth Zoo on University Drive.

The village is a collection of log cabin homes as well as a blacksmith shop and a schoolhouse.

All were actual homesteads around Texas in the 1800s.

The cabins are furnished with mostly authentic period pieces. Photographs and personal belongings of many of the families who lived in the cabins are on display.

FOSTER CABIN

Several of the cabins are rumored to be haunted, but the most famous haunted cabin in the village is the Foster Cabin.

The Fosters were wealthy cotton farmers and slave owners in the area.

The enormous two-story cabin was built by slaves, who hand hewed and stacked the logs from large oaks and cedars that grew from the Brazos River bottom.

Since the cabin was first moved to the village in 1974, people have sworn it is haunted by the ghost of a woman believed to be Martha Foster, who died in the house in 1870.

Newspaper articles written about the haunting have named her “The Lady of Log Cabin Village.”

GHOST SIGHTINGS
Sudden cold spots, strange noises and actual sightings of the apparition have been reported on countless occasions and are usually accompanied by the overpowering scent of lilacs, believed to be her perfume.

The second floor of the cabin is the most paranormally active, and after a few visitors came running down the narrow stairs frightened out of their wits, the managers decided to close the floor to the public.
A historical interpreter inside the village for three months recalled an unexplained incident that occurred within the Foster Cabin recently.

“ It was very strange. The fire alarm started going off, and it smelled like smoke,” she said. “We called the fire department, but there was no fire.”

The Foster Cabin has attracted paranormal enthusiasts from across the nation, but the staff avoids promoting the village as haunted.

Kelli Pickard, director of the village for almost a decade, admits to having some unnerving experiences inside the cabin but doesn’t like to talk about them.

“ We want the focus to stay on the amazing history the village has to share, not on ghosts,” she said.

Pickard has a bachelor’s in history and anthropology and is passionate about early-American history. She gets many requests for information about the ghosts and has prepared a handout for just such occasions.

The village is open Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and weekends 1-5 p.m. Admission is $3.50.

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