By Glen Vaughn-Petersen
Known for its unique Greek Revival-style architecture, long and storied history, and supposed hauntings, the John Wornall House Museum at 6115 Wornall Road, is preparing to put on a special event about haunted houses just in time for Halloween, entitled “The Anatomy of a Haunted House.”
The John Wornall House, now a museum on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1858 for John Wornall and his family.
Wornall was a man who played a key role in the early days of Kansas City, serving on the board of trustees for William Jewell College, organizing the Bank of Kansas City, and even serving on the Committee on Banks and Corporations.
The house itself has also seen its fair share of history, having been used as a makeshift field hospital during the Battle of Westport in the Civil War. Additionally, there is a possibility of the Wornall House having been constructed by enslaved individuals “hired out” to John’s father, Richard, who himself was an owner of slaves.
Not only is this house most known for its architecture and its storied history, there’s also something that makes this house particularly unique. Supposedly, the John Wornall House is haunted. Given its long and, in the case of some parts of it, dark history, this is not surprising.
There are many claims regarding the John Wornall House’s haunting, including seeing full-bodied manifestations of wounded soldiers, the sudden appearance of a strong scent of tobacco in a room, and even supposedly the spirit of Eliza Wornall, John’s wife, who died at age 29 after giving birth to her seventh child. According to one source, some neighbors to the house have worked to protect their homes from the wandering spirits, like whiting out their windows or hanging crosses on windows facing the John Wornall House. No matter the source, it seems that, if you are a believer in such things, there may indeed be spirits that walk—or float — the halls of the John Wornall House at night.
The Anatomy of a Haunted House event on October 22nd will be a spooky affair that is “part architectural tour, part exploration of the many ways to die during the Victorian era,” including murder, “medicine,” and more. It asks the question: “Why do haunted houses always seem to be Victorian?” and shows how dangerous the lives of those who lived in that time may have been. This upcoming event is for those who are interested in the spooky history of the John Wornall House, but not necessarily in the ghostly aspects of it. For more information, visit www.wornallmajors.org/events.