Ghost Hunters: “TAPS Meets The Real Housewives of Atlanta”

Rhodes Hall in 1904 Photo Courtesy of The Georgia Trust

Rhodes Hall in 1904 Photo Courtesy of The Georgia Trust

TAPS teamed up with three of the current crop of divas from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” to investigate Rhodes Hall. Custom built for furniture magnate Amos Giles Rhodes, the elaborate structure was completed in 1904 and remained the Rhodes family home until Amos died in 1928.

Past reported paranormal activity included apparitions, footsteps, disembodied voices and a mysterious attic door reputed to not only open and close, but lock and unlock itself.

Following their parents’ deaths in Rhodes Hall in 1927 and 1928, Amos and Amanda’s son and daughter donated the house and about an acre of the original 114 acre estate to the State of Georgia with the stipulation it be used for “historical purposes”.

The state honored their wishes by housing Georgia’s archives in the building for many years. In the early 1990’s the house was completely renovated to its original glory and turned over to The Georgia Trust as their headquarters. Today the first floor, ample porch and front lawn can be rented for special events.

Tracy Clark, Communications Director for The Georgia Trust, walked Jason and Grant through the 9,000 sq. foot Romanesque Revival style castle. The ghost of a little girl had repeatedly been seen on and around the sweeping staircase on the first floor.

Eyewitness JoAnne Harris described her as wearing her blond hair in ringlet curls.

The apparition of a woman and a little girl together had been reported on the second floor foyer. They were mother and daughter, likely Amos Rhodes daughter-in-law Frances. The little girl was wearing a white dress in this location.

The second floor office routinely startled staff members when disembodied voices enjoyed a conversation inside the uninhabited space.

To me the voices sounded like two men discussing business. Not surprising as Amos Rhodes fortune was built selling furniture to the middle class on his innovative installment payment plans.

Former employee Paul Simo related his experience of feeling something flick him on the shoulder when he was on the back staircase. He said he often heard someone upstairs, but when he investigated he never found anyone.

Past staffer Linda Watson came into work one morning to find a bouquet of dead flowers on her third floor office desk. None of the employees would admit to putting the expired flowers on her desk so the joke became that Amos Rhodes must have given Linda flowers. I think one of the male staffers put them there as a rather mean-spirited prank.

The space that contained Linda’s desk was originally the Billiards room. As soon as she started talking I smelled heavy cigar smoke. Not surprisingly the Billiards room was the man cave of its era. Only men were welcome. It reminded me of a room at the Boone Hall plantation in South Carolina. It was built with a narrow brick doorway so that none of the women’s hoopskirts would fit through the door, effectively keeping them out of the male deliberations and debauchery.

At one point the basement of Rhodes Hall contained an apartment. I think former employee Shane Garner lived there as an on-site caretaker. He recounted a dark and stormy night complete with a thunderstorm during which the already cold basement abruptly became even colder. His TV changed channels and volume by itself. The lights in the apartment flickered on and off. It doesn’t take much bad weather to stress old wiring and cause lights to flicker. Cold spots can certainly indicate the presence of a ghost, but storms can also cause quick temperature changes. The TV might have started to go on the fritz as the electricity cut in and out.

The TV was the only part of his experience I felt had a ghostly assist. I would vote for the shade of Amos Rhodes who told me he considered Shane, “a bum”. Sorry Shane, I only translated. The ghost’s opinons were their own.

As for the housewives, Kim, Sheree and NeNe, were true to type. NeNe expressed terror before stepping one foot into Rhodes Hall. Jason teased her as he pointed out Atlanta was densely haunted in general. NeNe shot back, “I live on a golf course!”

Kim wore such a tight tube top her microphone could barely be stuffed into the back of it. Who wears flowing waves of hair on a ghost hunt? Kris and Amy pull part or all of their hair back for investigations. Otherwise it gets in the way.

Kim’s attitude was intact. She was dictating terms to the ghosts as she declared, “I always get what I want!” and warned any haunts not to touch her. I was surprised she didn’t get goosed by a ghost or two because as soon as she said that I felt at least four ghosts in the house considered her words a challenge to be met.

Although Jason was upbeat calling the trio “great” followed by the statement that, “They have a real interest in the paranormal,” this was one of the most awkward cross-casting hybrids I had ever seen. One of the ladies said point-blank they were not ghost hunters, they were housewives.

