Haunted Huntington: William L. Grimes, D.D.S.

“I knew I had a ghost,” Dr. William L. Grimes, a dentist located in Huntington, said. “I knew there was something going on, but I didn’t ever expect to see anything.” 

Grimes has been practicing general dentistry in his 20th Street office since 1974, purchasing the duplex-style early 20th century home to set up shop in 1973.

The building was built in 1909 and was used as rental property. While Grimes said he’s unsure about most of the families who came and went through the home over the years, there’s one he knows all too well.

Grimes first began seeing the ghost of a young girl while renovating the building in preparation to open his dental practice.

“I was on a scaffold, and I felt an electric charge on my back and the stairwell got dark,” Grimes said. “I felt a tingle on my back and I turned around, and there she was just staring at me.”

While Grimes was startled at first, falling off the scaffold, down the stairwell he had been working in and running outside the building, he said the fear subsided when he came to terms that the ghost he’d seen was just a young girl.

“I saw her again and again, and finally I tried to communicate with her,” Grimes said. 

Because Grimes was unsure of how to verbally communicate with the ghost, he painted a picture depicting what he’d seen. 

Hanna Pennington

Eventually, he was ready to put the pieces together.

“There is a group called Huntington Paranormal Investigations, and they did a ton of research,” Grimes said. “They were the ones who uncovered the history of the building.”

With the help of Huntington Paranormal Investigations and more than 30 other investigators and mediums, the story of the girl haunting the halls of the office began to form a clearer picture.

“A mother and two daughters moved in here in the 1920s,” Grimes said. “They lived formerly in Ohio and were living in Huntington in hiding from the father, who was abusive.”

Grimes said the father found his family on Oct. 17, 1929, when he broke into the home and attacked the mother and youngest daughter, Lavina. She died ten days later on Oct. 29, 1929.

Although Lavina was 21 when she died, Grimes said he has seen her at all stages of life throughout the near 40 years of paranormal activity he has experienced.

“She chose when she wanted to present herself at what age; she’d present herself as a little girl sometimes, and a teenager at other times, but she was a very small girl to begin with,” Grimes said.

Upon further investigation, Grimes said, it was discovered that Lavina, who went by the nickname “Livy,” wasn’t the only ghost roaming the halls of the building.

Grimes said one investigation group found evidence of 15 individual ghosts, one of which was Lavina’s abusive father.

“The father, we could hear him stomping on the stairwell and on the landing, like he was reliving it time after time,” Grimes said. “It was like he was intimidating the mother and daughters. He was never found guilty and died without anyone knowing what he did.”

In 2012, the Travel Channel’s “The Dead Files” visited Grimes’s office to film the 23rd episode of their first season.

The paranormal medium with the show advised Grimes to rid the building of the father’s spirit, whom she said was ultimately causing the tension among the ghosts.

Grimes said he cleansed the entire building.

“They said it would feel different when he was gone,” Grimes said. “And it did.”

Afterward, the ghostly encounters began to decline, eventually stopping completely. 

In 2016, Grimes published a book, “Journey on a Stairwell,” detailing the encounters he’d had throughout the span of the paranormal activity as well as Lavina’s story.

The first sentence of the book is straight-forward and to the point: “They’re gone now.”

Grimes said people often ask how his ghosts are doing.

“I say, ‘read the first page of my book, and you’ll know,’” he said.

The book will be reprinted by Amazon in 2020, and Lavina’s story will continue to live on.

Grimes said he felt he owed it to the girl and her family to go public with their story, despite not having all the answers.

“Pieces of the story started to come together, but we still didn’t have it all and we still may not have it all,” Grimes said. 

The picture of Lavina that Grimes painted in the early stages of the haunting hangs in the office stairwell today in honor of the girl who once roamed the creaky halls of the building.

“I think the little girl wanted someone she could get the message to,” Grimes said. “She became a friend of mine.”

Hanna Pennington can be contacted at [email protected].