A Haunting In Montana, Part 1: The Gibson House

This is Part 1 of our story on the mysterious Gibson House.

If you’re a fan of ghost tales and movies, you may find this next filming location fascinating. The location is the Gibson House in Great Falls, Montana. For their new television show “Dead Files,” The Travel Channel conducts a series of investigations to find out whether the Gibson House (and several other locations in town) is indeed haunted.

History Of The Gibson House

Located on “Millionaires Row” in Great Falls, a neighborhood   of stately Victorian, Craftsman, Neoclassical and Greek Revival homes, the Gibson House was the home of Paris Gibson, Great Falls founder and first mayor.

Image courtesy of Kelly Parks.

Image courtesy of Kelly Parks.

The house was originally built for Theodore Gibson, Paris Gibson’s son, in 1890. After his wife Valeria passed away, Paris moved into the mansion in 1900 and lived there until his death in 1920. He died upstairs in the front room. Soon after the 1929 stock market crash, the Gibson House became a nine-room boarding house and many of the original features of the house were changed as a result.

Kelly Parks & The Restoration

In 2009, a local realtor named Kelly Parks bought the original Paris Gibson mansion after she learned about its history. At the time she bought the house in June 2009, not too many people knew its true identity because the address had been changed and the outside of the house had been covered in stucco.

It’s a dream come true for Parks when she finally owns the city founder’s former home. “I love historic houses. Everywhere I go, I always go and tour historic houses. I tour everything: houses, businesses, old buildings,” said Parks.

Last year, on May 13, 2010, Parks received a Historic Preservation Award from the city of Great Falls for her work in restoring the Gibson House. The historic preservation officer Ellen Sievert said, “[The Gibson House] was ugly. It was rundown and shabby, and I know this has been a tough project for [Parks], and I know she isn’t quite finished but it’s going to be beautiful.”

Once the house is restored, it will become Parks’ private residence. While trying to preserve much of the original features of the house, Parks also adds a few special touches to accommodate her family’s needs. “The only thing I changed was instead of four bedrooms on the fourth floor, I converted one to my master suite and a very large laundry room for my family,” shared Parks.

Parks said she will open the Gibson House to the public for occasional tours when all the renovation is finished. There may even be a few “opulent and grand parties like those featured in the society pages in the 1890’s.” Meanwhile, she received a special gift from Paris Gibson’s great great great grandson Bill Dakin. Paris’s wardrobe trunk is now back at the Gibson House. In return, Parks presented the key to the house to Dakin so he could make himself at home.

“Dead Files” To Investigate

This year, there is even more excitement at the Gibson House. The Travel Channel has been in Great Falls filming the new series “Dead Files.” A crew came to the house to investigate whether rumors of ghostly hauntings are true.

The shooting wrapped up a few weeks ago and there is much secrecy surrounding the paranormal investigation. The Gibson House is known to be one of the most haunted houses in Great Falls, and there is even some controversy on the death of Paris Gibson’s wife,    Valeria.

With the filming being over, Parks is happy to get back to her normal schedule in her own home. “It’s been exhausting, but they’re great. Fantastic,” Parks said. “I mean, the crew was really, I mean really, really nice, went over the top. I didn’t know what to expect exactly, [because] I’ve not actually had my house turned into a movie set. I’m really looking forward to it and I think it’s cool, you know, for Great Falls.”

“Dead Files” experts include a psychic named Amy who can communicate with dead people, and a retired New York City Police homicide detective, Steve DiShavi. DiShavi is a former consultant for “NYPD Blue.”

I Am Number Four

The Gibson House is at the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Fourth Street. Its official street address is 400 4th Ave. N.

In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cultures, number four (4) is considered an unlucky number because it sounds like the word “death” when spoken.

Is the Gibson House haunted? Are there ghosts residing among the living at this historical Victorian mansion? Each “Dead Files” episode ends with a “big reveal,” in which the experts share their discovery. That means we will have to wait until September when Episode Seven of “Dead Files” premieres to find out.

Interview With Kelly Parks

What to do until September? Keep a look-out for our next article - Part 2 of A Haunting in Montana: An Interview With Kelly Parks. We will ask Ms. Parks to tell us her experience working with The Travel Channel film crew and what it was like having her house turned into a filming location. We may even have a few insights on whether she’s had any ghostly encounters in her new home.

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Filmed In Montana

For more information on filming in Montana’s quirky and beautiful communities and landscapes, visit the Montana Film Office website  at http://www.montanafilm.com.