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Parmly Billings Library –
Haunted Place: Parmly Billings Library
510 North Broadway
Billings, Montana 59101
Parmly Billings Library web site
The Parmly Billings Library is located near the intersection of North Broadway and 6th Avenue North, around three and a quarter blocks south of Billings Clinic Hospital.
Parmly Billings Library on Google Maps
The Parmly Billings Library is a large, square, red brick building that has 6 floors plus a basement, and is full of everything a modern library offers its citizens, including many book collections, resource materials, DVDs, books on tape, and music. The outside structure is definitely a 1955 style building, but the interior has been renovated into a modern library to house its marvelous collections, computers, etc.
Parmly Billings Library was founded in 1901, opening as "The Parmly Billings Memorial Library," in memory of town founder Frederick Billings' 25 year old son, Parmly, who suddenly died while in Billings, Montana, looking after his father's businesses. The original library was located at 2822 Montana Ave., in the beautiful stone building that is now the home of The Western Heritage Center.
In 1969, The Parmly Billings Memorial Library had outgrown this aging original building, that was now a definite fixer-upper opportunity. Parmly Billings Memorial Library was moved to the huge, six floor Billings Hardware Store Building, that was built on this spot, in 1955. The inside of this then 12 year old building was renovated to fit the needs of a growing, evolving library. A 1955 building with a solid bones structure that could be renovated to serve as a library sure was a good decision to solve the problem of needing a bigger place in better shape.
This property, where the Billings Hardware Store building was constructed, had always been popular spot for homes and commerce. Before 1955, homes and small businesses were located on this piece of land, but were torn down to make room for the Billings Hardware Store building. Perhaps business for the Billings Hardware Store wasn't as profitable as expected, for they sold the building just 12 years or so later. Or perhaps the owner of this business retired, or died.
Sometime in the library's history being located in this spot, "Memorial" WAS DROPPED from its name, becoming just The Parmly Billings Library, still remembering the early demise of dear Parmly Billings.
Currently, according to their website, a new library building is being constructed, to house the library, to be renamed, "The Billing Public Library." At the end of 2013, the old library building will be torn down. One notices that the new library will be called simply, "The Billings Public Library."
Uh Oh! Poor old Parmly will no longer be remembered in the title. Sometimes when gifts are given in the form of a structure, to be used for a specific use, but the wishes are discounted, the entities which gave this gift become upset with the living:
( Muhlenberg College - Oscar Bernheim )
In this case, while the building was changed, the early demise of Parmly was still remembered, in having his name in the library title, which was Frederick's original dream: To honor his son with a library named after him. This may trigger a visit or two by entities from the Billings Family to the new library, as Spirits don't always realize that time has passed by:
( William Morris Hunter * Liberty Hall - Mrs. Varick )
Time will tell the story. In the present building, though, there are spirits who along with the living patrons enjoy the library.
HISTORY of Manifestations:
Not much is known why these entities are staying in the Parmly Billings Library building. Listed below are possible reasons for the paranormal activity.
Public places like libraries, theaters, parks, that have provided people with a lot of pleasure and joy, sometimes are the places that entities like to visit or even stay as residents in their after-life.
( The Kansas City Music Hall * The Pagoda on Five Mile Road * Natatorium * The Crystal Ballroom * Pike Place Market )
A library in a small town is a great source of entertainment, offering books, etc. Some of the entities here must enjoy reading!
People who enjoy working in museums, libraries, theaters, and charities have an invested interest in this passion, and sometimes like to come back and continue on, making their presence known, helping the living or just going about their work that they have long enjoyed doing. Sometimes it can be just the residual energy that they left behind as well.
( Speed Museum * Willard Library-Margaret Maier * State Theater Center for the Arts * Easton Business School Building )
Perhaps an entity who was a former resource librarian or volunteer is helping in the basement, supervising the staff.
Entities who are haunting the land due to the fact that they died there, were laid to rest there, or they loved their structure that once stood there, have been known to just move right on into the new building that was built on this land.
( Willard Library-Lady in Gray * Easton Library * Emerald Queen Casino * Capitol Records Building * The National Aviary )
Houses and small business buildings/store fronts were all knocked down to make room for the Hardware storage building.
Perhaps an entity or two had a home or a business on this land, and have decided that they like the library just as well.
Perhaps a former owner of the Hardware building is also in residence.
Sometimes people are so attached to items that they cherish while alive, that they want to stay or visit where these items are now kept, to perhaps also keep an eye on the living who protect these items.
( Redwood Library and Anthenaeum * Moss Mansion Historic House Museum * Historic Bush Mansion Museum * Minneapolis Institute of the Arts )
The basement is full of old, valuable book collections, and resource items that perhaps were donated by someone to this library, and can be used only through a librarian.
Major renovations, restorations and changes made to a building can act like an environmental trigger that brings entities into this world on an active level. The living find that they have some unseen supervisors and perhaps a teasing unseen presence, as there is always one in every crowd.
( The Rex Restaurant * The Historic Kewaunee Inn * Lemp Mansion * Geiser Grand * Old Tacoma City Hall )
Paranormal activity was noticed in this building after both renovations done to this building; 1967-68 renovations & the 2005 fire code upgrades as well.
