Curator Melissa Wolfe talks about the inspiration we can all take away from the Columbus Museum of Arts newest exhibition showcasing the work of home town hero George Bellows. George Bellows and the American Experience through January 4, 2014. This exhibition follows on the heels of a major retrospective of the artist organized by the [...]
In search of Ohio ghosts
The Kelton House located on East Town Street in downtown Columbus is known for its historical significance, but it’s also recognized for its paranormal activity. The Junior League of Columbus keeps the house as a museum and hosts community events.
Kelton House Director, Georgeanne Reuter, says one of the most familiar stories involves a lady dressed in 19th century clothing who some believe is either Grace or Sophia Kelton.
One of the staff who worked here about ten years ago the first day she was in charge of closing the house herself she went around and made sure all the doors were locked and the lights were off and she knew that there was nobody in the house. So she got in her car and drove to the bottom of the driveway and looked up at this window and she said she saw a woman standing in the window. At first she thought she’d left somebody in the house but then she rethought her actions, her steps and she knew there was nobody there.
Later Reuter says the employee, who was fairly new, saw a portrait of Sophia Kelton and said that was who she saw in the window. While Reuter says the staff member continued to work at the house others have quit.
Reuter herself, has either volunteered or worked at the Kelton House since 1982, says she’s never actually seen a ghost.
I actually don’t want to see a ghost. Does it kind of scare you a little bit? Well, I think when you’re in a house all the time I think it’s the kind of thing that you would be a little less comfortable working in a place that’s haunted. So I’ve said actually out loud that I don’t want to see a ghost.
While the Kelton House offered a good number of ghost stories, I wanted to experience something first hand. So I traveled to Granville.
The Buxton was built in 1812 and is one of the longest running inns in the state. Its guest list includes famous names such as Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford and Harriet Beecher Stowe. But an innkeeper who kept the place up for several decades beginning in the 1930s has become legendary. Bonnie Bounell lived at the inn from 1934 to 1960 and some people report she’s still around.
Upon my arrival I was taken to room 9, the same room where a lady in blue is known to appear. I was given a tour by current innkeeper Audrey Orr.
This room was Mrs. Bounell’s suite. She had a three room suite. And she is the lady in blue that people talk about. So maybe you’ll get a visitor.
While Audrey says she’s never seen the lady in blue but she has sensed her presence.
What I have experienced here is her perfume, gardenia perfume. And the office is right across the hall and especially at night if I was working late I would get this sweet smelling perfume. First I couldn’t identify it and a local person said that she used to have her perfume sent in from France and it was gardenia.
Audrey also showed me the tavern which is located beneath the inn. She says people have reported seeing a young boy there.
One guest was seated having dinner and she noticed a little boy sitting over against the wall then he disappeared.
Later that evening I ventured back to the tavern to have dinner and to quiz the bartender about ghosts. Rob Cottrill has worked at the Buxton for about four years.
We have a service hallway from our upstairs that leads to our pantry. And I was sitting on the steps and you can’t come down the step quietly. I mean, the building’s 200 years old, you can’t just sneak down the steps so I heard somebody, you know, at a full trot coming down the steps, I just jumped up and got out of the way. Nobody’s on the steps behind me and I thought how weird.
I also visited with innkeeper Orville Orr who tells of a number of unexplained happenings. He recalls one time he actually felt uneasy at the Buxton.
It was one o’clock in the morning; there were no guests in the building. And so I did what I still do is lock these doors at night and I was down at the foot of the stairs right here and I was going outside, there are no doorknobs on the outside so I know how to pull the door close and lock the lock. And I just paused and that door opened and closed, someone walked across the porch, opened that door and went down the back steps. Did you actually see someone walking or you just heard it? No, I heard it. And I said you can have it and I was out the door. And I realized I couldn’t do that and leave the building that way so I came back and went through.
I returned to my room and at about 11:00 p.m. I recorded my last audio notes.
It’s five after eleven, I’m in my room. I’ve got the television on because now I am so freaked out that I am actually scared to go to sleep after all the stories that I heard about the inn and this particular room. Now I’m afraid I’m going to wake up to a ghost cat walking on my bed. I heard a story tonight about a particular guest who stayed in this room and she went to sleep and woke up to something crawling across the bed and ended up sitting on her pillow and it turned out to be what she thought was a cat. So not only do I have to worry about a human ghost, now I’m worried about a cat ghost and I don’t know which I would be more afraid to encounter probably a human ghost, I think I could handle a cat ghost better.
Later I heard what sounded like something moving around in the front room of my suite. I sat frozen on the bed. And then a knocking noise came from next door where Bonnie Bounell, the lady in blue, was known to entertain guests.
I lay awake until 5:30 the next morning. I never saw a cat nor a lady in blue.