January 2011


Gibson Square Museum of Art, Great Falls, Montana

This magnificent building was completed in 1896 as Central High School, the first high school in Great Falls, Montana. Central served the community well until 1939, when it became a junior high school. In 1975 the aging building was closed. It was refurbished and reopened as Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art in 1977, named for the man who founded the city of Great Falls. Like most old schools, the building is reputed to be haunted. In this case, the legend involves a student who supposedly drowned in the old swimming pool in the basement.

Carol Bradley, reporter for the Great Falls Tribune, tracked down the real story in an impressive piece of investigative journalism. Grant Mill, a student, did indeed drown in 1916, but in the Missouri River, not at the school. Nonetheless, staff and employees continue to experience occasional paranormal activity ranging from the sounds of invisible children in the hallways to the jangle of keys when no one is present and the apparition of a young blond girl who wanders around an office in the basement.

A former employee sometimes sensed a male presence who stood beside her desk, watching her. Once, as she struggled to set the security system at the end of the day, she heard a gruff male voice that said, "Get out!" At that point in the interview, my audiotape recorded a male voice that said, "She could hear me!" Perhaps he was a former teacher or principle who enjoyed using his authority to intimidating people.

For the rest of this intriguing story, read "Mystery at the Museum," in Haunted Montana: A Ghost Hunter's Guide to Haunted Places You Can Visit--If You Dare!, available from riverbendpublishing.com, amazon.com, and most book stores.