TAPS positioned cameras on the back stairs, the second floor foyer, the self-moving attic door, the first floor grand staircase and landing. Jason and Grant led the Housewives through the first floor. Jason and Grant were trying to engage the ghost of the little girl whom Jason mentioned had been seen in different dresses but the child was around the same age in each apparition.

Overall I saw the ghosts of three Rhodes grandchildren in the house. There were two little girls, and a boy. I believe the girls were first cousins and that one of the girls and the boy were siblings. I couldn’t find the names of Amos Rhodes grandchildren, but was able to confirm both his son and daughter married. I saw the little girls in white, periwinkle blue, violet and dark, possibly navy dresses in different spots around the house.

NeNe told the ghosts that the Housewives were there to see the fashions they wore back then. The women chatted among themselves making it hard to hear what else might have been going on. Then NeNe and the rest of the group heard an unidentified banging noise. Grant asked whoever was making the clunking noises on the floor above to come down the stairs or, “Make a noise so we know we aren’t talking to you in vain.”

I could tell that wasn’t going to happen. I saw the ghost of Amos Rhodes messing with the group below by moving around several old steamer trunks. Interestingly, Amos was dressed as a workman, not as the prominent businessman and philanthropist that he was known to be. He told me he occasionally enjoyed dressing down because it allowed him to go “incognito”. Like modern-day rich and famous sometimes he got tired of all the attention and wanted to be left alone to his own devices.

Another hard to hear noise prompted NeNe to ask, “What the hell was that?!” As the “that” in question was deemed to be coming from upstairs they all tramped upstairs to investigate.

The babbling group went into the second floor office and then into an adjoining room. Everyone heard what Grant described as a cough. Grant thought he heard ghostly footsteps but could find no explanation for them. He didn’t say if they sounded like spiked heels or not.

Kris and Amy were sent to the old basement apartment area to investigate. They speculated about what might have caused Shane’s TV to act wonky during the thunderstorm. Amy talked about wiring and the abundance of outlets but no real conclusions were drawn.

Kris heard something moving behind a bunch of wood stacked against a wall. There were a collection of boards and an old wooden door propped at an angle. I saw one of the little girl ghosts dressed in white hiding behind the wooden door. She was peeking out at Amy and Kris mostly with curiosity. The gals’ attention was drawn from the wood pile by a sudden unexplained noise in an opposite corner of the basement. They heard popping noises in an adjoining room. The source of all the noises in that part of the basement was the ghost of an old maintenance man who used to work on the big boiler furnace that once stood in the adjoining room. It was not Amos Rhodes, this man was much older.

Once in the adjoining basement room Kris and Amy sat in a couple of chairs and tried their luck with some EVP work. Kris started feeling soft touches on her face, arms and feet. At first she thought they were cobwebs from the ceiling. Amy began to have similar experiences. She looked around for any spiders or webs that might have caused the sensation but found nothing. During the reveal Jason said both women thought a child spirit might have been playing with them.

They were right. At first I saw one of the little ghost girls tickling both Kris and Amy with long white feathers I was told had been stolen from one of their mother’s formal hats.

Kris asked how many ghosts were in the small basement room with her and Amy. The answer was three and at that point I saw the second little girl and the little boy were all involved in teasing Amy and Kris. It was cute. One of the ghost children would run up, stroke Amy or Kris with a feather, and then run back to the group. They were daring each other to spook the gals. Then they ganged up and all three ghost children were tickling Kris and Amy with feathers at the same time. It was fun to watch. They didn’t mean any harm, the energy was playful.

Steve and Tango took a turn in the same basement room to see if they could duplicate Kris and Amy’s experiences. The ghost girls were still present. They invented a variation on the game. Both hid, peeping out at Steve and Tango. I think Steve’s colorful tattoos intrigued them. One ghost girl ran up to Steve and touched his hand, but he didn’t seem to feel it. As soon as she touched him, she ran back to her cousin, thrilled with her daring.

Jason and Grant went back to the second floor office sans the Housewives. They didn’t hear it, but their presence disturbed Amos. He grumpily told them, “Go away. Give me my privacy!”

Grant and Jason did hear music playing in the attic above them. Steve and Tango were up in the attic but in a different part, not directly above Jason and Grant. Jason radioed Steve to ask if he and Tango had heard any music. They had not.

I had the impression a string quartet played the music Jason and Grant heard. They didn’t describe what kind of music it was.