Paranormal Investigator Karen Stevens tells of the paranormal activity details in her book, "Haunted Montana". Paranormal Investigator Rich Newman in his book, "Ghost Hunter's Guide" also gives some interesting accounts of paranormal activity. Below are the highlights. To see all the details, please purchase their books.
Entity of a Tall Man; On the Fifth Floor: First seen by a no-nonsense security officer.
Described as being a very tall, over 6 ft apparition, who likes to hang around the staff lounge room and kitchen.
The security officer reported that he looked like he was dressed in white.
A second witness was a new employee, reading a book in the lounge. She looked up for a moment and saw a very tall, smoky colored, glass-like man come out of the kitchen, who did a quick about-face when she saw him.
Entity of Female; On the Third Floor: Described as being medium height, with shoulder-length brown hair and glasses.
This female entity appeared as a full person; very life-like. A staff member saw her, but before he could enter the room and find out if she needed something, she vanished.
This same staff member has also heard a woman's disembodied laugh while working all alone on the third floor. Several times.
Two Male Entities; On the Second Floor:
One Male Entity - Described as wearing work clothes and cowboy boots; (Rich Newman source). It is thought that he may be just residual energy by some, because he never reacts to living people.
His see-through form is seen going about his business in his own world, on the second floor, ignoring what is going on around him.
Another Male Entity - Appeared as a full or semi-see-through figure.
This tall entity appeared at the corner of the Northeast book stack row, showing many details of his person, observed by a brave volunteer, before fading away, becoming unseen yet still felt.
The volunteer, a retired military policeman, NOT easily scared, described this entity as being around six feet tall, "With light brown to dark blonde hair, wearing dark, heavy shirt and pants, a heavy, ankle-high work shoe, and a square hat with a bill on it."
While having a stare-down with this entity, this volunteer staff member reported feeling the tell-tale tingly feeling on his body. Right after the entity vanished, this volunteer made a bee-line to the Northeast aisle, where he not only felt stronger tingly sensations, but also saw startling evidence of someone having read books in comfort, like a living person. All the books had been put back in the shelves before closing, and at 6:30 A.M., THE LIBRARY WAS CLOSED TO PATRONS, except perhaps the spirit people!
In the Basement:
Karen Stevens, who had started working as a historical resource person at this library, in 1986, explains some activity in detail that had happened in the basement. The basement is not open to the public, unless it seems that you are a spirit!
People hear unexplainable odd noises.
Light cords will suddenly swing wildly without any help from the living, or from vibrations or heating/air-conditioning ducts.
Staff who work in the basement have felt that they were being carefully watched.
Entity of Young Male - Described as being a solid gray form.
Often seen out of the corner of the eye by staff members, for a brief moment.
Karen herself described her experience with this young male entity in the book stacks.
Entity of Woman - Described as being a dark-haired, intense woman.
Has been glimpsed by many staff members, and has made herself known to particular people in the basement.
One librarian went into the basement, in 2003, to get a book for a patron. Imagine her surprise when she saw a dark-haired, solid woman, crouching down behind the book stack. She looked real, but the librarian knew that she wasn't. She turned around and made a bee-line toward the elevator, feeling that this entity was following her. As the librarian entered the elevator, she felt the entity's presence right by the door, but the librarian didn't look up to see her.
Activity reported during the 2005 fire code renovations:
Workmen who were hired to work on these important up-grades during the night-time hours, soon found that they were not alone.
Entities made themselves present in a variety of general ways, letting the workmen know that they had company, even watching them closely, as they worked. One such instance is described below.
One worker was putting up drywall. When he turned around, all the chairs at the table behind him, were turned toward him, like a bunch of entities were watching him work. He turned the chairs back, and continued working on this project. Stopping to rest, he again saw the chairs had turned without a sound toward him.
One worker even had an unseen presence keep him company, following him up in the elevator.
Karen Stevens, wearing her paranormal investigator hat, went to the third floor, and left her recorder running, to try to record the reported female laughter, but when she had come back to check on it later, someone "not living" had turned it off. Slightly annoyed, she turned it back on, remarking that "someone" didn't want the living to know that this spirit was there. At this moment, her RECORDER CAUGHT AN EVP of the female entity, laughing!
As recently as January of 2013, The Montana Paranormal Research Society
"conducted a full-out investigation of this building, resulting in video and audio evidence that so far seem promising." Looking forward to their general published results, with a more detailed version, probably offered on a DVD for $10.00, which goes to support this fine group of investigators.
Yes, Indeed! The quality of personal experiences & actual sightings sure do make it a very strong possibility that entities call this building, "Home." Plus, The Montana Paranormal Research Society and Karen Smith have caught hard evidence of paranormal activity, backing up some of the experiences reported by people.
Several questions arise about what will happen when the building is torn down.
Will the spirits simply move on? Or, will they wait for whatever is built on the land after the building is torn down, and move in there, giving paranormal investigators move buildings to explore?
Will the spirits simply follow to the new library? Spirits have been known to attach to items and move to the next building.
( Barnstable House * McLellan-Sweat House * Belcourt Castle )
The new Billings Library may inherit some spirits from the old building, or may pick up a few new ones, who may be a little annoyed with the living for dropping Parmly's name from the title of the new library. It should be interesting to see what happens!
The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide
By Rich Newman
by Karen Stevens
Parmly Billings Library page on Haunted Montana.com