If you spend a lot of time at Bayne Library you may be lucky enough to meet Amanda Balph. She is not only the former owner of this Victorian home turned library, but she is also said to be its resident spirit.
Mrs. Balph was born in 1840 to Andrew and Mary Anne Bayne. Andrew Bayne owned a large property in the northeast corner of Bellevue. Upon her marriage in 1870, Bayne gave his daughter some of the land upon which she grew up to build her home. Her husband, James Madison Balph, was an architect and he designed and built their dream home. The couple moved into the refined three-story Victorian mansion in 1875. James Balph died in 1899 leaving Amanda alone in the home for the remainder of her life. She lived a quiet life, enjoying her book collection and the lovely property with it’s host of elm trees.
When she died in 1912, Mrs. Balph deeded over her home and the acreage surrounding it to the Borough of Bellevue. The transfer took place with four stipulations: the four acre plot would not be developed, her home would be used a public library, the streets bounding the property would be renamed Balph and Teece, and the elm trees on the property would not be removed. The Borough has honored Mrs. Balph’s requests with one exception, they were not able to save the elm trees. Throughout the last century the trees succumbed to Dutch Elm disease and had to be removed. The last surviving tree, known as the Lone Sentinel, was removed in 1998 when it was determined that it too could not be saved. Many reported that during this time period Mrs. Balph’s ghost became more active.
Despite her restlessness about the trees, Mrs. Balph is a friendly, mischievous spirit. She enjoys turning on lights, playing with computers and equipment, and hiding books, keys, and other items. Staff often hear her footsteps as she walks around the second floor and neighbors report seeing a woman looking out the windows of Mrs. Balph’s former bedroom. Sharon Helfrich, a former Director of the Library, recounts a time that a new DVD player stopped working while 100 people waited to watch a film in the Park. She then noticed that a light was on upstairs in the attic. She went up to turn out the light, pleading with Mrs. Balph to make the DVD player work. In exchange, she wouldn’t scold the ghost for turning on the light. Apparently, the bargain worked; when Mrs. Helfrich returned to the movie, the DVD player was working again. Read more stories about Mrs. Balph’s presence at the Library, “Victorian Visitor: Is the lady of the house now the lady of the library?”
Author, Jeff Belanger, featured the Library in his book, The World’s Most Haunted Places