Since the music was coming from the attic, the rest of my impression didn’t make complete sense. I thought the string quartet played at the debutant “coming out into society” party Amos and Amanda hosted for their daughter long ago. That sort of formal party would never be held in an attic. I researched the floor plan of Rhodes Hall and the home did not have a ballroom as far as I can tell. However, on the first floor there was a spectacular reception space. If that string quartet played for Miss Rhodes debutant party it would have most likely taken place on the first floor in the reception room.

Another key feature of the Rhodes home was a tri-panel depiction of the rise and fall of the Confederacy done in stained glass. Between the large stained glass saga and the grand staircase, I wonder if acoustics could get a little wonky so that music originating in one room might sound like it came from another part of the structure. I have no idea if that was possible.

While hanging out on the second floor Jason and Grant heard a banging sound Jason described as someone throwing an extension cord on the floor. The sound drew them out into the hallway. Grant was looking down the stairs when he heard the sound of clothing rustling at the bottom of the stairs. I had a brief glimpse of a woman’s bustled dress, so Grant was right. This was followed by the sound of footsteps above them.

Tango and Steve investigated the first floor. Steve attributed the reported sightings of a ghost girl in a mirror to the scratches and smudges that marred the surface. He pointed out that when car headlights quickly and briefly lit up the mirror it would have been easy for people who wanted to see ghosts to interpret the scratches and cloudy distortions on the mirror as an apparition. It was a logical debunk, but I was not convinced the ghost girl(s) had not shown up in that mirror because I saw them all over the house during TAPS investigation.

Nothing much happened for Steve and Tango on the first floor. As they gave up and started upstairs Tango did feel something brush the back of his neck. Neither Tango nor Steve could find any spiders in the area. It was the ghost children again. The little boy had leaned out over the banister of the stairs and applied the stolen feathers to Tango’s neck. I don’t know if the ghost boy knew of Tango’s spider phobia, but he found the results entertaining.

Steve and Tango did a solid debunk of the attic door that was credited with powers of self-movement and was supposed to lock and unlock itself. Steve opened the attic door and let it go. It was obvious the heavy solid door had a wide swing in it that Steve noted was assisted by tension springs. After examining the lock, Steve slammed the attic door hard several times. Sure enough, the force of slamming the door hard was enough to trigger the locking mechanism. No ghosts there, it was simple vibration, tension springs and a heavy door creating the “haunted” effects. I checked, no ghosts were around them.

Kris and Amy took the Housewives to the attic to investigate. Apparently stomping sounds had been heard earlier. Kris asked the ghosts to duplicate the sounds. She asked, “Do you hide in the attic?” The second ghost girl replied but was not recorded saying, “I play in here,” with the typical six-year-old gravity of a child explaining the difference to an obviously clueless adult. I cracked up. It was perfect and sounded just like the daughter of a friend of mine. While I was thinking about that, I would love to know if any of the Rhodes granddaughters were named Elizabeth and called Beth by the family.

Kris seemed to realize she was dealing with a little ghost girl. As five women pushed into the room, Kris tried to reassure her that she was surrounded by women, that nobody would hurt her. The ghost girl was having none of that. She hid and stayed hidden because none of the ladies in the room looked like anyone she had ever known. She didn’t feel she had any reason to trust them.

Kris was aware of the problem. She said, “I know there are a lot of people in here, but we just want to talk.” This comment was followed by a thumping noise. It was hard to hear what happened next as the Housewives started talking all at once. Apparently the group heard noises and saw a shadow in the room. No additional video or EVP evidence was presented to back up those experiences.

The reveal was a disappointment for such an active location. Jason and Grant shared a couple weak EVP’s. One was of an indistinct voice in the second floor office while Grant and Jason were investigating by themselves. An EVP of a clunking noise was played. The only faint voice on EVP said, “No” very quickly following one of the guys requests to interact.

Personal experiences of overhead footsteps and phantom music were recounted. Although Jason and Grant didn’t deem Rhodes Hall haunted Grant said, “If anything is here, it is merely just curious.” I agree the ghost children were curious and playful.

Other celebrities who have joined TAPS for investigations at least made sense. Meatloaf was fun. Josh Gates of “Destination Truth” was a perfect tie in. Eddie McClintock of “Warehouse 13” was a skeptical star from a fictional paranormal TV show. “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” were eye candy at best and a major distraction from doing any real investigation of Rhodes Hall. The location deserved better treatment.

Blessings, Lynne

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About Lynne Sutherland Olson

Professional Psychic Medium
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