COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Looking for something spooky to do for Halloween? Columbus is full of places long rumored to be haunted. Plus, several area groups offer walking tours of haunted places sprinkled throughout the city. Even if you’re not a believer, you’ll love hearing about the rich history of Columbus’ most haunted spots.
Rumored to be one of the most haunted locations, the Ohio Statehouse boasts ghosts both inside and out. Visitors claim to have seen President Abraham Lincoln dancing with Kate Chase — the daughter of former Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase, whom Lincoln met on a visit to Columbus — as well as the weeping Lady in Grey. In Veteran’s Plaza outside, visitors say they have seen the ghosts of soldiers. Even if you don’t spot a ghost, Veteran’s Plaza is well worth the visit so you can read the letters from soldiers carved in the stone walls.
The Arena District may be a bustling stop for anyone looking for a night out on the town, but the grounds were once the location of a Native American Settlement and the old Ohio Penitentiary. Many gruesome things happened during the 150 years the pen was in operation including a horrific fire that killed 322 inmates. Today, it is said that many strange things continue to happen in the area.
Once the home of author and cartoonist James Thurber, this restored home and museum has been rumored to be the site of ghostly apparitions ever since Thurber himself lived there. Thurber discovered that prior to his time in the house, a man committed suicide inside its walls after learning that his wife had been unfaithful. Others say that the spirits of patients who died in a fire at the Ohio Lunatic Asylum in 1868 frequent the home, which is just down the street from where the asylum used to stand.
Built in 1928, the Ohio Theatre is said to be haunted by three ghosts, one of them a stagehand who died in the middle of a show decades ago. Rumor has it that he pulls pranks on the current stagehands and is seen by security guards late at night. The other ghosts are said to be a child and a lady. Both cause their fair share of strange noises in the historic landmark at night.
Theatres are believed to be popular venues for ghosts to frequent, so it’s no surprise that both the Ohio Theatre and the Palace Theatre have their own legends of hauntings. In the 1970s, a magician named Harry Blackstone Jr. performed a séance as part of his performance. Participants said that he summoned the ghost of a man who was murdered in the theater.
Now the site of one of the most popular breweries in Columbus, Elevator Brewing is said to be the place where Colonel Randolph Pritchard was murdered by his lover. Rumor has it that the clock in the front of the establishment stopped ticking at 10:05 every night, which some speculate is the time Pritchard was stabbed to death.
What was once known as The Jury Room, this bar was built upon the site of a Hopewell Indian burial mound. The establishment was once the place where out-of-town travelers would stay for court cases, hence the name The Jury Room. In the late 1850s a prostitute was arrested for murder after shooting a man trying to force his way into the building. Rumor has it that stove burners mysteriously turn on and patrons and employees alike say they have seen the ghost of a tall man in a white shirt.
Once the home of former Columbus Mayor Robert Jeffrey, visitors to the historic Bexley mansion report unexplained whistling on the second floor. One rumor has it that Jeffrey hung himself in the residence, but others aren’t so convinced. The building is now home to the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department. Former employees also say they have heard the whistling and that the copier would sometimes turn itself on.
The Old Governor’s Mansion has long been rumored to be the home of the ghost of an African American woman. In fact, during the building’s restoration, workers said she appeared to them to tell them she was happy about the work. Others have reported strange smells and apparitions, including claims that pictures seem to jump off the walls.
Once a military post, Fort Hayes is said to be haunted by the ghosts of several soldiers. Legend has it that one is the ghost of a soldier killed by cannon fire that was being fired in salute to President Lincoln’s funeral train as it passed through. Another is said to be the ghost of a World War II soldier who lurks around the Shot Tower. Others say they have seen soldiers eating in what was once the mess hall and the ghosts of patients in the old infirmary.