The Ghost of Clyde Mudgett

An ill-planned burglary. A macabre death. A gym legend.

Since Glancey purchased the building in 1991 a dozen or so visitors have come by to see whether Mudgett's ghost inhabits the place, including Mudgett's widow and adult daughter. Some of those visitors, like Ina Harms, say they found the experience merely eerie. Others have emerged convinced they encountered the supernatural. Bill Alkofer, a former photographer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, spent an evening in the gym with columnist Don Boxmeyer in 1996. "About all we saw was some heavy bags that looked like they were moving all by themselves," Alkofer recalls. "At first I thought Boxmeyer was playing a prank on me, so I made the bag still for a while and then the thing started swinging again, and I'm thinking, 'Maybe there is something to this--it's a little spooky.'"

Boxmeyer wrote a tongue-in-cheek account of the night of ghost hunting, and Alkofer thought little else of the matter until he returned to the gym a few months later on an unrelated assignment. "While I was shooting the pictures, I was standing on a table. And all of the sudden out of nowhere all four legs collapsed and I came crashing down. I saved my camera equipment, but I got a big gash on my leg," Alkofer says. After the shoot was finished, Alkofer inspected the table and found that the screws affixing the legs to the table had been loosened or removed. "I think maybe old Clyde was playing a trick on one of the newspaper guys who had the audacity to poke fun at him," Alkofer ventures. "And I carry the scar on my shin with me to this very day, to remind me of something my mother always told me, 'Never speak ill of the dead.'"

Others who have spent time in the gym have alternated between skepticism and belief, according to Glancey. "Some of the younger kids accuse me of setting them up," he admits. "A couple years back, we had a big kid--300 pounds, I think--and he was working out on his own. All of the sudden he came rushing into the room and he says, 'Did just you tap me on the shoulder?' And I said no. That was the last time he worked out by himself."

To John Savage, a self-avowed psychic and founder of the Isanti-based Minnesota Paranormal Investigative Group, the tale has all the trappings of a classic haunting. "I'm not at all surprised by any of this," Savage says. "Mudgett was a boxer, so this place would be familiar to him. And the tapping on the shoulder is very common in a lot of the hauntings we deal with. It sounds like Clyde needs to cross over and let go of his earthly ties and move on."

Glancey concedes he isn't entirely positive that Mudgett's ghost is at work in the gym. The strange noises at night, he points out, could come from any number of sources: "Maybe it's rats or bats or squirrels or whatever the heck else is around here. This is an old building. Maybe it's settling.

"But if it is Clyde," he concludes. "I sure hope he's enjoying himself."

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