'Ghost Hunters' TV show episode investigates spirits at Athenaeum

(WTHR/Rich Nye)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - People have told stories of paranormal activity at the Athenaeum for years. The A&E TV show "Ghost Hunters" came to Indianapolis to investigate at the request of Athenaeum Foundation President Craig Mince, who runs the 126-year-old building.

"Are there spirits in the building? Yes, I think it's pretty obvious," said Mince, who started working at the Athenaeum about a year ago and soon began feeling he was not alone, even when he was alone in the building.

"Ghost Hunters" spent five days and nights at the Athenaeum trying to contact spirits using EMF detectors, data loggers and 4K infrared cameras.

"It's no joke," said Mince. "The stuff they get is legit. This is very much like a legit science if you will. It's very convincing."

Several visitors to the Basile Theatre claim to have encountered spirits. (WTHR/Rich Nye)

The "Ghost Hunters" believe they contacted Dr. Knabe, a woman who taught health at Das Deutsche Haus (now the Athenaeum) before she was found gruesomely murdered in her apartment just a few blocks away on October 24, 1911.

Many people have claimed to have encounters with a dancing couple in the Basile Theatre at the Athenaeum. The crew brought in a string quartet to play Beethoven in hopes of drawing out the ghosts.

When the music played, no ghosts danced. But the crew did record what they consider paranormal activity. Some of them believed they saw a ghost up on the balcony.

"There are spirits in the building," said Mince. "They are not negative. They're very positive. What's here in the facility is here because it wants to be here."

Mince believes the Athenaeum is not haunted, but definitely inhabited by spirits from its long history.

"It's still creepy coming in here late at night or early in the morning when it's still dark out," said Mince. "I don't know if that will ever go away. But at the same time, I feel better equipped to handle the situation when and if it does ever arise."

The episode about the Athenaeum called "Dancing with the Dead" aired October 9. But the Athenaeum is hosting a watch party Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The foundation is also offering a special screening of "The Exorcist" on Friday, October 25, for its "Spirits at the Athenaeum" movie series.