Spooky Town: History, mystery and hauntings in Marietta

As the oldest settlement in the Northwest Territory, the city of Marietta has had plenty of time to build up a healthy cache of restless spirits. Many area buildings come with a folklore of ghostly tales to match their sometimes murderous, often mysterious histories, and there is no shortage of area residents and visitors who report having strange experience in them.

Situated on a hill overlooking Harmar, the Anchorage is a favorite haunt of the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters.

“We’ve got so many voices on recorders. So many photos we cannot explain,” said Tom Moore, co-founder of the group.

Founded in 2000 by Moore and his brother, the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters have visited dozens of supposedly haunted residences and businesses in the area, but it is the Anchorage where they choose to host their ghost hunts every Friday in October.

People have reported any number of strange occurrences during these hunts, said Moore.

“People will get their hair played with. They will see shadow figures. A lady saw a black cat inside a couple of weeks ago. We actually had a group in there about a month ago that started voice capturing a voice saying names,” said Moore.

The town’s two Putnam Street theaters also boast some spooky tales.

The MOV Ghost Hunters have an audio recording taken while the Peoples Bank Theatre (formerly the Colony Theatre) was without electricity during renovation.

“Someone with tap shoes is on the recording. It’s a definite sound of someone walking right out on the stage with tap shoes,” he said.

Marietta resident Leslie McGoron has been involved in Mid-Ohio Valley Theatre productions for around 40 years and has had several unexplainable experiences in that building.

“My husband and I were working on sets late one night. It was around midnight. We were standing in back getting ready to cut a piece of wood when I heard this jangling sound. It sounded like someone dragging chains or shaking a big set of keys,” recalled McGoron.

Most recently McGoron and her grandson were visiting the theater and heard a man’s voice distinctly proclaim “Oh. They are just hanging out.”

Assuming a fellow MOVP actor was in the building, McGoron went through the building yelling and looking for the speaker. But she and her grandson were alone, she said.

The third flood of the Lafayette Hotel also comes complete with its own repository of strange occurrences.

Though hotel reservations manager Lacey Lanning has never had her own strange experience, several guests have reported them to her.

“People say that their things have been moved while no one was in the room or items appearing in the room that weren’t there before. I had one woman who said she felt someone sit down beside her in the bed, but no one was there,” said Lanning.

Guests sharing their tales vary from some who know of the hotel’s haunted tales and guests who apparently had no idea the Lafayette was supposedly haunted, added Lanning.

“Mr. (Durward) Hoag, the old owner of the hotel, is supposedly the one who haunts it. He lived in the third floor and that’s where most of the activity happens,” she said.

In fact, years ago a mirror had to be moved from the third floor to the lobby because employees were so frightened by specters they saw in the mirror that they were refusing to set foot on the third floor.

One Marietta building not as well known for its mysterious nighttime happenings is the Campus Martius Museum.

Though not a true believer in spirits, museum education program director Glenna Hoff admits that she and fellow staffers have experienced some unexplainable things in the building.

“We hear noises every once in a while. We’ve been upstairs in the office when no one else was there and we’ve heard footsteps across the lobby,” she said.

The elevator also produces strange noises and often seems to open, close, and change floors of its own volition, she said.

“The building itself is not that old. The early 1900s. But it was built on the sight of the Campus Martius stockades,” she said.

The original Campus Martius fortification was built by Marietta’s founding settlers soon after their arrival in 1788.

Also less well-known for its reported hauntings is Bertram Law Office on Third Street.

The building was built in the 1910s and was the first Kroger in Marietta, said current owner Paul Bertram III.

“In the basement they had where the meats would be brought in and cut up. They would process the meat in the basement and bring it back up,” he said.

The building later became the state liquor store and some of the downstairs windows still have the bars to show for it.

However, it is the building’s attic which is likely haunted, said Bertram.

“One evening while I was grading papers and I was there alone late, the computers in one office came on all by themselves. Everything just booted up,” he said.

Bertram’s family has owned the family since the early 1970s and several employees and family members have reported hearing footsteps or noticing the building’s large hand-crank service elevator move on its own, he said.

Certainly the most gruesome haunted tale is attributed to the Levee House, where according to owner Harley Noland, a bloody patricide occurred.

“My building was a brothel at one point. A gentleman from a very respectable family had been visiting the brothel and the son was ashamed of this,” said Noland, of the true tale which happened around the turn of the 19th century.

The son followed his father to the brother one night, and when he found him in the company of a prostitute, chopped his father’s head off with an ax, said Noland.

“The son was actually taken to trial and the jury acquitted him saying it was only an act of passion and he was only protecting the family name,” said Noland.

Employees in the Levee House Cafe have reported candles relighting themselves and several dish washers used to refuse to go to the second floor alone, he mused.