By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Since the 1930s, when Edward Ivinson and his wife first provided the ladies of Laramie a home-like atmosphere with hotel-like amenities, the independent living facility’s Victorian-style house has been home for hundreds of lively personalities.
But perhaps none so lively as “Sophie,” whose shenanigans are cause for puzzlement – but not alarm – for the staff and residents of the historic house on East Grand Avenue.
“The Ivinson home for aged ladies is currently home to 19 residents,” said Justine Castelli, executive assistant at the Ivinson Home for Ladies. “But the staff here are more than certain there’s one more resident who’s been lingering in the halls of this historic home, and her name is Sophie.”
Castelli said doors on the second floor of the home open and shut on their own, and items in the butler pantry in the kitchen are found in unexpected places.
“There have been multiple occasions when the dishwasher in the kitchen has been run when no one has been around,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “The laundry lights go off and on, as well as the washer and dryers being opened when the laundry isn’t quite finished.”
Ivinson Home for Aged Ladies
Dana Gaster has worked at the Ivinson Home for more than 20 years, most recently as its executive director. The house is not a nursing home, Gaster stresses, but rather a light assisted living residence.
“We actually have a couple of gals that still work outside the home,” said Gaster. “We provide three meals a day, once-a-week housekeeping and once-a-week laundry services. It’s that little niche that the elderly can use.”
And while the residents are free to come and go, there is one presence that stays close to home.
“Whenever we can’t explain something, we just say, ‘Well, Sophie’s been here,’” said Gaster. “We just call our mysteries ‘Sophie.’”
Gaster said unexplained goings-on have been happening as long as she’s been there. And there have been many odd occurrences that defy explanation.
“We’d come in and the ovens are turned up to 500 degrees, a temperature that we don’t even use,” she said. “So, it’s kind of mysterious how it got that way.”
Another time, Gaster recalled sitting in a room off the butler pantry, where a coffee machine was in use.
“I heard some noise out in the butler pantry,” she said. “And I went to see what that noise was, because I didn’t see anybody moving around that area. The coffee filter basket was pulled out and sitting on the counter. But if you see this layout, our coffee machine sits really close to the edge of the counter.
“How could it have come out of there and not spilled on to the floor? Why would it be taken out and not emptied?”
Castelli recounted a particularly peculiar instance in which a broom left by an employee was found standing up by itself in the middle of the kitchen.
“It’s almost as if it was waiting patiently to finish the sweeping,” she said.
A Female Specter
Sophie is not a harmful apparition, but she may have a thing against men, Gaster said.
“When we’ve had men here, that seems to be when it happens more,” she said. “So maybe Sophie doesn’t like men.”
And Castelli said the staff is quite sure the unexplained occurrences are the work of a female ghost.
“Have you ever seen a man care so much about dishes, sweeping or laundry?” she asked.