The first thing you see as you approach Lydia Klingensmith‘s little Craftsman bungalow at East Fontanero and North Weber streets is the large wheels lining the fence.
Then, as you look closer, you see hundreds of concrete cylinders — core samples from construction projects — throughout the yard.
Lydia buried 900 to create her driveway and carve pathways in her backyard. Hundreds more create flower beds.
Look closer, and you start noticing all the art work — sculpture created from old farm machinery.
But there’s more to Lydia’s story than just her fascinating landscaping.
What you don’t see — Lydia’s ghost — is really intriguing.
Lydia says her house, which she bought in 1985, is haunted by the spirit of Emma Walker, the 93-year-old woman who owned it before her.
Could the little house on Fontanero and Weber streets be haunted? It seems to be and Lydia is OK with that.In fact, Lydia is convinced Emma Walker has been hanging around since her death in 1985, perhaps unable to rest in peace after a life filled with tragedies — her only child died young, she was three times a widow and she was raped by an intruder at age 90.
“She’s my ghost,” Lydia declared. “She hung around, definitely. The house was haunted for a while.”
How else to explain the mysterious things that went on, like an electric outlet that always had power?
“The rest of my house and the entire neighborhood would be dark, but I’d have lights in my basement,” Lydia said.
That’s not all.
“The washer would run by itself,” she said.
Then came the bombshell.
“Emma started coming to me in my dreams,” Lydia said, describing how Emma gave her details of her life.
Lydia said she confirmed it by researching Emma’s life, from her childhood in the gold fields of Cripple Creek, her marriages, her daughter’s death and her life in Colorado Springs where she showered her love on neighborhood children and was robbed and raped.
She is not troubled by Emma’s ethereal presence. She feels such a deep connection to the old woman.
“This was the house I wanted when I was a little girl,” she said, describing how she used to walk by and admire the place.
When Emma died, Lydia bought it, though it was overgrown and run down.
Strange things occurred from the start, Lydia said.
She thought it was odd when keys from her childhood collection opened locks in Emma’s house.
She learned Emma shared her love of parrots and had other things in common.
The spooky stuff started as Lydia began transforming the house and yard.
The landscaping certainly is different. In 1999, Lydia was robbed by an intruder who stole her car, wrecked it, her garage and fence.
When she started to repair the yard, she recalled seeing concrete cylinders — core samples from construction projects — used in Arizona for retaining walls.
She started collecting them and used them, by the hundreds, to fashion a driveway and to sculpt walking paths in her yard.
Then came the wheels and old farm machinery as art.
Lydia gave the interior of the house a makeover, too.
“I think Emma left once I’d painted everything,” she said, noting Emma’s never far away.
“I carry her driver’s license,” Lydia said. “She protects me.”