There is a mansion on Highway 14 about two miles west of Marion, Alabama known as Carlisle Hall. The house is rather unusual; a combination of Romanesque arches with a Japanese temple-type hanging copper roof and a Moorish balcony rail, all combined in a Gothic design.
Edwin Carlisle, a prosperous cotton merchant, had the plans drawn up in 1857 and the mansion was built between 1858 and 1859 on his 440 acre plantation. He and his family moved into the house in 1860. After he died in 1873, the house was sold several times to new owners, all of whom only stayed a short time. In the early 1900’s the last owners simply abandoned it and left the area.
Soon afterward, local residents began talking about a blue lantern light that could be seen through the windows of the bedroom originally occupied by Edwin Carlisle. There were also rumors of ghostly footsteps being heard coming down the stairs and what sounded like the swish of petticoats. People thought it must have been Carlisle’s daughter who, toward the end of the Civil War, had fallen in love with a Yankee colonel, one of the Northern occupation troops stationed in the area after the Confederate troops had been driven out. Any time he came calling, the young Miss Carlisle would rush down the stairs to greet him in the parlor. Evidently, she continued to do so long after the war and the lives of the lovers were over.
In the late 1930’s, the home was purchased by a retired naval officer named A. S. Hill. He began to repair the structure, but he never got to spend even one night there as before the work was completed, America entered World War II and Mr. Hill came out of retirement and went off to fight. Sadly, his ship was sunk by an enemy submarine and he didn’t return.
Mr. W. E. Belcher purchased the home next, but he spent all his time traveling and the house fell further into disrepair. Vandals broke in and stole furniture, paintings, books, and anything else of value. They shattered all 56 windows and several leaded Venetian glass masterpieces above the staircase. They ripped the banister apart and chopped into pieces the 6 marble fireplace mantels. They even dug up trees on the property and uprooted plantings in the formerly beautiful flower beds.
When Mr. Belcher returned from one of his trips overseas and saw the condition of the house, he hired a family to live in it. They were to protect the property and to make repairs as they could while the house was up for sale. Within two weeks though, the caretaker family’s only child, a toddler, was killed when he fell down the stairs splitting his little head open and leaving a bloody stain on the floor where he landed. After the child was buried, they left after telling a few people about seeing old Mr. Carlisle walking the upstairs hallway at night and seeing his daughter gliding down the same staircase that had killed their beloved son.
After that tragedy, the house was abandoned until the 1950’s when it was rescued by a teacher, Kay Klassen, who bought it just before it was condemned by the authorities and torn down. She and her parents spent 7 years in restoration and modernization work, including sanding and repairing the wooden floors. During this time, they searched all over the South for period furnishings, mantels, and chandeliers to replace those that had been destroyed. When they were finished, everyone agreed they had managed to bring the old place back to its glory days.
Ms. Klassen said she never saw Mr. Carlisle, his daughter or any unexplained lights. The only thing that couldn’t be explained was a section of the flooring that had a nasty stain. She would wash and sand it until the stain was gone, but within several days, it would return. She finally had to cut the section out and replace the wood. Today, if you look really close, you can see where the replacement is located – at the foot of the stairs right where a dying baby’s cries had been heard years and years ago.