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Moss Mansion Historic House Museum –
Haunted Place: Moss Mansion Historic House Museum
914 Division Street
Billings, Montana 59101
Moss Mansion Historic House Museum web site
The Moss Mansion and property is located on the corner of Division Street, and Clark Street.
It is owned by the City of Billings and the Montana Historical Society. The Billings Preservation Society 501(c) (3) has a contractual agreement covered under MCA 22-3-603. "Management of historic sites and buildings."
The purpose of The Moss Mansion Museum is to preserve, collect, describe, interpret and exhibit artifacts and documents relating to the 83-year occupancy of the Preston B. Moss family.
Designed by a well known, New York architect, Henry Janeway, and built by engineers; R. J. Hardenbergh & E. H. Gagnon, for Preston and Martha Moss, this 1902 "massive" red stone, three story, English Renaissance mansion is now a very authentic historic house museum. Located on a two acre lot, Moss Mansion has twenty-eight rooms in its sixty feet square structure, and is forty-five feet tall.
The mansion also has an attached solarium, where many plants and vegetables are grown. There was ample room for this large family, plus three servants. There are parlors, dining rooms, rest rooms, closets, libraries, sitting rooms, garden rooms all through the mansion.
It is like stepping back in time to the turn of the century, visiting the Moss family in their 1902 mansion. Besides seeing all the wood paneling, walls with gold threading, hand painted walls and ceilings, marble fireplaces, columns, elegant decor everywhere you look, its rooms are filled with the original fixtures, furniture drapes, carpets and Moss family artifacts, including: Many pieces of Kula's furniture, Kula's quilts and needlepoint, Melville's harp, Martha's paintings and china patterns. The visitor can readily see why it had cost $105,000 dollars to build and furnish.
Upon entering the mansion, the visitor can't help but see the ornate arch, inspired by the architecture of Alombra Castle in Spain. The foyer is indeed big enough to be a full lobby, with various common rooms found off this lobby-like foyer. The formal French Parlor is lovely indeed, complete with woven rugs. The English Tutor dining room is full of beautiful, hand-crafted oak, mahogany and birch in its decor.
The rooms all have a theme, as Martha Moss was blessed with a creative, artistic eye, and had much to say about how her home was to be decorated.
The upkeep for this mansion must be a never-ending job. Several fund raisers are held during the year, such as The Historical House Tour, and Spring Festival. House tours are also available for $10.00, with discounts offered for Seniors, Veterans, and children. Tour times are Sunday, Tuesday-Friday from 1 PM-4 PM, with the last tour starting at 3 O'Clock. Please remember to call for a reservation if your group consists of more than 10 people. Visitors are taken on an hour tour of the basement, and the first and second floors. The third floor, that originally was the ballroom is closed to visitors as it is being used as offices and storage areas.
Pictures of Interior
In 1863, Preston B. Moss was born in Paris, Missouri, during the middle of the Civil War. He went to public schools, but attended Kemper Military Academy in Booneville, MO. for his high school / junior college years. Preston then went to Harvard College for a year, but finished his education at Eastman Business College, in Poughkeepsie, New York. After learning the banking business from his father while working for his father's bank, Preston started his business career by buying a string of lumber yards. Preston met the love of his life, Martha Woodson Jackson, who was a college educated woman, gifted in music and art. In Paris, MO, Preston and Martha were married on June 5, 1889. First child, son Woodson Jackson Moss, was born in Paris, MO, on April 17, 1890. Second child, daughter Kula, was also born in Paris, MO., on December 29, 1891.
In 1892, the Moss family moved to the up and coming railroad town of Billings, Montana, where Preston became a mover and a shaker. Preston was very gifted in the investment field. He not only developed the economy, but was a model leader and citizen. Mr. Moss became a prominent, investment banker in Billings, and did a lot to bring jobs and modern conveniences to this dusty western town. He started the first dial telephone company, founded a newspaper that was a forerunner of the Billings Gazette, and started a central heating plant and the Billings Utility Company.
