Tag Archives: Cincinnati

Music Hath Charms to Soothe the Savage Beast

Do Spirits Haunt Cincinnati Music Hall ?

Cincinnati Music HallIf music can, indeed, calm the hearts of wild animals, might it not also calm the restless spirits of those who have died and wander the earth as ghosts? John Kachuba, author of Ghosthunting Ohio cannot think of any better place to find the answer to that question than at Cincinnati Music Hall.

Built in 1878, the redbrick Victorian Gothic structure rises majestically on the corner of 14th and Elm streets. Central Parkway runs parallel to the rear of the building now, but when Music Hall first opened its doors, that thoroughfare was actually the Miami Canal. Designed by a local architectural firm, the edifice is eccentric, with its garrets, turrets, gables, insets, nooks, broken surfaces and planes, and ornate rose window. Some witty Cincinnatians have dubbed the style “Sauerbraten Byzantine.”

The building is located upon the site where the tin-roofed wooden Sangerhalle once stood, a hall built by a German immigrant singing society, the Saengerbund, for its May Festivals. But there is also a more somber atmosphere associated with other former occupants of the site. The present Music Hall rests upon the foundations of the 1844 Orphan Asylum. Before that, it was the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum with its Pest House, a section for the indigent with contagious diseases. A potter’s field also occupied the site, the final resting place for suicides and strangers, the indigent and homeless of Cincinnati, as well as those who died in the Pest House. These unfortunates were buried without the benefit of coffins; they were simply bundled up and dropped into the earth. Over the years, there have been many renovations to Music Hall and human bones have often been unearthed during construction.

Cincinnati Music HallThe famous Cincinnati journalist Lafcadio Hearn wrote about one such discovery in the October 22, 1876, edition of the Cincinnati Commercial:

“This rich yellow soil, fat with the human flesh and bone and brain it has devoured, is being disemboweled by a hundred spades and forced to exhibit its ghastly secrets to the sun…you will behold small Golgothas—mingled with piles of skulls, loose vertebrae, fibulas, tibias and the great curving bones of the thigh…All are yellow, like the cannibal clay which denuded them of their fleshly masks…Bone after bone…is turned over with a scientific application of kicks…dirty fingers are poked into empty eyesockets…ribs crack in pitiful remonstrance to reckless feet; and tobacco juice is carelessly squirted among the decaying skulls…by night there come medical students to steal the poor skulls.”

Hearn reported that the dead began to make themselves known to the living just shortly after these macabre discoveries were made. Shadowy figures roamed the halls at night, and ghostly dancers were seen in the ballroom on the second floor. One exhibitor at a business fair in Music Hall saw a young, pale woman in old-fashioned clothing standing by his booth. As he approached her, he felt a sudden rush of cold air as the figure became transparent then disappeared. Hearn wrote: “The tall woman had been sepulchered under the yellow clay below the planking upon which he stood; and the worms had formed the wedding-rings of Death about her fingers half a century before.”

Half a dozen skeletons were unearthed by workers in 1927, placed in a cement crypt and reburied, only to be discovered again during a renovation in 1969. The bones were placed inside another concrete box and reburied—and uncovered in 1988 for the third time when the shaft for the concert hall’s freight elevator was deepened. It seems the dead at Music Hall simply cannot rest in peace. Pieces, yes, but peace? No.

When my wife, Mary, and I lived in the Cincinnati area, we attended several performances of various kinds at Music Hall, but that was before we had ever heard the ghost stories, and we had never been behind the scenes. We were lucky enough, however, on a recent Valentine’s Day, to have a tour of Music Hall led by Marie Gallagher, a volunteer there for 25 years. It was a public tour, and we were joined by approximately two dozen people who were interested in seeing the grand old building. We gathered in the Main Foyer, with its checkerboard marble floor and graceful columns.

Cincinnati Music HallMarie knew every nook and cranny of Music Hall and regaled us with tales and anecdotes about some of the famous people who had performed there—John Philip Sousa, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, Jascha Heifitz, Maria Callas, Andres Segovia, Luciano Pavarotti, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan; the list is endless.

The heart and soul of Music Hall is the 3,630-seat Springer Auditorium. Marie led us up into the gallery where we could look down at the burgundy colored seats and the stage. Even though larger than most concert halls, the acoustics in Springer Auditorium are said to be the best in the country, if not the world. Ed Vignale, Jr., Music Hall’s facilities engineer, told me in a later conversation that a person standing in the gallery of the empty auditorium could hear someone speaking from behind the stage as though he or she were only 20 feet away from the listener. Could it be that such perfect acoustics are the explanation for some of the ghostly sounds heard at Music Hall?

