Columbus Landmarks Halloween Lantern Walking Tour

Kelton House

I love ghost stories. And history. And (obvi) Columbus. While embarking on the Halloween Lantern Walking Tour hosted by Columbus Landmarks on Tuesday night, I was unduly pumped.

“This is not just about ghost stories,” said our tour guide and author/historian/teacher/ghost whisperer Doreen Uhas-Sauer. “This is a social history of Town Street.” 

Doreen has given historic tours of Columbus for the past 35 years. She knows everything. Our all-ages group of about 30 met at the Topiary Park. Armed with lanterns and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, we walked half a block east and more than a century back in time, when the Town-Franklin area was the city’s first real suburb.

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Our first stop was The Heritage Museum at the headquarters of Kappa Kappa Gamma. We entered the grand Italianate mansion and saw a bunch of vintage key-shaped pins framed on the wall. 

I have one of those keys. 

was a member of Kappa at Washington and Lee. Naturally, this made me feel twice as likely to see a ghost than anyone else on the tour. We wandered through the parlor into an ornate sitting room with dramatic Victorian furnishings and an 1887 Weber piano. Kappa’s archivist and curator Kylie Smith told colorful tales about the spirits who loom at the property. The first was David Gray.

I saw him in concert. 

Ok, it was a different David Gray. BUT STILL. I was practically guaranteed to see a ghost at this point. We learned about the art of bird taxidermy, which young women practiced back then instead of pinning cat photos on Pinterest or Instagramming their meatloaf. They also created wreaths out of their hairKind of makes my no-sew fleece blankets seem lame.

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We paused to admire a portrait of Celinda Hatton, who taught art at Columbus School for Girls. She died in the home’s morning room. Her favorite color was pink, and many have reported visions of a “Pink Lady” floating through the hallways.

I went to CSG! The coincidences, however far-fetched, were becoming overwhelming. Bring it on, Pinkie. 

Next at the Kelton House, we learned of haunted dolls and tragic accidents. We tiptoed through the alley past a haunted house to the Columbus Performing Arts Center (formerly Players Theatre), where Doreen told us about mischievous 1902 Halloween rituals involving stolen corn and door-stopping cabbage.

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I have dolls. I eat corn. This is crazy. Show me the ghost!

Alas, I didn’t see any apparitions, but I went home very informed and enjoyably spooked. If you’d like to try engaging with the afterlife, Columbus Landmarks still has a few ghost tours between now and November 2.