In association with H. W. Rowley, Mr. Moss developed the Billings Light and Water Power Company, and the Northern Hotel. Preston Moss also assisted other prominent local citizens, such as I. D. O'Donnell, in development of local irrigation, the Sugar Factory, and the Billings Polytechnic Institute; (now Rocky Mountain College). Preston also started a toothpaste factory using bentonite, and a meat packing plant.
Perhaps Preston needed a meat-packing plant in Billings, due to his own ranching interests. In the early 1900s, Preston Moss and T. A. Snidow "ran 80,000 head of sheep, bearing the Moss-Snidow brand and several thousand head of cattle."
Preston also became a leader in the Masons' Montana State Organization, and served on the Billings School Board, making a difference in the public education offered to Billings school children. His children attended public schools that were available in Billings. When Billings finally built its high school, his daughter Melville, and his sons Preston and David all attended there, and weren't sent to east coast boarding high schools, which was common among the rich.
Four of their surviving children went to college on the East coast, while Preston, Jr., attended a business college in Billings. He served in the Army Medical Corps but never saw action in WW1, because the treaty was signed when his ship was half-way across the ocean. The ship just turned around and went home. I bet his parents and family were relieved.
All of the Moss children eventually returned to settle in Billings, becoming ranchers, house managers, working at Moss businesses, and even the railroad.
Four of the children enjoyed happy marriages, while Melville chose not to marry at all. Melville enjoyed being a musician, and traveling the world, as well as living at Moss Mansion, protecting and caring for it. Both of the parents were dead, so Melville stepped up to the plate. She has been credited in preserving all of it, including family items, so what originally was there is nearly intact.
Besides being the caretaker of the family artifacts and the upkeep of the mansion, inside and out, Melville also made the effort to get Moss Mansion onto The National Register of Historic Places, in 1982, two years before she died. David's wife, Marjorie and daughter, Marilyn, along with Preston's widow, Minnie Moss, inherited the mansion, and sold it to the City of Billings, via The Billings Preservation Society. The Montana Historical Society oversees to make sure the Moss Mansion is well taken care of. Entities of the Moss family members must be pleased with the efforts of The Billings Preservation Society, and some may still visit, it seems.
HISTORY of Manifestations:
Cherished homes of long-time resident families often are visited or have entities of these families stay in the beloved structure that they have many fond memories from their lives in this world. They have the tendency to visit or stay if they died in their homes, though family members who die elsewhere, have been known to come and visit too.
( Parry Mansion * Bush Mansion * LeDuc Mansion * Kelton Mansion * Columns Mansion )
The Moss Mansion was the Moss family home for its entire time as a private residence;(1903-1984), and was dearly loved and protected. As one would expect, several members of the Moss family died in this mansion. The youngest of the Mosses' children, little Virginia, died of diphtheria in the third month after her 6th birthday, on April 2nd, of 1908. Preston B. Moss died of a heart attack on Feb. 1st, of 1947, and his wife Martha Moss followed him in just 4 years later, dying of a Cerebral Hemorrhage, on November 6th, 1951. Finally, Melville Hollingsworth Moss died at the Mansion on November 2nd, 1984.
Children who die before they are ready to go often like to visit or stay in the home or place they felt the most comfortable in this world.
( Collingwood Art Center * Stranahan House * Gibbs Farmhouse * The Western Heritage Center * Stone Lion Inn )
Young Virginia probably felt most comfortable in a house where she lived since she was born, with people she dearly loved. Virginia is described as being a caring, social butterfly, and enjoyed terrific relationships with all she came in contact with, especially her family.
People who lose a loved one too soon, sometimes, as spirits, meet together with their loved ones in their earthly home, and make up some time that they didn't have together because of the premature death(s).
( Kenmore Plantation * Hartford Twain House * Huguenot House * Glebe House )
Little Virginia became most active when Melville was about to pass over, and has been seen more often since. Perhaps Melville visits the home, and she and Virginia spend some time together.
Their father, Preston, may also enjoy spending some time with two of his daughters, though there is no hard evidence of this, but is a theory of mine.
Personal items of the deceased that are on display in the family home or museum, can act like an environmental trigger, and draw their former owners, now in spirit, back to visit them, or even stay awhile.
