Speakers share details about ‘House on Parker Hill’

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By Sue Hughes | For The Times-Post

PENDLETON — In the final presentation of Pendleton Historical Museum’s recent three-part Sunday Speakers Series, Pendleton resident Sandi Butler led the talk about the home known locally as The House on Parker Hill.
Butler said she and her husband, Dick, both grew up in Anderson. They were in Pendleton one day in 1986 and saw the house on the north side of Fall Creek Drive east of Main Street.
At the time, the home had not been lived in for several years and was in rough shape. They walked up the drive and looked in the windows.
“We need to buy this,” Sandi recalled Dick saying.
They called Ellen Kinnard Shaw, who owned the house, and asked about buying it.
Shaw, who lived in New Orleans, said, “I’ll put you on the list with about a million other people.”
The Butlers went back a year later and took a more thorough look at the house. Afterward they felt sure it was “the place where we want to raise our children,” Sandi said.
They again contacted Shaw, and she agreed to a plan for the Butlers to acquire the home.
“When I told people that we live in The House on Parker Hill, they would say, ‘The haunted house on the hill?,’ and I would say, ‘Yes, the haunted house on the hill,’” Sandi said.
The house is built in an Eastlake style.
The walls are limestone and have a wall on the inside and the outside, or what’s called balloon style.
“This makes the house very sturdy,” Sandi said.
They believe the house was built between 1870 and 1881, but they aren’t sure.
After some research, Butler discovered the first owner of the property was James Irish. Eventually, Col. George W. Parker, who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, built the house. Parker died in the house in the room with his name on it. His name is still there.
The Kinnards bought the house in 1920. Ellen Kinnard Shaw became sole owner of the home after her grandparents died.
“We think the back part of the house was added on to, because it is different from the front. We think it started as a two-room house,” Sandi said.
The house has four floors and 4,500 square feet of living space.
There are 38 windows in the house, and the Butlers rebuilt all the windows on the first floor except the kitchen windows.
They found a patent that read 1868 on the windows.
Some of the windows are 11 feet tall.
“Everything in the house was original,” Sandi said.
The house is set on a limestone foundation, and it was sinking; they used railroad jacks to raise it up.
“The house became a family project,” Sandi said.
She said one of their problems in the house was raccoons. She said they were everywhere.
The house needed a lot of work. “Every piece of woodwork in the house was redone,” Butler said.
Talking about the stairs, she said, “Everybody who comes in the house is allowed to slide down the railing.”
Dick added the stairs are made of walnut.
There was crown molding in every room on the first floor except the kitchen.
The fireplace in the front parlor features real gold leaf. The mirror over the fireplace is 8 feet tall.
“Now we are going to talk about the haunted part, I know that’s why you are all here,” Sandi said with a laugh.
“We lived there 33 years and never saw a ghost,” she said. “But when our son Joshua was about 7 or 8 years old, he was sleeping in Col. Parker’s room, and he (Joshua) came in our room at about 3 in the morning and he was crying. He said, ‘There was a man standing over me, and he had a blue suit with gold buttons and a beard.’ I told him it was Col. Parker and he likes kids — go back to bed, and he did!”
Sandi said one pizza delivery man refused to come into the house to deliver their order. She said she had to go out on the porch to pay for the pizzas.
She said many people swore they saw lights on in the house when no one lived there. That was the reflection in the big mirror of car lights, she said.
They also have never found any evidence of the rumor that a horse was buried in the backyard.
After 33 years, the Butlers decided the house was too big for just the two of them, so they sold it to their son and moved into a smaller place.
“It’s a house of peace,” Butler said.
“It started out as a labor of love and became a career,” Dick said.