Are you hearing whispers in the night when you are alone? Is something knocking
about in the middle of the night? Did that watch you left on your nightstand disappear
and then reappear on the kitchen counter the next day? Are you seeing shadows move
in ways that they should not?
Our trained investigators are here to believe you.
Most importantly, we are here to solve the problem,
no matter what it takes.
:: 03.14.1314 ::
If one researches the most haunted places in Georgia, over and over a particular
mill comes up as being haunted. Yet strangely every entry is exactly the same. Even
the history of that particular property is nothing more than a cut and paste from
Wikipedia. The harder one looks, the more frustrating any attempt to verify paranormal
activity at the mill becomes. To date, not a single book, publication or Internet
site has a first hand investigation revealing paranormal activities.
Shocked by the lack of an actual published investigation backing up the claims of
the supernatural, the Georgia Society for the Paranormal Sciences contacted the current
owners of the mill property and they allowed GASPS to perform a two night investigation.
This is what happened.
Having been started between 1890 and 1905, the Du Pree Manufacturing Company Excelsior
Factory was created to produce exceptionally fine wood shavings, called “excelsior.”
In an age prior to foam stuffing, excelsior shavings were used as the padding in
mattresses, the stuffing in furniture, the insulation for purses and the stuffing
for teddy bears.
According to the historical records, this particular mill was created to support
a fabric mill to the south to create ladies’ purses and carpet bag suitcases.
Over the 90 life of the mill, at least five major structural enhancements occurred
expanding the tiny one room stoned structure into a sprawling, multi-leveled building.
Between its open and 1940, one direct death was attributed to excelsior mill activities
in the Atlanta area. In that particular case, a name named Hubert Neal became trapped
in the conveyors and torn apart and pounded to death within the facility. In all
likelihood, this was not the only death that occurred there but because Neal was
briefly left alive his body was transported to Grady Hospital and therefore made
the papers. Most deaths during that period were managed in house and therefore kept
off the books.
Post World War II, the mill saw a decrease in activity with the emergence of foam
padding. Excelsior at that time was used almost exclusively for padding material.
In 1977 , the last of the cloth mills in Atlanta closed. By that point, the excelsior
mills were already primarily being used for storage.
Picture of excelsior wood cutters.
The Du Pree Manufacturing Company Excelsior Factory has been home to several different
businesses since its days as an excelsior mill.
Even so, the basic super structure of the facility has remained unchanged.
In an interview with the current owners, it was revealed only one previous group
of “amateur paranormal investigators” have ever been allowed in the facility. As
a non-professional group, the results of their investigations were never published
and the actual results of the investigation were not known to the owners that authorized
This explains why substantial amounts of research on the haunting at the facility
revealed no tangible results.
Front parking lot facing the Sears Building.
Armed with this information, GASPS began its interviews of current employees (some
of which had been at the facility for over 20 years). The employees provided first
hand accounts of encounters with unexplained phenomena as well as second-hand stories
from previous employees. Examples of such events included:
A full bodied apparition in early 20th century work garments on the second floor
of the secondary building.
A full bodied apparition in shadow form moving from a doorway to the other side of
a room in the second floor of the secondary building.
A full bodied apparition running up an internal stairwell and closing a propped
open door in the secondary building.
An object seeming to dance with no apparent source.
Frequent shadowy seeming to move.
Unexplained scream s from the stairwell in the secondary building.
Sound of footsteps following individuals as well as phantom footsteps
An untraced source calling the manager’s name in the kitchen.
Uneasy feelings by numerous employees in certain areas of the facility.
Based on all of the submitted testimony, GASPS prepared an extensive two-day investigation
using the latest technology.
URBAN LEGENDS OF THE MASQUERADE- CORRECTING THE PUBLIC RECORD
In the case of the mill, the legends of hauntings are numerous but vague (and strangely
generic). Almost every report in the popular culture is a copy of a small previous
One web site claims:
The building has a history of fires, structural collapses, numerous accidental deaths
of young employees during its turn-of-the-century mill years, and whisperings of
a vampire that has long called the Masquerade its home.
The vast majority of the articles echo the following information:
The main report of a haunting at this location is that of seeing the apparition of
a tall, black man walking around inside the club. Who he is however is sadly unknown.
Also there are many claims from staff about how the very heavy music amplifiers are
turned upside down, [sic] sometimes on a nightly basis when no one is in the rooms
they are kept.
Other reports include footsteps from unidentified sources, cold spots and horrifying
screams coming from the back stairs. Could these screams be caused by the spirits
of several young girls, who all died in freak accidents in the mill? As well as the
various stories of deaths on the property, there have also been an unexplained fire
and several structural collapses, not to mention the outbreak of tuberculosis that
took the lives of several employees.
