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    Posted October 22, 2010 by
    Portsmouth, Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your town's ghost stories

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    Who Haunts Ye Olde Bier Garden?


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     ecotraveler captured images of the 'haunted' areas of the Bier Garden, a German restaurant where a friendly ghost is said to roam.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    This 1846 Portsmouth Courthouse above, still rests on the corner of  High and Court Streets in Portsmouth, Virginia where public executions were conducted in the old brick courtyard seen in photos 1 and 3.

    The entire block here was dedicated to punishing, imprisoning,  and executing "criminals" of every nationality and the old hitchin' post remains as well. Back in the day, curious onlookers packed a lunch and hitched their horses at the corner, to get a good close look at the murders on slow news days.

    Today, the courtyard and courthouse areas are transformed into a much happier place and it's now a  gallery for artists, children's activities, and tourists.

    Just a few doors down from the courthouse, on the site where the adjacent prison rested, sits a popular and unique restaurant in Olde Towne's colorful and infamous historic district.

    In 1963, Hannelore and Anton Osfolk entered the US as poor immigrants with a big dream. It took thirty four years for them to launch their dream, "Bier Garden," a German restaurant who's inspiration grew from "mom" being a great cook and poppa being "able to fix anything," he says. They serve all the yummy German fare and pets are often seen in the newer outdoor dining area of the Bier Garden, as seen in photos 6&7 above. The owners' daughter (seen left), stopped by to give a pat to this happy Golden while he enjoyed his day out on the Garden's patio with a few friends.

    If you're thinking October also equals Octoberfests which equals beer, this is the place for you. They serve over 300 beers here, from Ales to Lagers and all the seasonals.

    Their son and daughter joined them, and together this family grew Bier Garden right along with them into the thriving, ever busy restaurant  it is today.

    Russell Wetherbee in photo 2,  has worked as waiter and jack-of-all-trades at Bier Garden 12 of the last 13 years it's been open, and tells of a resident ghost who is well known to all the wait staff and the owners.

    Mom said, "Russ was mopping one day, and they heard a man say, 'Scuse me,' but no one else was there that day and the doors were all locked. He flips on lights for me, and gets upset  if I get upset. He seems to be protective of me but he has a great sense of humor."  Mom says he banters in a happy voice and is obviously a friendly ghost.  "Once a waitress spilled a tray of silverware and I got upset," says mom. "I yelled, and he yelled. And then he flipped the tray right back over. Our waitress, Misty, dropped a lemon and it rolled along the floor. So she jokingly said, 'get back here' and it rolled back along the floor to her."

    None of our guests have heard him, only the staff," she says, and only in the kitchen and dining rooms," (photos 4 and 5), "where the old prison stood. I believe in ghosts, and I'm afraid of them, but this guy is clearly looking out for me."

    "In Germany, where I'm from we have mean terrible ghosts called poltergeists, but this one is just friendly and a little mischievous. He seems to be very happy and content here. I feel he's a good guy," she says, though no one really knows who he is or why he haunts our old building.

    The area outside the original building, has been covered, heated, and transformed into a quaint and cozy outdoor dining spot. "He never comes out here," says mom. He stays in the old parts of the building - the dining rooms and kitchen where the former prison was.

    Mom says he hasn't been around lately, and she misses him. Perhaps the annual Ghost Tour and Halloween festivities of the next few weeks here will revive this old ghost and he'll finally show himself.

    Who is he? Is he someone who died in the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1855 here; a warden or prison worker, or a prisoner just happy to finally be free to roam the site, unencumbered by prison bars?

    Perhaps he's the old prison's cook, and is happy to be back in his element, joking and laughing with the staff.

    You decide!

    Please see: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-506186

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