The Supernatural Research Society of Iowa (SRSOI) formed in 2008, and has twice investigated the supposedly haunted Joie de Vie Tea Salon in Sherman Hill, claiming to have discovered evidence supporting the haunting.
The space: From the street, the 1873 three-story Victorian home looks massive, but friendly. The interior has been carefully decorated in a Victorian-age theme with vintage decorations and clothing.
The story: In 1977, the old Coronado Apartments in Sherman Hill burned to the ground, killing five people. (A Des Moines man, Ron Veverka, served nearly 30 years in prison for the arson deaths.) In 1992, the large three-story 1873 Victorian home, now owned by Randa and Carlton Le Jeune, was moved to 755 20th St., the location of the Coronado Apartments. Weeks after their move-in, the Le Jeunes came to the conclusion that they weren’t alone.
“We hear heavy footsteps in the hallway, but they don’t stop at the end of the house,” Randa said. “They keep going, so it sounds like they’re running down a long apartment hallway.” Randa thinks the footsteps sound heavy because a girl who wore leg braces died in the fire.
Also, on a regular basis, Randa’s scissors go missing. “There used to be a sewing room off the bedroom, and Mrs. Jordan, the original owner of the house, loved to sew,” she said. “Often my scissors disappear, and I find them upstairs in that room.”
Vicki Stinson, co-founder of SRSOI, said the house’s history led them to investigate. “We certainly haven’t been disappointed with our investigations,” she said.
Stinson and her team believe the home has two sets of spirits, ones from the age and history of the house, one from the apartment fire.
The investigation: SRSOI co-founder Kevin Wright was standing at the top of the front staircase in December, and claims to have seen a woman in white walk around the corner and disappear. In Mrs. Jordan’s bedroom, there is a loveseat with four Egyptian finials anchored down with a sticky substance. When Wright’s back was turned, one of the finials was thrown and landed about four feet from the post. Randa said the finial has also been tossed down the hallway.
Just after midnight, Stinson said she was heading downstairs to join everyone else when she heard talking upstairs. Since the whole team was on the first floor, she walked up the stairs to find the alarm clock, which was set for 7:30 a.m., playing old fashioned swing music.
“Occasionally I’ll hear old music playing in the hallway, but this time my alarm was reset to 12:08 a.m. It was very strange.” Randa said.