Tulsa's own ghostbuster
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 16, 2010
12/16/10 at 5:53 AM
Ghost stories have long been a part of Christmas celebrations - even getting a mention in "It's the Most Wonderful Time in the World."
Tulsan Teri French has been investigating Tulsa's homegrown ghost stories for almost a decade through her work as leader of the Paranormal Investigation Team of Tulsa and Tulsa Spirit Tours.
She's gathered a number of those stories into a new book, "Tulsa's Haunted Memories" (Arcadia, $24.99).
French will be discussing Tulsa's spookiest locales and signing copies of her book at an event 11 a.m. Saturday at the Tulsa Historical Society, 2445 S. Peoria Ave.
French started working on the book about eight years ago, after she became interested in learning more about those things people claim have gone bump in the night.
"It came out of the research that I did for our investigations," French said.
"A friend of mine and I started working on it, but we put it away for a while. Then a couple of years ago, I got a call from Arcadia Publishing, which was starting a series of books about haunted places, and they wanted to include Tulsa in the series."
Arcadia has published about a dozen books that deal with Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma history, including "Baseball in Tulsa" and "Tulsa: Where the Streets Were Paved with Gold."
French's interest in the paranormal began when she happened to snap a Polaroid image at the place she was working and captured something she couldn't explain. As she searched, she learned about a group in Oklahoma City that did ghost hunting.
"But there wasn't a group in Tulsa doing this, so I decided to start my own," she said.
"However, paranormal investigation is a very expensive hobby, so I came up with the idea of doing a 'Spirit Tour' as a way to raise money to buy the equipment we needed."
French thought she would do a single tour, but interest was so great that it has become a side business. Tulsa Spirit Tours typically take place in the fall around Halloween.
"We'll do tours every weekend in October," she said. "Sometimes, we've started the tours as early as August and go into November."
All of the places French takes tour patrons to are included in "Tulsa's Haunted Places."
"Of course, I go into a lot more detail and cover a lot more locations in the book," French said.
The book includes chapters on Tulsa mansions, theaters and music venues, local cemeteries, coffee shops and bars, schools, even "Tulsa's Ghostly Suburbs."
"I really wrote this book to educate people about the city," French said.
"So many cities have ghost tours, and it's a subject that has become extremely popular. I want my book to draw some attention to Tulsa and show people how cool this city and its history is."
Tulsa’s most-haunted list includes Gilcrease House, Woodward Park
Much of the work Teri French and the Paranormal Investigation Team of Tulsa do is to find logical explanations for the unusual things people claim to have seen and heard.
"Most of the time, there is a logical explanation for what might seem to be a paranormal phenomenon," French said. "It's very, very rare when we can't find a down-to-earth reason for what's been happening. And those are the times that give us all a thrill."
Some of the places where French and her team found such a thrill are:
The Gilcrease House:"By far, this is the most haunted place, to go by the number of things experienced by a number of very credible people. It's one of the few places the team decided to leave early because of what we experienced there."
Woodward Park:"We've heard a whole lot of odd stories about unexplained things people have experienced here."
The building at the corner of Main and Brady streets, formerly Lola's : "It's sad that place is closed now, because there were some fascinating things there."
Other locales with a deservedly spooky reputation are the Brady Theater, the Tulsa Garden Center and Tulsa Little Theater.
James D. Watts Jr 581-8478
Teri French addresses a group outside of the Gilcrease House, one of Tulsa's haunted spots, located near Gilcrease Museum. Tulsa World file