“I hear them when I’m on duty alone at night,” says Kitty Love, who has been part of the private police force at Music Hall for 21 years. “Footsteps, doors slamming, and music playing, and I know I was the only one in the building.”

Kitty has heard the footsteps and slamming doors in the stage area of Springer Auditorium and in other parts of the building’s south side, the side that was built over the cemetery.

As our tour group stood in the gallery of the auditorium, gazing out at the magnificent 1,500-pound crystal chandelier suspended from the dome ceiling and its Arthur Thompson oil painting, “Allegory of the Arts,” I thought of what Kitty had said and took a few pictures with my digital camera. (Later, when I download the images to my computer, I will find three beautiful but unexplainable orbs floating in the otherwise clear air above the gallery.)

Marie continued to lead us on the tour—the enormous backstage area with its vertiginous catwalks barely distinguishable in the darkness high above us, the massive workshop where stage sets and props are built, the costume room with its many rows of outfits of every description hung around and above us like an enormous dry cleaner, the dressing rooms that resembled high school locker rooms, and the more luxuriously appointed dressing rooms of the stars.

When the tour concluded back in the Main Foyer, Marie took us aside privately and brought us back into an office area. In this section was a freight elevator, the very elevator beneath which a small casket of bones from the old cemetery was uncovered.

“I haven’t seen or heard anything unusual in Music Hall and I don’t believe in ghosts,” said Marie, “but this is where a security guard said he heard strange music. He was so impressed by what he heard, he wrote it all down.”

She handed me a file folder containing a photocopy of security guard John G. Engst’s handwritten account of what he experienced on February 22, 1987. In it he tells how he was escorting three caterers from a party held in Music Hall’s Corbett Tower down to the first floor in the elevator. It was about 12:30 a.m. As they descended, the three women asked him if he heard music. He said he did not, but they asked him again when they reached the first floor and this time he said he had heard it. The women told John they had heard the same music when they went up to Corbett Tower a few hours earlier but didn’t think much of it then.

After the women loaded their truck and drove away, John went back to the elevator. The music, sounding something like a music box, continued to play a tune that John thought he recognized as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” John stopped the elevator at different levels to see if the music would still be audible. It was. He wrote, “It was as beautiful as ever, but I’m getting more bewildered.”

Author John Kachuba
Author John Kachuba

John checked all the areas outside the elevator at the various levels but could not find any source for the music. He was so frightened and awed by his experiences that he wrote, “For nearly two weeks I could not approach the elevator shaft on the first floor late at night without my whole body tingling.”

In the final analysis, however, the experience was an affirming, life-altering one for John Engst. He wrote: “The experience is now all positive and will be forever, I now believe. I pray more intensely, don’t fear death and am glad to have had this profound experience.”

Kitty Love has heard similar ghostly music at Music Hall but in different locations from the freight elevator. “You hear music playing somewhere late at night when you know no one is there, but when you get there, you find it coming from some other place. You go to that place and then you hear it coming from yet another place.”

Ed Vignale said a musical greeting card had been found at the bottom of the elevator shaft, but that didn’t convince Engst that there was a rational explanation for the music he heard. Maybe John is right. Those greeting cards don’t usually last very long nor do they play continuously. Once opened they play only a few seconds before they must be closed and reopened to play again. Could a card have been heard continuously for several hours? And what about the ethereal music Kitty heard in other parts of Music Hall? Are there ghosts roaming Music Hall?

Even though Ed Vignale said that he has never seen nor heard spirits in the 34 years he has worked at Music Hall, he admits that some people have told him of seeing men and women dressed in late-19th-century clothing walking through the halls of the building. Other people have said that sometimes an extra unknown “cast member” may appear in an operatic production or that unusual looking figures may appear among the audience.

“There is definitely something strange going on here,” Ed said. “In all the time I’ve worked here, I’ve only seen two mice and one rat in the building, very unusual for a building of this size and age.” Ed went on to say that during a 1967 production at Music Hall called wild Animal Cargo, two baby snakes, a python and boa constrictor, somehow disappeared and were never found. The show left town without them and Music Hall was left with a unique system of rodent extermination.

