The haunted house on Hobo Hill: Potentially Jefferson City's newest Airbnb
JEFFERSON CITY - A tale out of Jefferson City combines elements of horror stories like Poltergeist, Paranormal Activities and the Amityville Horror. A family finds its dream home only to be forced out by malevolent spirits.
Here's the twist - this family is welcoming guests who want the experience of being haunted. They want to turn it into an Airbnb.
The Hobo Hill District is a national historic district in Jefferson City made up of seven homes built from about 1908 - 1911. According to the Historic City of Jefferson, it was home to the first school in the city and children were educated in the attics.
There are a few tales about how the district got its nickname and one has to do with baseball.
Janet Maurer, Historic City of Jefferson Chair of the Oral History Project, said, “One story is they used to have baseball games in town and so gentlemen would sit up on this hill like freeloaders and watch the game. Some of the other people down low would call them 'hobos' because you’re freeloaders watching the game.”
In 2017, a local family purchased one of the Hobo Hill homes. Erin and Aaron Clark say they fell in love with an American Foursquare built in 1910. They bought it and began renovating the home. After a few months, they moved in with their two children. By their account, the paranormal activity started almost immediately.
Aaron Clark said, “The ongoing joke was, ‘oh, this house is haunted.’ That was the ongoing joke at first.”
Erin Clark explained the issues they were having at the beginning. She said it started with lights, TVs, radios, fans, faucets and heaters turning on and off.
Their dog, a 70-pound pitbull, refused to go up and down the stairs, so the family had to carry him.
Erin Clark said, “People were like 'that dog is scared. That house is haunted.' He would not go up and down the stairs.”
Aaron Clark said things started escalating.
“My wife was experiencing a lot of feelings of fear in the house. My daughter was experiencing a bunch of different things, not so much me. What was making me more upset is that it was affecting my two ladies in the house. That’s when I started noticing a lot of change, especially with our daughter,” he said.
The Clarks’ daughter Rayna started having night terrors and sleepwalking, something they say she had never done in the past.
Erin Clark said her daughter started “coming out of her room and doing this shaking thing and laughing and crying. She kept saying a red and black man was trying to lock her in her room, but 'Mommy I escaped.'”
As the night terrors increased for their daughter, the Clarks decided to seek help. After multiple recommendations to cleanse the house with sage, the Clarks tried it.
Aaron Clark said, “They told us to get sage, have one of us say the St. Michael’s Prayer, come to the bottom of the house and run the walls left. So, we’d light this big old sage piece-deal and you're supposed to run it counter-clockwise.”
The family also sought help from a medium.
Erin Clark said, “Apparently, we have multiple entities. And, actually, the medium who came said that hundreds of people had been tortured in our basement.”
One day while cleaning her daughter’s room, Erin Clark said, she saw a man in an old-fashioned black suit and top hat. She said that was the first time she actually saw anything, but she'd felt things in the past.
She said she felt something lie on top of her two separate times while she was in bed.
Aaron Clark said, “The next morning, I think we were just in tears, we were so stressed out."
Erin Clark said she told him: 'I can’t do this anymore. We have to go,'”
Aaron Clark expanded on that by saying, “I didn’t feel like this house was mine anymore.”
After the Clarks decided to move, they started doing research on the house. Kim Bryant, Erin Clark’s mom, said she started digging into the house and its previous owners’ history.
Bryant said, “The News Tribune did an article about Violet and Elijah Ramsey who were former slaves in the late 1800s who were freed and purchased. They saved up their money and purchased this whole hilltop. There’s an amazing picture I found of their actual cabin. It was very rustic, a one-room cabin.”
The Clarks are continuing to do research. They posted on Facebook asking Jefferson City residents for any information. Regardless of what they discover, the Clarks made it clear they could never sell the home after what they experienced.
Aaron Clark said, “Our morals, we couldn’t sell this to another family. Just because of the fact of what we’ve experienced. We put a lot of hard work into this house and we put a lot of love, and blood, sweat, tears in the house. We can turn it into an Airbnb-style, turn it into a business to keep the home.”
After announcing their plans on social media, the Clarks are already noticing an uptick in interest in the home. They say people are driving by slowly, stopping on walks to take pictures or coming up and looking through the windows.
Bryant, who will act as the house manager of the Airbnb, said, “We’re getting a lot of calls from people who are excited to stay here in conjunction with those prison tours.”
Moving has been bittersweet for the Clarks.
“My whole family has worked on this house," Erin Clark said. "It makes me emotional. And, it’s ours. It’s mine. It makes me mad that we had to move. So, for us, making it into an Airbnb will keep it nice and beautiful and showcase what we’ve done instead of letting it go to. I wouldn’t rent it out.”
Right now, the Clarks are going through the approval-process with the city to turn their home into an Airbnb. They've passed the first stage and go in front of the city council on November 19.