The Strange Case of Dr. Addison and the Crosswell Twins


Dr. Charles Addison disappeared In the spring of 1908. The noted botanist, amateur zoologist, and photographic portraitist, had been making a series of images of a young girl named Regina Crosswell. Regina’s twin sister, Lydia, had died in the winter, though the circumstances were unclear. Dr. Addison, however, became convinced that Lydia Crosswell had not entirely departed from our earthly plane.

Addison first photographed the Crosswell twins the previous fall when their father brought them to Addison’s studio. Addison made head-and-shoulders portraits of the girls. When Lydia Crosswell died the following January, Dr. Addison was summoned to the Crosswell estate to make a memorial portrait of Lydia in repose.

Several months later, Mr. Crosswell requested Addison make a portrait of the entire family. Apparently, Regina Crosswell had been unable to let go of her sister and claimed to still see her and play with her. Mr. Crosswell felt that if a new portrait was made it might help Regina to accept the family as it then existed, without her sister. The Crosswell family, including governess Katharine Rennick, came to Addison’s studio and had their portrait made. However, when developing the glass plate negative, Addison discovered one extra figure in the image. To his great disbelief the figure appeared to be that of Lydia Crosswell.

When shown the image, Mr. Crosswell accused Dr. Addison of being a charlatan, and promptly threw him off the property. This served only to intrigue Addison who sought to investigate and either prove or disprove the phenomenon. He arranged several meetings with Regina Crosswell to photograph her further at several locations including the estate, his studio, and the cemetery where Lydia was buried.

To his astonishment, each time Addison photographed young Regina Crosswell, the image of her sister appeared when the photographic plate was developed. Ever the scientist, Addison tried several technical means and experiments to discern the truth. One of those methods was stereo photography with gave a three-dimensional image. Addison reasoned that if the spirit was false, it would not have visual depth. After numerous images all showed Lydia’s image, Addison began to accept the presence of her spirit. He then began to question her demise.

Addison kept an occasional diary of his investigation, and it reveals a curious man searching for clues, motives, and suspecting several different individuals of foul play. The diary ends abruptly with an entry that indicates Addison made a discovery. But what he discovered remains a mystery as Addison disappeared and was never seen again.

We have re-created the studio of Dr. Charles Addison as it existed in 1908, based closely on the photographs we have uncovered. Hanging in this studio are all the known photographs Addison made of Regina Crosswell. The diary that Addison kept is displayed for those interested, as well as some of the actual furniture from the studio.