Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ghost Face in the Window - Carrollton, Alabama

If a window in the historic Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton, Alabama, really holds what legend says it does, it could be one of the most unusual historic sites in the nation.

The famous Face in the Window (also called the Ghost in the Window) is a strange face that can be seen in the glass of the window when viewed from the street below. From inside the courthouse, nothing can be seen. Science (and some historical researchers) say it can't be what it is purported to be, but the fact remains that the face is there.

Local legend holds that former slave named Henry Wells burned down the second Pickens County Courthouse not long after it was rebuilt following a torching by Union troops during the Civil War. It took two years to arrest Wells for the crime, but by 1868 he was in custody and had confessed to his role in the arson. Either due to an escape attempt or prior to his capture, he was supposely hiding in the attic of the newly completed third courthouse when lightning struck the window in question as he looked out into a storm. As the story goes, the combination of electricity, water and glass left a perfect photograph of the man on the window.

Scientists argue that this is not physically possible, but who can really say what the power of a massive bolt of lightning might be. In fact, there are several other instances of alleged lightning portrats, including one from another Alabama location during the same location.

Over time the Face in the Window has faded, but a close look still reveals a shape in the glass that has a distinct human-like appearance. Many have been prompted to remark that Henry Wells may still be staring from the window all these years later. The tale has become one of Alabama's most famous ghost stories and was featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham's popular book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.

To read the story and learn more about the Face in the Window, please visit

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