Part of the fun of exploring Marietta is staying in, eating or having drinks in a historic building. Many of these wonderful structures date from the early 1900s. A few are even older. Building owners go to great lengths to preserve period details and to recreate the charming atmosphere of the past. A few locations, however, have a bit more historic authenticity than their owners intended. These buildings are haunted.
The Buckley House, now an elegant restaurant, was built as a private residence in 1879 for Maria Woodbridge, a pious spinster and wealthy pillar of Marietta society. She sponsored a young Chinese man named William New Kim who came to Marietta to learn to be a missionary. He lived in Miss Woodbridge’s house while he pursued his studies.
Before too long William fell in love with Miss Woodbridge’s maid. The feeling was mutual. The two promised to stay together forever then sealed their pledge in the way young people often do. When Miss Woodbridge discovered the sin that had been committed under her roof, she was horrified. After firing the maid, she chastised and berated William until she ran out of insults. She summoned her pastor to heap even more guilt and shame upon the devastated young man. It was all too much.
Within 24 hours William was dead. He had locked the door to his upstairs bedroom and overdosed on chloroform. For more than a century people have heard odd sounds and experienced deeply unsettling feelings on the second floor of the Buckley House. One has to wonder whether the echoes of poor William’s turbulent thoughts and emotions will ever dissipate.
The Buckley House is located at 332 Front Street, 740-374-4400.
One of Marietta’s favorite restaurants and watering holes, the Galley is located in the old Hackett Hotel building. Built in 1899, the hotel was across the street from the train station and railroad yards. In addition to its convenient location, it featured a bowling alley, a popular bar and several equally popular prostitutes.
The hotel closed in the 1960s and the building fell into disrepair. It got new life in the 1980s when it was renovated and turned into a restaurant. The paranormal activity began as soon as the restaurant opened. It continues to this day. In fact, several long time staff members say it’s picking up steam. Bottles crash to the floor, glasses leap out of their racks, and chairs screech across the wood floors in otherwise empty rooms.
The activity is so intense and so frequent, employees decided to give their ghost a name. They call her Charlotte. They suspect she was one of working girls who lived in the old hotel. Charlotte is not only active; she’s very particular. She wants nothing to do with women. She ignores them completely and focuses all of her energy on the guys. It’s not a friendly energy. Charlotte hates men.The Galley’s building dates from 1899.
No one knows who this entity may really have been or why she is so angry. Could the fact that bedroom doors from the old Hackett Hotel decorate the Galley’s dining room be part of the problem? If they were gone, would Charlotte leave too?
The Galley Restaurant & new Hackett Hotel is located at 203 Second Street, 740-374-8278.
In business since 1900, the Harmar Tavern is a neighborhood pub and down home hangout. The Harmar is the home of the “Soon to be Famous Fried Bologna Sandwich” and serves the best breakfasts in town. It also plays host to the specter of an unhappy old woman.
Dressed in mourning garb, a black hoop skirt, bonnet and veil, the tiny, frail woman appears in the back corner of the main dining room. She never speaks or moves. She simply glares at the customers. Her outfit would have been old-fashioned even in 1900 when the Harmar opened. Her identity and reason for being in the tavern are a complete mystery.
The Harmar Tavern is located at 205 Maple Street, 740-373-8727.
The Lafayette Hotel claims the title of the most paranormally active spot in town, no small feat given the amount of unexplained activity that bubbles up in and around Marietta. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending your point of view, you don’t have to be a registered guest to have a brush with the supernatural in the Lafayette. Ghostly encounters occur in the lobby, the Gun Room Restaurant, the Riverview Lounge, the ballrooms and public restrooms throughout the building.
Staff and patrons have seen the hotel’s former owner enjoying an early morning cup of coffee in the Gun Room, which is a little disturbing. He died in 1981. An elegantly dressed Victorian lady occasionally wanders through the lounge then vanishes through the back wall. And there’s the little boy, no more than four-years-old, waiting patiently outside the ladies’ restroom in the basement.
The paranormal activity at the Lafayette is ongoing. New reports come in almost every month. Some describe minor, low level incidents; others are more significant. All are stunningly peculiar. An entire chapter of Haunted Marietta: History and Mystery in Ohio’s Oldest City is devoted to the Lafayette. The hotel is also one of the main stops on Ghost Trek.
The Lafayette Hotel is located at 101 Front Street, 740-373-5522.
Spagna’s has wonderful southern Italian food, a cozy atmosphere, gorgeous antique bar, delightful outdoor patio and a haunted telephone. The owner placed the vintage white payphone at the end of the bar as a decorative item and conversation piece. It certainly has out-performed expectations. Even though the phone is not connected to anything, every once in a while it rings and not just once, several times. This does not happen late at night when there is only one lonely cleaning person there to hear it. It rings in the presence of dozens of diners. The last time it happened, an intrepid customer picked up the receiver and stammered, “Hello?” Of course there was no response. Nothing but dead air.
There are issues with Spagna’s second floor as well. The area is not open to the public but servers and kitchen staff regularly trudge up the steep staircase to fetch supplies. They report feeling a chilly presence and hearing jingle bells, and not just at Christmastime. Spagna’s building dates from 1848. It’s one of the oldest on the west side. Who or what is so fond of bells and ringing is anyone’s guess.
Spagna’s is located at 301 Gilman Avenue, 740-376-9245.
Rivertown Grill is one of our favorite places in town. A cozy atmosphere, with delicious comfort food, it is a great place for lunch, dinner or a snack! Located directly underneath the old sanitarium, it has its share of strange activity. The Tiber Way building was built to house those dying of the 'White Plague', or Tuberculosis. It was a state of the art hospital for 1900, but it was a terrible place for those suffering from breathing problems. As it was built to allow the railroad tracks to curve around to Second Street, steam trains ran all day long underneath the windows of patients, pouring smoke into their rooms. After the Tuberculosis patients were moved out to the countryside, the building housed those with mental difficulties, as well as the abandoned elderly. After the building was abandoned, those wandering around inside would hear moaning, and see dark figures huddled in the corners, crying. They would disappear when approached. It is possible that many lost souls still linger in this building.
Rivertown Grill is located at 10 Tiber Way, 740-374-3007.