The Kavanagh House began as a story based on the Standrod House.
A prominent citizen of the time, Judge Drew William (DW) Standrod built a house on the west side of a western city in the “Chateauesque style.” The two-story, turreted castle cost around $12,000 to build in 1902, with 16 rooms and a stone exterior, which was quarried 25 miles away.
The Standrod family moved prominent in civic and cultural affairs. Mrs. Standrod, Emma Van Wormer, traced her family to the earliest Dutch settlers of Manhatten. She kept active in women’s clubs. Their daughter Elvira Campbell participated in school activities and led in her class. A younger son Drew W. Jr. later served in WW I, then became a prominent attorney before his death.
(I love that “Elvira” went by a name based on her middle name Campbell: Cammie. It led to the idea behind Parker’s name.)
Cammie died at 16, to the great distress of the family. Northwestern Ghosts and Hauntings reports: that Cammie “became involved with a young boy whom she fell in love with. Her father upon hearing of her relationship with this young man who was not of the same stature as his family, did not approve. Shortly afterward, the boy disappeared. It is unknown what happened to him. Cammie was distraught from the ordeal and locked herself in her room which was the turret room in the tower of the mansion. She had . . . for some time already been weakened by a kidney disease. Unfortunately, she caught a cold and in her weak and distraught state, succumbed to the illness and died on April 27, 1906.”
(This same site also mistakenly reports that her brother Drew died when he was young.)
Since her death, tales of hauntings grew through the years.
Northwestern Ghosts continues: “Various occupants and visitors to the mansion have one thing in common. As soon as they entered the mansion, they felt an eerie presence. Some say they suddenly felt ill. Many believe this is the spirit of Cammie Standrod still trapped in the mansion due to her untimely death. Some claim to have actually seen her apparition in the tower windows and on certain occasions lingering on the tower roof.”
One contributor to “Idaho Hauntings” wrote, “That story is true i Have seen a figure walk around the tower roof on certain nights i am going this next full moon to get photos if i am able my mother told me about it and we of course waited to see if she would show herself and sure enough.”
Northwestern Ghosts also adds: “Apparently, Cammie is not the only Standrod who refuses to leave the mansion. On a rare occasion, the apparition of an old man has been seen sitting on a chair on the side porch of the old mansion. And there have been reports of seeing a young boy dressed in turn of the century attire sitting in the dining room.”
My brother lived in the Standrod house with his small family as caretakers while attending ISU a few years back. He embellished on the haunted room story and also has told me of how part of the basement had been filled in. A stone arch rising above dirt indicated that once there was usable space beyond—probably not much more than a wine cellar. But why was it filled in? What secret was being erased?
He also mentioned the lofty “attic” space—accessed only by a small trap door. This led to the idea of a 3rd floor with secrets.
Finally, one New Year’s Eve, my brother hosted a murder mystery, which I wrote the script for. We filled the house with siblings, spouses, and our parents (My dad became the murder victim—he dramatized his death for nearly five minutes.)
My DH and I brought our friend from the Philippines, Morfeo, who stayed with us that winter. He told me about parquet floors. According to Morfeo, craftsmen often purposely laid a flaw in the wood designs in order to disorient, and thus trap, ghosts. I’m not sure why a ghost would notice such things as floors, let alone spend time trying to find their way through a patterned floor, but as long as they end up “trapped”, it works for me. And I built the plot of the story around that idea.
The Kavanagh House as a whole grew from the story of the Standrod House. The Kavanagh is much bigger (next time I’ll post a floor plan), but the family is the same size. And The Standrod House was built in Pocatello, aka, Gate City; whereas, The Kavanagh House is set in the steam-driven Gate City, one of the model cities of The Gilded Age.