A fuse had blown, or so Jon Hyers thought.
But in the dark, century-old basement of the St. Peter home his family was renting, Jon couldn’t see inside the fuse boxes, so he turned to go upstairs and get a flash light. And just as he did, the doors to the fuse boxes slammed shut.
No windows were open. No fans were on. The doors didn’t have springs. He was alone in the basement.
Then 16, all of Jon’s knowledge about physics — from the design of the fuse-box doors to the vibrations of his steps to the draftiness of the old house — all of it rushed through his mind in the span of a couple of
seconds, trying to explain away three metal doors slamming
But he couldn’t. So he ran.
“I was freaked. ... When (my brother and I) went back, there was no blown fuse,” said Jon, whose family had just moved to town from Wisconsin and were renting the home on North 3rd Street while their house was being built.
One spooky incident doesn’t make much of a story. Nine months of eerie moments, on the other hand — noises, visions, unexplainable circumstances — that’s something.
Some members of the Hyers family truly believe the house on North 3rd Street is haunted, and they believe they bared witness to the haunting for nine months from 1977-78. Jon, now a filmmaker and media specialist, is one of those believers.
With the evolution of video technology over the past few years, Jon decided to use his filmmaking skills to tell the story of what his family went through.
“The Haunting of North 3rd Street,” which opens Friday at St. Peter Cinema 5, is an independent docu-drama looking back at that time.
Interviews with family members give a firsthand perspective of the incidents they can’t quite explain. Actors take the audience back to the scene of the events, providing a creepy look at what it felt like to be surrounded by ghosts.
“Any of these events could be explained away,” said Jon of St. Paul. “But it’s the sheer number of things that happened.”
Conrad and Gerry Hyers, Jon’s parents, and Dean and Lauri Hyers, Jon’s brother and sister, all experienced things they can’t explain, he said. Thumping noises as loud as a piano tipping over, electricity going out one room at a time with no fuse blown, doors unlocking seemingly by themselves, and the furnace door repeatedly being found open, even spilling fire into the basement room — all of these incidents were reported by members of the family.
But no one ever saw a ghost. Not in human form, anyway.
“I saw one thing,” said Jon, who attended Gustavus Adolphus College. “A cloud of smoke appeared between myself and the bathroom mirror. It was a bright and glowing cloud.”
The boys were scared. Lauri was terrified. And Conrad and Gerry had no explanations to comfort their children. The owners of the house were out of town and couldn’t be reached to ask questions about the house. (As the Hyers learned later, the owners had also experienced strange occurrences. They heard the front door open and someone walk in and up to the second floor. Yet, no one was found.)
The Hyers had so many questions, with the unknown history of the house at the top of the list. Had someone died there? Did a tragedy occur inside the basement where many of the incidents seemed to occur?
Maybe. Conrad, former religion professor at Gustavus, did some research at the historical society, where a historian also was working on researching haunted places. Although no court records or newspaper articles were found to confirm the information, the historian said either the owner or the builder of the home may have been murdered there.
Perhaps the ghost of either the murderer or the victim or both had somehow become trapped in the home.
In nine months, the family moved out, relieved to never have learned the answer to that question. Dean had even been keeping a calendar, crossing out every day until they could finally get away from that house.
Last year, though, Jon set out to try and find out again why the North 3rd Street house may have been haunted. His search in the historical society’s archives came up with little information about the home built in the late 1850s. The house’s abstract also was vague.
He was left only to guess at who or what has a presence there. His film suggests two ghosts haunt the old house: the murderer and his victim.
Jon and his mom believe their experiences were supernatural. The other family members aren’t sure. Logical thinking tells them there are no such things as ghosts. Their memories suggest otherwise.
As word about the film has circulated St. Peter, people have driven down North 3rd Street and guessed at which house may be the haunted former home of the Hyers. To protect the identity of the owners, he’s not telling.
“We’re keeping it cryptic,” he said, much like the ghosts, themselves.
A fuse had blown, or so Jon Hyers thought.
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Wayne Gersch, 82, of Saint James, MN, died September 19, 2021, at Good Samaritan Society-The Village in Mountain Lake, MN. Visitation at First Lutheran Church, St. James on Friday, September 24, 2021, 5-7pm and Saturday 9:30-10:30am at church. Service at First Lutheran Church, St. James, Sat…
Larry A. Duden, 74 of St. Peter, passed September 20, 2021 at Ecumen Prairie Hill. Memorial is 11:00am Friday (9/24/2021) at St. Peter Lutheran Church with visitation at 9:30am. Visit www.saintpeterfuneralhome.com for full obituary and livestream information.
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