SHE WHO WALKS THESE HALLS...
The History of 914 Mt Alexander Road, Essendon
2, 2012, 1:45 am
In this lovely old building which displays the crest of the House of Windsor,
lives a mystery in the form of a ghost. She has been seen by a few but felt by many.
She even has a name.
After seeing her myself I decided to investigate the prior occupants of the place known by
many locals as a favored drinking hole. Prior to being the famous Irish pub it was a hardware store
and before that an abattoir to the Governor of Victoria/butcher shop owned by Mr Andrew Swan.
Mr Swan was also a colourful member of the local council and there are some very interesting
stories found at the Essendon Historical Society of the meetings held.
Andrew Swan was born in 1843 in Roscommon, Ireland. He married Elizabeth
Gardiner in Collingwood in 1868. Together they had 10 children. Only 7 children remained
after the age of 10 and one, Lavinia died at 22 from tuberculosis. It is believed that Lavinia still
walks the corridors of 914 Mt Alexander Road, Essendon and I know this to be true as I saw
her with my own eyes.
The upstairs area of the building, now known as Annie’s Restaurant, is the original bedrooms
and living area of the original building. Lavinia would have died here in bed on January 5th, 1904.
“Cause of Death: Acute tuberculosis of lungs. 12 months. Tuberculous meningitis (TB)” is listed.
She was laid to rest at Melbourne General Cemetery on January 7 but lives on in the place
she was born and lived a very short life at.
In 2011 I saw her sitting on a couch in a long, white night gown. Her hair was very long
and tied back in a plait. I was not scared. I felt like I knew her straight away.
She has never appeared to me again but she will often let me know she is with me when
I work by touching the back of my hair or walking by me leaving a breath of air in her wake.
She will often make things move, noisily, as if to let me know she is still around.
Only a few weeks ago she broke a glass. Nobody else was in the building and there were no doors or windows open.
Historically, Andrew Swan would take his horse and cart to the cattle yard a couple of times a week,
located at what is now the large roundabout at Mt Alexander Road and Keilor Road, where the Lincolnshire Arms is. Here he would buy his cattle and walk them back the 3kms or so to 914 Mt Alexander Road. He would then proceed to slaughter them at the rear of the building which had sawdust covering the ground. Once done he would take them to the cool cellar to keep. His shop was the front of the building which had no windows. The meat would hang there for passer-bys to peruse his display of fine meats.
The blood from the slaughter would makes it way through the lacklustre drainage system
and end up running down Buckley Street (towards Pascoe Vale Road). This was a disgusting, and I assume smelly, passage and another councillor would make visits to Andrew Swan in protest.
This came to head one day at council when he dumped a large bag full of carcasses
in front of Andrew Swan to say “how does it feel”? This is noted in the minutes of the meetings.
Lavinia made her presence known in April last year at a “Royal Wedding” function in Annie’s Restaurant. A woman asked the current owner about the history of the building as she felt someone was with them that evening in the form of non-living presence. Photo’s taken on the evening are quite disturbing. The one here has not been doctored or touched up in any way and appeared like this when they were viewed the following day. It shows a wedding dress which was displayed on the night but a person now appears in the background. The photo was emailed to guests to see if anyone noticed this person on the night. Nobody recognises the face.
This second photo appears to have someone standing between the photographer and the two
ladies being photographed. Lavinia certainly likes to let you know she’s around.
Another story told by Denis O’Sullivan from a few years ago tells of the day he came by early to let a
tradesman into the building. When he arrived he looked through the front windows (as was his habit) and noticed a woman walking through the rear part of the 2nd bar (the dancefloor on busier nights).
He assumed it was Veronica O’Sullivan. He walked in and didn’t bother to disarm the alarm (assuming it was already done) and he could also hear music playing upstairs. He called out to Veronica and then to his shock the alarms went off. It wasn’t Veronica in the building but the appearance of a woman who was entertaining. He was completely alone. Was it Lavinia? After hearing my tale of seeing her and the description I gave, he has no doubt.
Hi my daughter works in the hairdresser she tells me that a door out the very back - where there is no breeze often slams shut, she feels awful in the back rooms of the salon, Thanks for your story, this may be why she feels so strange and uncomfortable in the building especialy when she is aone.