The typewriter keys click and clack, but there’s not a soul in sight to explain the eerie sounds and phantom movements at the old Cotton Exchange building at Reynolds and Eighth streets. A ghost named Isabella is sending shivers up the spines of bank tellers in the building, which houses a branch of Georgia Bank and Trust.
In recent months, odd things keep happening. A ghost won’t leave the workers alone. She tried to communicate from the typewriter, now locked in a back room, unplugged and paperless. Chairs swivel in circles, and computers appear possessed until tellers call out for Isabella to stop her hauntings.
“I got spooked out with the typewriter,” said Emmie Nowell, a customer service representative. “There are a lot of things that can’t be explained.”
Michael Wolff, the operator of the Augusta Ghost Trolley tour company, doesn’t know why Isabella lurks around the Cotton Exchange.
“We don’t know why she’s associated with this bank. One of the ladies said it’s her way of getting back at the men who used to work there,” Wolff said.
Hauntings are connected to several places in Augusta, including ghost-tour stops at the Ezekiel Harris House, Sibley Mill and the childhood home of Woodrow Wilson. The stories, many with historical ties to the Revolution and the Civil War, have been passed on through generations and written in books about Augusta hauntings.
Recently, people have come forward with stories of their own scary ghost encounters on Broad Street. At the Empire Building at Broad and 12th streets, a nighttime janitorial worker reports that the room’s temperature drops before she hears footsteps and feels a ghost aggressively touch her, Wolff said.
Another ghost-tour stop, the Old Medical College of Georgia building on Telfair Street, serves up creepy tales for visitors and passers-by. An excavation uncovered nearly 600 bodies that had been interred in the basement walls after they were used as cadavers for medical students, according to Janis Ann Parks, the author of Gravely Mistaken: Tales of Medicine, Mishaps and Body Snatching in Augusta, Ga.
In 1854, grave-robber Grandison Harris lifted the bodies from Cedar Grove Cemetery off Watkins Street. According to legend, a student slipped into one of the body bags and called out to Harris, who was known as “Resurrection Man.” Spooked that he was being haunted, Harris hit the student in the head with a shovel and buried him in Cedar Grove, possibly still alive.
“It’s pretty creepy, all the bodies that were lifted and the superstition that surrounds it,” Parks said.