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Buskirk/Porticos, Bloomington

First-hand experiences from a former employee:

I worked at Porticos for Dr. Lewellan who at that time owned the restaurant. I had heard of all the stories and even tried to get them to let me go into the tunnel in the basement, which runs across downtown to what is now a bank, I believe. But the door to the tunnel has been locked tight, as they say a lot of the tunnel has caved in. The house was very interesting, with all the hidden entries etc.

Our boss at the time, Steve, had his office in what we call the attic. This attic was huge and I was told that at one time it was a room full of beds for sick boys or slaves awaiting transfer. The door to this attic had a lock on the outside (a very old deadbolt) instead of on the inside, and you have to use a key once inside to get outside.

There is a basement, which is like a dungeon and also has the door to the tunnel. The first floor contsisted of the kitchen in the back, dining areas, and foyer, with a solid wood door that has a huge bar running across it to lock. From the foyer you could go to the third floor, which was known to have been the master bedroom, and had an old safe behind a picture. There was a smaller room on the third floor, that gave everyone the creeps, and the public restrooms were locted on this floor, as well as a long corridor which ended at a staircase that led back down to the kitchen. The fourth floor was the attic. Our public restrooms were located right next tot he attic door.

On IU graduation weekend, staff was short so I decided to go in and help with general cleaning. I was in the women’s restroom, with headphones on, when I felt something strange. Granted, at that time I was the biggest chicken, and scared of the dark etc. I thought one of the guys had come in and was messing with me, so I continued working. Again, I felt this presence, took my headphones off and swung open the door in hopes of hitting whoever was messing with me. No one was there. I stood there for a moment, smoked a cigarette, and waited to see if they would come back to try and scare me again. It was so quiet. I thought maybe our boss was messing with me, so I grabbed the door knob to the attic where his office was and it was locked! As I turned around, I hadn't even taken a step yet, (I was going to go down the corridor into the kitchen) I heard thump thump thump. I froze for a minute, listened, and I didn't hear anything, so I turned back around and then heard it again, but this time I heard kids laughing very faintly. Again, I thought my boss was up in his office and had his kid or whoever up there with him. So I waited a minute, and heard the ball again, but it was still faint like it was being bounced at the top of the stairs that lead to the attic. So I put my ear to the door, and heard the ball again, but this time it sounded closer. It seemed to be coming down the stairs, getting louder the whole time, and then I heard the laughing again. I realized in my moment of franticness that Steve was not up there with any kids and I was actually hearing the children that everyone had been talking about. Needless to say, I about my peed my pants, and took off running down the corridor, down the backstairs, and into the kitchen. The two guys that were in the kitchen Rick and Eric, who were college students, thought I had tripped. I told them what I had heard so they went up to investigate and said that our boss hadn't made it there yet.

Later that night, one of the waitresses came down the front stairs into the foyer panicked and white as a ghost, literally crying that she would not go back up the stairs, so someone would have to trade her sections. She said as she was walking into the hallway from our upper dining area (the master bedroom), she saw the two children standing in the hallway.

Shortly after that, Fox 59 news came down and did a story on the house. Before that, someone from the radio station B97 here in Bloomington stayed the night there and I was told he didn't stay the whole night, he got scared and left.

Of course working there, you hear all kinds of stories, rumors etc., but the most fascinating one was when a medium came in for lunch one Sunday and the waitress tried to escort her up the stairs to the upper dining area she said, "I can't go up the stairs," when asked why she said, "because there are two children sitting on the stairs forbidding me to pass."

Another story I heard is about the tunnel. It was supposedly used to hide/transport slaves. (This tunnel goes from Porticos across town to what use to be a train depot, and then continues on to what is now a bank, I don't know what was there before.) The tunnel was said to be full of slaves waiting to move when the house burned down, and many of the slaves died from smoke inhalation.

We use to get older folks that would come in to the restaurant and tell the stories they knew. It was quite interesting.

Dr. Lewellan and his wife, Anita ended up selling the place and I believe they moved out of state.

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