Ten years ago this month, I wrote a story for Discover Ohio Magazine about 10 haunted places in Ohio. These are the sites I profiled. Have fun, ghost hunters.
Twin City Opera House (McConnelsville)
The stage floor of the Twin City Opera House (formerly known as The McConnelsville Opera House) used to have trap doors that led to an underground dressing room, allowing performers to leave the building unseen. Its tunnels linked to other places in the village, and were said to have helped conceal slaves who fled the South during the Civil War. They say one of the building’s ghosts is the spirit of Everitt Miller, who ushered there for more than 30 years. Known for his crisp white suits, he still apparently hovers over the aisles of his beloved hall. Dozens of people have reported seeing the “man in white.”
Lafayette Hotel (Marietta)
Another spirit that allegedly still likes to stick around is that of S. Durward Hoag, former owner of the Lafayette Hotel. Overlooking the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, the hotel is said to have a “phantom elevator” that ascends and descends on its own, a possessed light bulb in the Gun Room restaurant, and coffee cups with a mind of their own. Several employees admitted having paranormal experiences on the third floor.
Fulton County Historical Museum (Wauseon)
The Fulton County Historical Musuem was both a high school and hospital back in the day, and psychics like contacting its young ghost “Little Johnny White.” A past curator said that Johnny once removed all of the Christmas tree ornaments and lined them up on the floor, one by one. Several people who grew up in the area claimed to see the spirit of an elderly woman clad in Victorian garb glaring at them from an upstairs window. Even though the building doesn’t allow smoking or display fresh flowers, some visitors have reported pungent smells of fresh bouquets and pipe tobacco.
Wilson Hall, Ohio University (Athens)
Athens might be the most haunted place in Ohio. Its surrounding hills are peppered with family cemeteries, including Simms, Hanning, Cuckler, Higgins, and Zion, which are said to form a pentagon. According to pagan beliefs, a pentagon offers a protective force, the center of which is exempt from any paranormal activity. Wilson Hall in Ohio University’s West Green is supposedly the center of the pentagon.
Hammel House Inn (Waynesville)
Built atop a prehistoric Indian burial ground, Waynesville is “The Antiques Capital of the Midwest” and host of the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival. But the Hammel House Inn was more than just a friendly stagecoach stop. As legend has it, the innkeeper killed a young traveling salesman in 1823 while he slept and stole gold coins from his saddlebag. The victim’s body is believed to be buried on site, and some guests have claimed to see a wispy white figure lurking on the stairway, flicking the basement storeroom lights.
Memorial Hall (Dayton)
Memorial Hall is a Civil War monument that once housed the Dayton Philharmonic. More than 50 years ago, a stagehand fell into the orchestra pit and died. According to reports, he’s still lingering and has been linked to tales of cold bursts of air, flushing toilets, errant spotlights, and flickering stage lights.
Squire’s Castle (Cleveland)
A red light allegedly shines at Squire’s Castle in the North Chagrin Reservation. This mini castle was built by oil pioneer Feargus B. Squire at the turn of the 20th century. As the story goes, Squire’s wife developed a nasty bout of insomnia. One night during a bout of sleeplessness, she suffered a fatal fall on her way to the basement library. Even though the basement has been filled in, visitors have claimed to see the spirit of Squire’s wife gliding through the castle with a scarlet lantern.
Edison Birthplace Museum (Milan)
Built in 1841, the Edison Birthplace Museum has caused a few spine shivers for its unexplainable, unidentifiable noises. Thomas Edison’s father Samuel supposedly believed in ghosts and held a few séances there. Throughout the years, people have claimed to sense paranormal activity and hear spooky noises in the house.
Thurber House (Columbus)
Eerie noises weren’t considered strange at the Thurber House, where James Thurber grew up. Sounds of empty chairs scraping across the floor, books falling off shelves, and footsteps running up stairs were common occurrences. In 1912, Thurber reportedly saw the ghost of a previous male tenant who, upon learning of his wife’s infidelity, ran up the stairs and shot himself. Several families later moved out of the house to escape the apparition, but Thurber immortalized his encounter in The Night the Ghost Got In.