Aside from the impossible task of the redressing urban legends, GASPS research on
the allegations mentioned above are as follow:
The name- Most casual researchers will be unable to find any information on the
mill because most of the historic record is imprecise. Even though many sources
claim 1890 as the facility creation date, as of 1899, it was not on the Sanborn-Perris
Map Company’s maps. When the facility did appear in 1911 (no maps of this zone exists
between 1899 and 1911), the name of the facility was Du Pree Manufacturing Company
Excelsior Factory (according to the Sanborn-Perris Map Co). The incorporated name
was actually the Standard Excelsior Works according to three 1907 lawsuits (Atlanta
Georgian and News, Apr. 19, 1907). The name “Dupre excelsior mill” is a modern construct.
The address- Again in researching the facility, the current address of 695 North
Ave North East is useless prior to 1925 (The city agreed in 1925 to extend North
Avenue as part of the opening of Sears, Roebuck & Company's giant Atlanta retail
store). When the mill first appears on the Sanborn-Perris Map Company’s maps, Angier
avenue was the only road near it and that ran North-South. North avenue EAST ended
on the opposite side of the rail track and North Avenue west ended at Randolph.
Tuberculosis- As early as 1863, there were reports of Tuberculosis (or consumption
as it was called then) in Atlanta. After reviewing the records from that point
forward, there are no particular indications that the Mill has any higher rate of
infection than the general population. If any particular disease was named for a
high number of casualties at the mill, it would have been Spanish Influenza outbreak
of 1917 that killed 20% of the American population (7% of all Atlanta residents)
and is directly responsible for many of the mass graves at Oakland cemetery. In
fact, as of February 1919, it had killed 17,000 across the state. (The Atlanta Constitution,
Feb 2, 1919)
Freak Accidents- Since 1860, there have only been four major reported accidents
at the mill. In addition to the death of Neal in 1899 and the collapse of the backstairs
on 31 December 2001, two other no-life threatening injuries occurred in 1907. According
to the Atlanta Georgian and News, Apr. 19, 1907, as of that date there were two other
injuries at the plant. One suffered by William Donaldson after falling from a freight
car while engaging the break. The second accident occurred when Elbert Teal had
his left hand "mashed and bruised while oiling the track of a press used in bailing
As far as the stair collapse goes, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
January 1, 2002, it was reported as:
A stairway collapse at the Masquerade night spot on North Avenue near City Hall East
sent more than a dozen people to the hospital just before midnight Monday night.
Fire officials said that at least 14 or 15 people were injured but that none of the
injuries was more serious than a fractured ankle.
Not surprising for a building of its age.
No young women hurt- There also were no young girls working at the mill. Many of
the reports concerning young girl deaths seem to be confusion among the cotton mills
located to the south and the Du Pree Manufacturing Company Excelsior Factory. Almost
all the reported mill stories from 1868 until 1977 concerning mills are specifically
referring to the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, located in Cabbagetown to the south.
The Fulton Mills employed hundreds of workers to create cloth and paper bags.(FULTON
BAGS) The bulk of the Fulton workers were actually women and children. In contrast,
the Du Pree Manufacturing Company Excelsior Factory which supplied the Fulton Mills
with excelsior employed very few people and almost all would have had to be men.(Atlanta
Constitution, 29 September 1886)
One other possible source of confusion is the Excelsior Knitting mill in Union, South
Carolina. With similar names appearing in early 1900s Atlanta newspapers the association
is probable. (Sunny South, Jun. 17, 1899)
Vampires- Prior to the rise of Anne Rice and Lestat in the mid-1970s, the thought
of a vampire being seen in a hard rock club was beyond reason. Thanks to Rice and
the success of the White Wolf Vampire Masquerade games (and dozens of spin-offs)
the gothic/EMO culture that begs for attention would desperately like to think the
Masquerade to be the sort of place a vampire would frequent. Prior to it being a
restaurant, it was just an old mill building. Today, it is just an old mill building
with music. Absolutely no in-residence vampires. Of course, if there were, they
would be out of scope and we would refer them over to the Slayer for investigation.
Legends start- Prior to its conversion into the Masquerade in 1989, there are no
reports of any paranormal legends or stories indicating that the building was considering
as anything other than the “old mill” on North Avenue.
Sanborn-Perris Map 1911 of the mill
January 1979 photo of Excelsior Mill
:: 09.12.2010 :: The Masquerade Excelsior Mill Investigation