How long do those snakes live anyway? One can only hope that, if they are still alive, those creatures have long ago been tamed by the musical charms of Cincinnati Music Hall’s resident spirits.

Copyrights: Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Haunted Cemeteries

There are plenty of haunted cemeteries in and around Cincinnati, here are the ghost stories for three of them.

Hopewell Cemetery
6471 Camden College Corner Road, College Corner, OH 45003

Haunted Cemeteries
Hopewell Cemetery

This creepy cemetery in the middle of nowhere is reputed to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the southwestern part of Ohio. Through the years many strange stories have been told about this graveyard. Some of the more common and harmless ghost stories involve strange lights. People who visit at night will sometimes see what appears to be a light from a lantern bouncing along throughout the cemetery. Other reports simply involve a floating ball of light that weaves its way through the headstones.

Another somewhat harmless phenomenon involves voices that seem to come from all around the cemetery. These voices are so clear that the witnesses are certain there is someone else nearby. The strange thing, though, is that this place is so isolated there is almost no feasible way that someone could be way out in the middle of nowhere without a car. If anyone drove up, the car would be easy to see in the surrounding area.

Other stories about the cemetery are not quite so harmless. According to legend, if you visit this place at night, you will be plagued by bad luck. Another story says that if you leave your car and walk through the cemetery, when you return to your car there will be a surprise waiting for you inside. Unfortunately, anyone who has received this surprise refuses to reveal what it is, saying only that it startled them so much when they saw it that they almost ran their car off the road.

Millville Cemetery
2289 Millville Avenue, Hamilton, OH 45013

Millville Cemetery seems to be a hotbed of paranormal activity. Perhaps this activity is due to the clash between the spirits of the older graves and the new burials that happen every year. Perhaps the older spirits are concerned that they will be forgotten, so they make themselves known.

People will often see full apparitions in the cemetery. While the encounters most often happen at night, they have been known to happen at dawn or dusk or during cloudy or rainy days. Two apparitions are seen most often. The first one is an old man that people will see walking aimlessly around the cemetery. The old man will roam around for a while, seemingly looking for something and then will vanish. The second apparition is that of a young girl, who is seen standing near one of the trees near the front of the cemetery. She always stares out toward the field to the west of the cemetery. Visitors also talk of seeing strange balls of light that seem to float through the cemetery, and of feeling cold spots on warm days.

Price Hill Potter’s Field
4700 Guerley Road, Cincinnati, OH 45238

This cemetery is quite haunted. People will hear strange voices and sobbing coming from the grounds at night. When people walk through during the day or night, they feel that they are being followed or watched. Sometimes people will actually see ghostly figures, which vanish when they are approached.

Cincinnati Haunted Handbook
Cincinnati Haunted Handbook

Perhaps the spirits of all those unfortunate souls who are buried here are upset about the shabby condition of the cemetery or about having been buried in a potter’s field. The ghosts here always seem to give off an angry and menacing vibe.

Cemeteries are often haunted, as if the dead have a hard time leaving their physical bodies behind. Much of their world seems to consist of wandering aimlessly through cemeteries or repeating trivial gestures that they often did in life. While many of these actions may seem meaningless, we need to make sure that when the dead do have something important to say…we’re listening.

For more haunted cemeteries check out Cincinnati Haunted Handbook by Jeff and Michael Morris.

Cincinnati Prom Ghost

Blog by Keen intern Sarris Balcerzak based on a story from Cincinnati Haunted Handbook by Jeff and Michael Morris

Princeton Road and the Prom Ghost
Cincinnati Prom Ghost
Princeton Road

Ode to the Prom-day horror story…if we don’t have one ourselves, we know somebody who does. This story starts like you would expect: with a young woman excited to go to the school dance. She has her date and her dress, the two prom essentials, what could go wrong?

Well, for starters the weather was not cooperating. It was raining. Her date called to tell her he could no longer pick her up—but he would meet her there! It wasn’t an ideal situation for the young woman, but she decided to take him up on his offer and drive herself to the prom. She left her date waiting…because she never made it to the prom. A car hit her on the way, causing her to spin out of control. She died that night.

Now cars speeding down Princeton Road will encounter what appears to be a young hitchhiker girl dressed for the prom. This is where the story splits in two:

Some say the spirit of the girl walks Princeton warning passing drivers of the dangerous road ahead. Others say that the girl is indeed hitchhiking and goes as far as to get in the car, tell the driver where to go and then suddenly vanishes. But other cars who pass her by mysteriously get in a wreck.