( Hemingway House * Custer House * Tuck Museum Complex * Ashton Villa Mansion )
Many cherished, personal items and artifacts from the Moss family are on display, as well as the original curtains, fixtures, etc.
Tell-tale signs of paranormal activity; intelligent or residual, are reported:
A female voice was singing up in the Billiards Room, and was caught on an EVP. Could be residual, or a response to the music the investigators played.
A cool wind has been reported by staff and others, that goes up and around the living person's body. No logical explanation has been found to explain this.
Shadows have been seen by staff and others in various rooms in the mansion; especially Billiards Room and the Lobby/Foyer area.
The entity of Preston Moss
Has been seen walking down the central staircase many times.
He perhaps likes to stay in the master bedroom, at least at night.
An EVP, suggesting a male, was caught, "BRING ME FLASHLIGHT!"
Perhaps he didn't like it being so dark in his bedroom, as all the lights had been turned out for the investigation.
The entity of a child, Virginia
Was first noticed by the nurse who was attending Melville, a night before she died.
Montana Paranormal Research Society reports:
It seems that Melville was sleeping in a bed in the alcove of the master staircase, because Melville couldn't go up the stairs to the bedrooms. The night nurse was nearby, within earshot of Melville's bed, sleeping on a cot in the hallway off the kitchen. When the night nurse was awakened by sounds coming from Melville's area, she went and found that Melville was fine, but she also saw an apparition of a little girl, around 6 year old, standing on the landing near the master staircase.
Rich Newman, in his book, "Ghost Hunting Field Guide," made this report of another sighting by the night nurse:
The night nurse saw this child entity standing and watching Melville as she slept, sometime in the period during Melville's last illness, toward the end of her life.
The entity of Melville?
The EVPs caught by Montana Paranormal Research Society suggest that a female entity, Melville, may still be in the house, still checking up on the living, especially strangers in the house at night. The entity they talked to on the first floor, said her name, "Melville," who was being the good hostess; polite yet watchful.
Another EVP caught voices of a woman and a child.
Woman's Voice with Little Kid - Main Lobby:
This perhaps is Melville and Virginia, or perhaps someone else not yet known?
In another EV, listed below, Melville might have been the spirit that told them that she couldn't go with them, perhaps upstairs; still thinking she has the same medical issues, & can't go up the stairs? Or perhaps she wanted to keep an eye on the characters in the command station, and the investigations occurring on the first floor.
Staff and probably visitors have had some personal experiences, had seen entities, shadows, and had felt winds that one doesn't experience every day. The folks in charge allowed a reputable paranormal investigation group, Montana Paranormal Research Society, into Moss Mansion, allowing this group to conduct an investigation, probably to be sure that the staff didn't just need a long vacation.
5/15/09 - Montana Paranormal Research Society held an investigation, resulting in catching some EVP's, as well as having some personal experiences.
Personal Experiences: some experiences that were reported by the investigators:
Some shadows were seen in the main lobby and Billiards room.
After playing some music of the era, one investigator thought she saw a "shadow in the French Parlor near the harp, also I thought I saw a shadow in the library and heard some type of noise."
An investigator experienced the quick, cool wind that goes up the body and around.
Evidence Collected (audio/picture):
Woman's Voice with Little Kid - Main Lobby
"Right Near You" - Master Staircase / "Bring Me Flashlight" - Master Bedroom
"I can't come with you" - French Parlor / "Thank You" - Main Lobby
"Melville" - Dining Room / Female Singing - Upstairs Billiards Room
Women's Voice - P.B. Office
Most Probably! Despite their EVPs caught, Montana Paranormal Research Society felt that they needed to have another investigation to gather more hard evidence, but admitted the possibility that spirits were keeping the staff and visitors company.
Staff and visitors must be relieved though, after hearing all the evidence caught in the EVP's and that the investigators had experienced the same personal experiences they had.
Personal experiences reported and the hard evidence caught suggest that at least two spirits, perhaps three, who are benign yet watchful, like to visit a lot or stay for a while. The entity of 6 year old Virginia, the male entity of her father, Preston Moss, and perhaps the female entity, Melville, keep an eye on the Moss Mansion, while enjoying the memories of their beloved home with each other. Other family members may also visit too.