You can add the Guntersville Museum to places in Guntersville that may be haunted.
In its past lives, it was the Guntersville National Guard Armory and then it spent about 20 years serving as the main Guntersville fire station before it was converted to the museum.
“Former firefighters stop by sometimes and tell stories,” Museum director Julie Patton said.
It’s not just that they felt a presence. Several said they heard things as well.
Anthony Berry, a 26-year veteran of the Guntersville fire service, spent the early years of his career at the museum when it was a fire station. He had an incident once.
“We worked 3 man shifts,” he said. “The other 2 were out on a call and I was at the station by myself. I heard someone screaming.”
He went to investigate and found nothing.
“I know it sounds crazy,” he said.
He said the other men who were firefighters during that era had even more stories to tell.
Patton didn’t indicate whether she’d had any incidents of her own since becoming the museum director. But she said the building can be a little creepy when it’s getting dark outside and you’re there by yourself. She makes it a point to never stay too late into the evening, regardless of the type of project she has going on.
One man who ought to have ghost stories about the old armory/fire hall/Museum, but doesn’t is former fire chief Buck Brown, who’s probably spent as much time in the old building as anyone.
“I never had the haunted experience,” Brown said. “But I know the stories. Johnny Lang, Ed Oaks, Anthony Berry, they all had stories.
Brown recalled there was a weight room in one of the downstairs areas.
The men’s sleeping quarters was upstairs.
On one particularly eventful night, a ghost must have wanted a workout. A firefighter sleeping upstairs was awakened by weights clanking in the workout room.
“This guy was mad that someone was working out that late and had awakened him,” Berry said. “He came downstairs ready to get after somebody.”
The weight room was empty when he got there.
"I never heard anything when I was there," Brown said.
The fire hall was a real spook house for a period of time. For about 6 years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the firemen would put on a haunted house there. They had an awful lot of fun with it.
"You know how it kind of looks like a castle," Brown said. "We had a draw bridge to get down in the part with the haunted house."
The firemen would raise several thousand dollars with the haunted house. Then they'd use that money to help people they encountered in their work.
"If we ran a call and someone was down and out, we might buy them groceries," Brown said. "Every year, we took the money we made off the haunted house and we helped someone. One lady needed gas to heat with. Her husband had left her and it was about to turn cold. We used the money to help some families with gifts for their kids at Christmas. We helped a lot of people."
He recalled one year when there were about 200 people waiting outside just to go through the haunted firehouse.
"It was different every year and it always drew big crowds," Brown said.
Spookhouses back in that era always had a maniac with a chainsaw who would chase visitors. That turned out to be the end for the firemen's haunted house.
They would take the chain off the bar, but this particular bar had a nick in it. Someone got their jeans ripped and they ended up having to go to the hospital for a cut on their leg. A couple of others got nicked too.
"We paid for the jeans and the hospital bill," Brown said. "But the mayor said that was enough with the haunted house."
Buck recalled that he did hear one spooky noise during his time working at the station.
"We had a fire cat who hung around the station," he said.
Possums were also notorious for getting in the station. The doors were usually up to accommodate the fire trucks.
"This possum went back to where the fire cat's food was," Brown said. "The cat heard it and went back there. The possum sulled up and there were some awful noises coming from back there, but the cat won."