Visiting: The best way to drive when attempting to encounter this phantom hitchhiker is

Cincinnati Haunted Handbook
Cincinnati Haunted Handbook

to begin your drive near the church on the western end of Princeton Road.  Drive east down Princeton Road past Rose Hill  Burial Park. According to the legends, the area just past the cemetery is where she was killed and where people encounter the apparition most frequently.

Warning: If you see a girl hitchhiking on the side of the road in her prom dress, it may be in your best interest to pick her up and take her wherever she wants to go. You would’t want to make her mad.

To discover other haunted locations in Cincinnati (including Eden Park, Kings Island, and St. Xavier Highschool) check out Cincinnati Haunted Handbook by Jeff and Michael Morris.

AHRT at Victory of Light Expo

Victory of Light Expo & Giveaway

Americas Haunted Road Trip will soon be headed for Victory of Light Expo, Cincinnati’s premier body, mind and spirit event – and with Thanksgiving just around the corner we are celebrating with a GIVEAWAY for all our fans. Scroll down for easy entry information.

Victory of Light Expo
AHRT Crew ready for Victory of Light

Since its inception in 1992, Victory of Light, has established itself as one of the largest and longest-running metaphysical conventions for the general public in the country.

Americas Haunted Road Trip will be joining over 250 vendors. We will bring our entire collection of haunted road trip guide books including our latest addition Ghosthunting Oregon.

About Ghosthunting Oregon:  Our latest book takes readers along a guided tour of some of the Beaver State’s most haunted historic locations.  Author Donna Stewart invites you to accompany her as she explores each site, investigating eerie rooms and dark corners.

About the author: Donna Stewart is a noted paranormal researcher, radio host, writer, and founder of the nonprofit Southern Oregon Project Hope.  With a lifelong interest in the paranormal, she has devoted more than 30 years to research, mentoring new investigators, and confounding the highly regarded paranormal research team Paranormal Studies and Investigations (PSI) of Oregon.  She also hosts the long-running BlogTalkRadio Show PSI-FI Radio.

Come and visit us at booth # 622. Meet some of our authors, take advantage of incredible deals and enter our raffle for a chance to win one of our many awesome prices.

Book signing schedule at Victory of Light Expo:

John Kachuba        Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Garett Merk             Saturday 02:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Jeff Morris                Saturday 02:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Garett Merk              Sunday noon – 2:00 p.m.
Jeff Morris                 Sunday noon – 2:00 p.m.

So join us November 22 & 23 at the Sharonville Convention Center for the 2014 Victory of Light Expo.

Practical Information:

Victory of Light Expo is held Saturday November 22nd through Sunday November 23rd daily from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Sharonville Convention Center. For more information check out the Victory of Light Expo website.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Haunted Cincinnati Zoo Story

Haunted Cincinnati Zoo Story

There is a haunted Cincinnati Zoo story out there and the ghost that haunts this location is that of a lion. That’s right – a ghost lion walks the paths at the zoo and will often watch passersby from the safety of the thick foliage that lines many of  the paths.

Haunted Cincinnati Zoo Story
Haunted Cincinnati Zoo

Witnesses claim to have been walking alone down a remote path and heard what sounded like the footfalls of a large lion behind them. Sometimes these witnesses have become so terrified that they broke into a run, hearing the sounds of the lion’s footsteps keeping up with their every step.  When they feel that the lion is about to strike, they turn to face their attacker only to see that there is nothing following them.

Other times, witnesses will see the glowing eyes of a lion looking out at them from the brush down a dark, out-of-the-way path.  These witnesses slowly walk the other way, hoping the lion doesn’t follow them.

Some History

The Cincinnati Zoo was the second one built in the Western Hemisphere, after the zoo in Philadelphia, and it contains the Western Hemisphere’s oldest standing zoo building, today’s reptile house.  From the time the zoo was built in 1875 until the present day, many animals lived and died there. This zoo also housed the world’s last passenger pigeon the world’s last Carolina Parakeet.  After these animals died at the zoo, they were considered extinct.

