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Monday, October 2, 2023

Life + Arts

Paranormal team tackles the Strand

Cousins Barbara Davis and Tom LeCroy own Bistro LeCroy on The Strand in Galveston. Without being asked, LeCroy offers that, though he has never seen a ghost at the restaurant, he knows that it was the morgue for the victims of the Great Storm of 1900.

Over a year after Hurricane Ike, Galvestonians still relate events back to the storm. LeCroy and his family stayed in the lofts next to the restaurant for a few weeks post-Ike.

Bistro LeCroy is in the J.D. Rogers building, one of a three-building monopoly owned by Dale and Diane Olson. In addition to the street side restaurant, there is a boutique, the former trolley station, a ballroom and a handful of fully furnished, but rarely inhabited lofts once known as the Inn at the Strand.

The Olson’s son, Darryl, is the most frequent occupant of the apartments, splitting his time between Galveston and Los Angeles, where he worked at a high-end retail store. He quit after Ike to help his parents, who were overwhelmed with the destruction.

Shortly after Olson’s arrival in his loft, he heard a girl crying. He’d later come to call her Annabelle, after one of the many psychics who have conducted walkthroughs of the building told him that was her name.

The psychic told Olson that Annabelle was mad at him for not paying attention to her and never playing with her. The psychic also told Olson that because he doesn’t see her, she gets frustrated and cries and wants him to acknowledge her.

“Thank God there’s no one around here. Now I’ll come home from the store and say, ‘Hey Annabelle, how are you doing?’” Olson said.

A few months ago, Jennifer Hanson and Jennifer Parker, founders of the Southern Paranormal Investigations team, came by Bistro LeCroy looking for the owners. They had a hunch that the building from 1845 might be swarming with activity. Tom LeCroy told the Olsons, who invited Hanson and Parker to look around the building.

“These people really seem to have their act together,” Darryl Olson said. “The correspondence we got from them wasn’t like, ‘Yeah, we’re doing this ghosty thing.’ It was very specific, very well-written and well thought out.’

On Jan. 23, the Southern Paranormal Investigations team, in conjunction with Saturday Night Paranormal (ghostshow.us), a Web site that streams investigations from all of the country every week, took up the quest of going through the building. Bistro LeCroy jumped on board as well, staying open past the usual 9 p.m. closing time to host dozens of diners and drinkers, who could watch the walkthrough on a large screen television in the restaurant for $10.

At least five laptops and a television that showed four cameras at various locations in the building make up the command central that is set up in between the lofts owned by Dale and Diane Olson.

In one loft apartment, Darryl Olson shows off the ‘70s renovated bathroom that was once the crime scene of a couple’s murder suicide. Across the corridor is another apartment where a man used to kill children that he could find on the Strand in the early 1900s. Olson believes Annabelle was one of the girls.

Hanson and Parker are no strangers to the other side, each having encounters and experiences with what they call “entities.” A friend visited Parker the morning after a deadly car accident. Parker remembers a field trip to Washington, where the students toured Congress, and she saw dozens of men wearing white wigs and clothing from the Revolutionary period. She assumed a re-enactment show was about to start, but when she brought a friend to see, everyone was gone.

Technological difficulties postponed the investigation over an hour and a half later than scheduled, showcasing the give-and-take nature of the paranormal business.

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