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Historic Haunts in Downtown Columbus to Check Out this Fall

Spooky season is upon us and Downtown Columbus is the perfect destination for a walking tour of historical haunts scattered throughout the city. Book a guided walking tour through Columbus Ghost Tours, or make your own path with our comprehensive list of spooky sites to visit below.  

Thurber House, 77 Jefferson Ave. 

Built in 1873, Thurber House was named after James Thurber, a well-known writer and cartoonist.  Thurber called this house his home until 1917, but it was not all pleasant childhood memories. According to lore, a man, driven mad by a cheating spouse reportedly ran around the downstairs dining table before running upstairs and shooting himself in the head. Additionally, visiting writers have reported footsteps, shadowy figures, misbehaving electrical appliances and an incident when a writer’s dog suddenly became agitated, growling and barking at an apparently empty sofa. Whoever they are, the spirits are restless at Thurber House.

Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square 

The Statehouse houses several spirits, including a former employee Tom Bateman who worked as a clerk for the Ohio Senate. For decades he was so concerned about keeping lawmakers in order that some say he didn’t stop – even after he died!  Bateman, who retired in 1971, was a man of precise habits, arriving and leaving each day at the same time and taking the same route to and from his office. After his death in 1981, Statehouse employees report that each day at 5 p.m., when his ghost leaves his office in the senate chamber, lights flicker in its wake, moving down the hall, the stairs, across the rotunda and out the door.

Ohio Theater, 39 E. State St.

The Ohio Theatre is a performing arts facility with a rich history of entertaining audiences since 1928. This historic landmark is said to be haunted by a ghost named Charlie, who was the stage manager in the 1970’s. He allegedly plays pranks on stage hands, opens elevators for women and sometimes blows out lightbulbs. 

Kelton House, 586 E. Town St.

The Kelton House, built in 1852 by dry goods merchant Fernando Cortez Kelton, has been the residence of multiple generations of the Kelton family. Although the house acts as a museum and Underground Railroad teaching site, it is still home to more than a few Kelton’s. Dozens of oddities have been reported by staff and guests, many of whom had no idea they were reporting conversations with supposed staff members who did not exist. Fernando and Sophia’s son Oscar, who died in the Civil War, has been seen leaning on the wall of the carriage house smoking. Those who see Oscar usually assume he is a costumed actor – until they discover there are no programs that day. 

Elevator Brewery, 161 N High St.

On a wild, snowy night in February 1909, a woman came to the door of Elevator Brewery, at the time known as Bott Brothers Buffet, asking for Colonel Randolph Pritchard, a notorious womanizer who had “ruined” a good many young women around town. Colonel Pritchard stepped outside to speak to the woman, then staggered back into the bar where he collapsed and bled to death from a stab wound at 10:05 pm. When his companions rushed out into the snow, the mysterious woman was gone, leaving only the prints of her bare feet, rapidly covered by the heavy snowfall. The clock is said to have stopped at the moment he died, and visitors have seen it randomly stopped at this exact time for years. Both the Colonel and the woman said to have killed him have been spotted in the restaurant. Others say that mysterious footprints appear outside the restaurant wherever there is a fresh snowfall.

Snowden-Gray House, 530 E. Town St.

In the early 1900’s the Snowden-Gray House was owned by the Columbus Women’s Association, who rented the upstairs bedrooms to boarders. Caretaker Celinda Hatton was in the habit of walking through the house in her pink robe before retiring at night, checking doors and windows. Ms. Hatton may still feel responsible for her former home, as boarders sometimes spotted her walking the halls in her pink robe, adding a surprise “extra” to late-night goings-on.

Westin Great Southern Hotel, 310 S. High St.

This French styled hotel was built in 1897 in the heart of downtown. Many 6th floor guests often call the front desk with complaints of the orchestra being too loud upstairs. However, the 7th floor of this grand hotel is vacant. 

The Jury Room (Formerly Blind Lady Tavern) 22 E. Mound St.

The Jury Room, built in the 1830s, is the oldest bar and tavern in Columbus, a distinction that always brings with it a bit of a troubled past. The tavern was originally built to offer accommodations to those attending court cases in town. But it also served a brief stint as a brothel. In March 1859, a prostitute named Francis Miller was arrested for murdering an intoxicated man trying to enter the bordello. Francis was convicted of manslaughter and served eleven years in prison. The man Miller murdered is thought to be at least one of the spirits haunting the Jury Room. 

Ringside Café. 19 N. Pearl St. 

19 North Pearl Alley has been the site of a downtown political insiders’ tavern since it opened in 1897 as Board of Trade Saloon. After the saloon was destroyed in a fire in 1909, a new building designed by Columbus native Carl Howell, was constructed and the bar reopened in 1910 as the Chamber of Commerce Cafe & Rathskeller. This historic tavern has attracted many ghosts, one such spirit being the well-known bar owner Clem Amorose who died in 1993. Clem, who managed Ringside since the 1960’s, visits from beyond the grave and is often seen in the first booth where he used to sit and smoke cigars. 

Palace Theater 34 W. Broad St. 

Magician Harry Blackstone Jr. performed at the theater after its restoration in the 1970’s. He organized a séance in the lobby to contact one of his father’s friends but ended up getting the ghost of a man who was murdered in the theater. Participants of the séance described it as extremely frightening, with one participant describing spots of heavy, dark air on the second floor. 

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