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Ozarks Life: The hauntings of Historic Commercial Street

The owners of Cafe Cusco and Historic Firehouse No. 2 have some strange stories
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 10:23 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -Most of the buildings lining Commercial Street have been around longer than we’ve been alive. And today their energy is far from dead.

“It’s just always had that it has a special feel,” Mary Collette said.

Collette bought the Historic Firehouse No. 2 in 1995.

And almost right away when restoring the building from the early 1900s, and creating this event venue, she knew this firehouse had a resident that came with the lease.

“I think there’s a fireman,” Collette said.

He might be responsible for the sound of footsteps upstairs, slamming doors, shadows moving along the walls, and an antique, model of a bicycle jumping off a ledge.

Curious incidents include an employee getting frustrated over a handsy co-worker, or, at least that’s what she thought.

“Amanda was standing here,” Collette said at the high-top bar, “and said, ‘what happened?’ And Kara (on the other side of the bar) said, ‘Jay just brushed across me and it wasn’t really appropriate.’ And Amanda said, ‘Jay’s in the other room!”

Mary believes whatever is affecting the firehouse is just having fun.

“I think we have maybe passed the test that we care enough about the firehouse that we’re going to be accepted and we’re okay,” Collette said.

It’s a similar feeling for one of Mary’s neighbors, Joe Gidman.

“I’m not sure what I fully believe on everything, you know, but it’s fun,” Gidman, who owns Cafe Cusco, said.

Like at Historic Firehouse No. 2 Joe believes the spirits at Cafe Cusco are fun-loving.

“Customers mentioned to us about seeing little girls running around that weren’t actually here,” Gidman said. “And that happened actually on multiple occasions.”

And these playful girls might explain what happened to Joe on the first day he took ownership of the building.

“So the first day that we came in the building,” Gidman said, “we opened the door and down on the floor right in the front of the door was this piece of wood.”

“At first we thought it was part of the molding, Gidman continued. “So we kind of looked around to see maybe had broken off somewhere. We couldn’t figure that out. So we put it on a table. The very next day, we came back and it was back on the floor. And so my first thought was okay, the trains come through the middle of the night, it rolled off the floor.”

“I took that piece of wood and went to the back door and put it in a trash can,” Gidman said. “And then the third day we walked back in, and that same piece of wood was sitting in the exact same spot in the by the front door.”

Joe’s two-story building was built in 1883 by the Bartlett brothers. One had a pharmacy on the ground floor, the other was a doctor and surgeon on the second floor. It’s not known how many people died in this building, but one of the brothers might still be here.

Joe had the Southwest Ghost Finders, a paranormal investigation team, visit the restaurant. They recorded video of some strange lights swirling upstairs. The light came together to form what Gidman and the team believe is the image of Dr. Bartlett.

“It shows the image of what looks like kind of a heavyset, older man, looking down at this device that was on a table,” Gidman said. “And nobody was up here at the time. It doesn’t match anybody that was here that night, it was pitch black. And we had found out later through medical journals, that Dr. Bartlett was described as old and portly.”

Gidman has two other businesses on C-Street, Van Gogh’s Eeterie, and Chabom Tea + Spice. Gidman says those two buildings don’t have any activity.

So the next time you’re on C-Street, take an extra look at the table next to you, or across the dance floor because you never know who might be looking back.

“Think about the layers that you’re leaving,” Collette said. “Just when you go to... anywhere you’re leaving a little piece of yourself there and that that’s that all those little wrinkles in time.”

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