Visiting and checking out the Haunted Cincinnati Zoo Story

The zoo is open to the public, of course, but it charges an admission fee, whether you’re there to see the animals or to research the ghost stories. The zoo closes at six p.m. during the spring and summer and at five p.m. during fall and winter.  If you want the added spookiness of being there at night, come to the annual Festival of Lights, which is held every November and December. At this event, the zoo is open until nine p.m. and so the place is open well past dark.  The zoo also holds an event on weekends in October called “Hallzooween” where the zoo is decorated for the Halloween season.  This event is only open until five p.m., however, so you will have to leave the park before dark.

If you hope to find the ghost lion, linger on the more remote paths that weave through thick foliage. If you see the lion, it’s all right to get scared. After all, this is a zoo, and it is entirely possible that the lion may not disappear before it attacks.

For more spooky stories such as the haunted Cincinnati Zoo story check out Jeff & Michael Morris’ book Cincinnati Haunted Handbook.

 

 

Western Hills Country Club Ghost Story

Western Hills Country Club Ghost Story
Western Hills Country Club CC Jeff & Michael Morris

Western Hills Country Club Ghost Story is one of many ghost stories detailed by Jeff and Michael Morris in their Book Cincinnati Haunted Handbook. The brothers guide the readers to haunted roads and bridges, to cemeteries and museums, to schools, theaters and restaurants, stores, and any other place where people have reported paranormal experiences.

There are a variety of small hauntings that occur in this building. Sometimes glasses in the bar area will fall from where they are being stored all by themselves. People will see ghostly figures in early twentieth century dress walking throughout the building.

When approached, the figures fade away. Sometimes at night, when all the customers have left, people will see a man dressed as an employee setting the tables in the dining room. When approached, he vanishes.

Cincinnati Haunted Handbook
Cincinnati Haunted Handbook

If he is not approached, he finishes setting the tables and then disappears into the back of the building. Talk about a dedicated employee! Forget about calling in sick, these employees show up to work when they’re dead!

The history of the Western Hills Country Club

This country club was founded in 1912 and has since become a landmark in Western Hills. It is one of the oldest private clubs in Cincinnati and includes dining rooms, a bar, and a golf course. The neighborhood around the country club, especially on Neeb Road, includes some of the largest and most beautiful houses in the city. Most were built during the 1920s, and their original owners belonged to the Western Hills Country Club.

How to get there

Take I-75 north to exit 2B, Harrison Avenue, on the left side of the highway. Take the

Western Hills Viaduct and follow the signs that lead to Queen City Avenue. Follow Queen City Avenue to the left past the BP and go up the hill about a mile and a half until you get to the traffic light at Sunset Avenue. Turn left onto Sunset Avenue.

After about a half mile, turn right onto Guerley Road. At the top of the hill, Guerley changes its name to Cleves-Warsaw. Continue to follow this road straight for another two miles. The country club and golf course will be on your right.

Cincinnati Hauntings

Paranormal activity isn’t easy to find or witness if you don’t know where to look. Even Cinci Haunted Handbook COVER lo-reswhen you do know of a place with a  spooky past, finding a ghost comes down to luck most times, which leaves people skeptical. However, when a story is passed down, being told countless times, something paranormal has to be going on.

Below are several places in Cincinnati said to be haunted, all (+97 more) are featured in the book Cincinnati Haunted Handbook, by Jeff Morris and Garret Merk.

Cincinnati Museum Center: In the early 1990s, the center was experiencing theft of computers. A single security guard name Shirley was hired to catch the thieves. One night, she found the thieves on the fourth floor and was shot dead. Her body was later discovered in Northern Kentucky. She is said to still roam the halls of the Union Terminal. Many of the housekeepers will not walk alone after closing, and the sounds of locking doors and footsteops can be heard when few people are around. Also, a ghostly pilot is often seen in the museum in the airplane from World War II. Occasionally, you can hear people crying and welcoming back soldiers on the tracks.

Cincinnati Museum of Art: Security guards have often reported seeing a 7-foot tall specter with no human features rise up from a mummy sarcophagus and go straight through the ceiling. The specter is seen coming through the ceiling whenever entering a room. When guards would take a nap in the storage room, they would wake up to a glowing face hovering inches away from them. Some guards claim that the specter blocks their way as they attempt to maneuver around the storage room. Many security guards have quit, reporting the same story.

Eden Park: The apparition of a woman wearing a black dress has been seen standing by the gazebo near the park’s lake. The woman is thought to be Imogene, the wife of famous Cincinnati bootlegger George Remus. Remus killed his wife in Eden Park after she filed for divorce.