For this week’s ghost story I am going to bring it closer to home and look into some ghosts that haunt the streets and houses of Lake Forest.
If you’ve ever lived in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, or you just really like ghost stories, you have probably heard of Schweppe Mansion. Schweppe Mansion is an estate located on Mayflower Road in Lake Forest. It was given as a gift to Laura and Charles Schweppe as a wedding present from former Marshall Field Chairman John G. Shedd (Laura’s father). It was designed by the architect Frederick Wainwright Perkins. According to Curbed Chicago, the 1917 home sat vacant for over 40 years, until purchased in the late 80’s, where it was renovated by the new owners using 70 different artists. This couple has been the only people to live in the house since, but no longer live there.
The Lake Forest Patch states that in 1937, when owned by the Schweppes, Mrs. Schweppe passed away. She left $200,000 of her $10 million fortune to her husband. Not long after, Mr. Schweppe took his own life in 1941 in the upstairs bedroom, leaving a note that said, “I’ve been awake all night. It’s terrible” (Curbed Chicago). In keeping with this, Real Haunted Houses states that the halls of the house are haunted by the servants and Charles Schweppe in the bedrooms. When talking to Mrs. Kathy O’Hara, the Village President of Lake Bluff, she told me a story she was told when she was younger. The head of the security group for Schweppe Mansion told her a story he was told by the caretaker of the estate, who had known Mr. Schweppe. One night, the caretaker was walking around the house, making sure everything was locked up and in good condition when he saw a man in the backyard of the house. When the caretaker went over to the man, he was asked how the house was doing. The caretaker said the house was good and everything was in good condition. He never saw the man again, and swears that it was in fact Mr. Schweppe to whom he was talking.
This second story is one high school students can relate to a little bit more. Marion Lambert was an 18 year old girl who lived in Lake Forest on the estate of Baron Jonas Kuppenheimer with her parents in 1916. She attended Deerfield High School in Highland Park and was a very lively, happy spirit according to her parents and local community members. She was seeing a boy a few years older named Will Orpet, who also lived in Lake Forest. The Chicago Tribune states that they were most likely family friends.
Orpet began sending Lambert letters while he studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin. On April 8, 1915, Orpet wrote Lambert, “I want to see you, dearest, and I want you badly. If I could only get my arm around you, and get up close to you and kiss the life out of you, I would be happy.” During this time period, Orpet was head over heels for Lambert; however, she didn’t quit feel the same.
The Chicago Tribune states that on one of Orpet’s trips home, the two went on a walk near where Barat College used to be located. After this visit, however, the couple’s feelings had changed. This time, Lambert was all about Orpet, but his letters had changed. He no longer had interest in her and was seeing other people. Lambert had a feeling she was pregnant, to which Orpet sent her a “potion” to “relieve her ‘delicate condition.’’’
On February 6, 1916, Lambert turned 18 years old. Two days following this she received a phone call while a friend was over. Her friend stated at the time that she looked distraught. The next day, while waiting for the train to go to school, Marion announced to her friend that she had to mail a letter and would catch the next train.
That night, Marion’s father went to the Sacred Heart Train Station to pick her up. Strangely, she didn’t get off that train, nor the one an hour later. She had told her father previously that she was attending a party that night in Highland Park. Knowing this, her father went to the party to look for her. Upon arriving, he discovered that she was not at the party, and she never even made it to school that day.
Her father returned home and left a light on for her, hoping she would return home. When she hadn’t later in the night, he went out with a friend to go and search for her. What he found was unbearable. They followed two sets of footprints in the snow walking away from the station. In the forest, lying on her side, was Marion, still holding her textbooks. In her right hand was some white powder crystals. Her mouth was swollen, blistered, and frothed with blood. It was later discovered that she had died from cyanide poisoning. How had she gotten cyanide? Why was she out in the forest in the middle of winter alone? Was she alone?
After some investigation, it was announced that Will Orpet was in fact in town on the night of February. 9, 1916. He had gone through great lengths to hide the fact that he was in town. He made his bed in college look slept in and he borrowed a friend’s coat to stay hidden. He also had access to cyanide in the greenhouse of his home, but so did Lambert. The cyanide that matched the one used in the death of Marion Lambert was the one she had access to at Deerfield High School in the chemistry department. But why had she killed herself? Maybe it was because she discovered Orpet no longer felt the same- and was even planning on marrying another girl from college. Maybe he really did kill her and no one knows.
There is one known sighting of Marion Lambert. As the Chicago Tribune reported it, recently a woman was driving down Sheridan Road, where the former Barat College used to be, when she saw a girl on the side of the road in a long blue dress which was wet from the rain. When the woman grabbed her phone to call the police, the girl on the side of the road smiled, showing off her black stained mouth that was caused by cyanide poisoning. The woman driving knew something wasn’t right. The lights of her car went through the girl, which is when she knew this was not a living human.
Just remember, if you’re in need of a house, there’s a beautiful one on the lake just waiting to be purchased, you may even get some surprise company while you’re there! If you see a girl who doesn’t quite look all there on the side of the road, she may really not be there at all…