On first glance you probably wouldn’t think that the Julia Ideson Building is haunted. After all, the Spanish Renaissance style architecture and beautiful surrounding courtyards are anything but spooky on the surface. Yet lurking inside is the spirit of a former staff member from the building’s earlier days. . .
The Julia Ideson Building’s resident ghost, Jacob Frank Cramer, worked for many years as a night watchman. He would often play his violin in the evenings from the top floor of what is now the Tudor gallery before retiring to his on-site basement apartment. On a November morning in 1936, librarians found him dead. But Cramer has never really left the building, returning in spirit when the mood strikes him to play his melodies once more.
I’ve even heard him myself. It was a dark and stormy night… No, not really. Actually, I was just working on the third floor one afternoon for my library school internship, but it just so happened that I was all alone in the building. The only other person in the entire building at the time was the security guard downstairs. The Ideson Building is closed on Fridays, and the rest of the staff was either off for the day or out at a conference.
So at around 4:00PM that day I began to pack up the archival material I was working with when I heard the faint sounds of a violin playing a slow and slightly plaintive song.
“That’s….really weird…,” I thought to myself. The stone walls of the Ideson building are fairly thick, and there certainly wasn’t anyone else in the building who would be playing music! Needless to say, it was spooky enough that I packed up my stuff and went on my way.
It wasn’t until later that year at a staff and volunteer Christmas party that I learned about Jacob Cramer from an archivist. The only reason I can think of for Cramer paying me a visit is because I used to play the violin in school. Perhaps he thought I would appreciate his music. . .
How about you? Have you ever seen or heard a ghost? Share your spooky story in the comments!
Learn more about the Julia Ideson Building from the following related resources:
Julia Ideson and 110 years of the Houston Public Library
Julia Ideson: Honoring Houston’s First Librarian
Sounds of Ghosts Fill Ideson Library's Halls - Houston Chronicle, October 31, 2006