Aside from hurling a few stones, you might not think ghosts have much power when it comes to effectively changing the world of the living around them. Yet in Omaha, Nebraska, the not-quite dead have managed to help keep a 132-year-old downtown structure from being razed.
The Christian Specht Building managed to survive in cast-iron glory on Douglas Street since being constructed in 1884, yet a proposed expansion project by Omaha Performing Arts slated the building for demolition and replacing it with a parking garage. Though a grass-roots effort with designs by Hanscom Park Studio promoting “ReSpecht” for the National Register-listed building garnered local support for saving the building, it was the search for spooks–including the building’s namesake Christian Specht–that pushed the gorgeous façade into the limelight and helped halt its deconstruction.
In February, the Specht Building was visited by members of Rural Investigators of the Paranormal (RIP) and staff from the Omaha World-Herald to capture any evidence of otherworldly phenomena. Christian Specht operated a factory which made ornamental moldings for homes and buildings and was at one time a councilman with a volatile temper. Shortly after he left Omaha in 1891, according to historian Ryan Roenfeld, the Lady Liberty statue at City Hall (which was crafted at Specht’s own factory) fell from the roof, narrowly missing a passerby. Whether that was poor engineering or Specht’s symbolic iron fist coming down hard on Omaha is a matter of perspective, but the jury is still out on whether echoes from Nebraska’s past still linger inside these brick walls.
Say what you might about the existence of ghosts. If hauntings can help preserve rare pieces of history and keep the past alive, then they may still play an important role in fanning the flames of our forgotten history.