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Armstrong Browning Library Ghost and the Waving Statue of Pippa – Waco

Baylor University’s Armstrong Browning Library of Waco is an incredible research library/museum devoted to the lives and work of the husband and wife Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Some of the Browning's original works are kept in this library, as well as many different personal artifacts such as their jewelry, locks of their hair, their furniture, photos and letters, and much more. The Brownings were very devoted to each other and shared a great love. In fact, it is said that Elizabeth wrote the famous romantic poem (“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...”) in her “Sonnets from the Portuguese” for her husband.

There is a legend that Elizabeth haunts this building, her spirit is drawn there by the sentimental pull of the worldly possessions that belonged to her and her beloved husband, and by her passion for the written word and her lifelong work. People claim to have seen her walking in the library at night, usually in a long white formal gown that would have been popular in her period.

Most of the sightings seem to have taken place on the top floor (third floor) of the building, and some students have even said they have seen her figure peering out from the upper windows at them at night, or to have sometimes seen the light of a candle passing from room to room in the windows of the upper floor.

Another legend associated with the library centers around the statue out front. Many people assume that the statue is supposed to be Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but it's actually supposed to be the character Pippa, from Robert Browning's work “Pippa Passes.” She's standing in front on the building, with her arms down close to her sides. However, they say that on certain nights the shadow that she casts onto the library wall behind her will show her arms waving high above her head.

We wandered around the Baylor campus on foot for a while. We asked a few students we saw about the “statue with the shadow that moves it's arms at night” and every one of them knew exactly what we meant, and directed us to the library.

The building is unbelievable... the stained glass windows everywhere were just stunning. The Pippa statue was a little creepy, maybe because we knew about the legend, but also because it looks really lifelike! Inside the library it is really breathtaking. Words can't accurately describe it. It had huge, high-ceilings and tons of stained glass windows everywhere, as well as antique furnishings and burnished wood and inlaid floors.

The rooms on the main floor have many artifacts from the Brownings’ lives. Certain the sort of place where a ghost might feel right at home.

We decided to try to go up to the top floor, since that's where her ghost is supposedly seen most often. We got into an elevator and it wouldn't work. The door wouldn't close. So we had to find some stairs and go up that way. As we rounded a corner in the stairwell and looked up we got a shock––a HUMONGOUS vivid painting of a bloody severed head looked down at us. Um, kind of disconcerting.

When we got to the third floor, we didn't know what to look for as it was just a hallway with several closed, locked doors in it. As we were standing there wondering what to do, one of the doors suddenly opened and a lady came out. No, it wasn't Elizabeth's ghost, but a lady that worked in the library. She spoke to us for a few minutes and offered to show us the Elizabeth Barrett Browning salon, which we didn't even know existed. First she unlocked the door to the balcony where the ghost has supposedly been seen and let us look at it. Then she took us down the hall and unlocked a door to the EBB salon, which was one of the most amazing rooms I have ever laid eyes on. It held many of Elizabeth’s things––her writing desk, jewelry, furniture, paintings––it was just exquisite. This room was made just for Elizabeth. Could these be the windows where they see her wandering at night from outside?

We asked the lady if she had ever seen anything, but she said she hadn't. She did say that she gets very creeped out when she is up on the third floor alone in the evenings, though, she said she sometimes gets that kind of feeling that you get as if someone is watching you.

As we left the library, we couldn't tell if the statue was watching us in a rather knowing kind of way when we passed by, or maybe the colorful windows were looking down, but we did feel as if eyes were upon us.

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