HAUNTED OHIO: Haunted places in the region with bone-chilling ghost stories

Albert Stubbs and his family were photographed in the front of the Lebanon House (now the Golden Lamb) prior to 1909. Stubbs was the owner of the Lebanon House and also served as a Warren County Auditor and Lebanon Mayor. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WARREN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Caption
Albert Stubbs and his family were photographed in the front of the Lebanon House (now the Golden Lamb) prior to 1909. Stubbs was the owner of the Lebanon House and also served as a Warren County Auditor and Lebanon Mayor. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WARREN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

It’s the season for ghost stories.

The region is filled with countless tales of unearthly beings, creepy sites and chilling encounters.

Here are just a few eerie stories — the stuff of truth or legend, you be the judge — that have bewitched Dayton for years.

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👻THE OHIO STATE REFORMATORY IN MANSFIELD

Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, 1911. (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, 1911. (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Credit: ullstein bild Dtl.

Credit: ullstein bild Dtl.

The Reformatory is known for its grand Gothic architecture and its role in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.” It is also popular with visitors seeking a paranormal experience.

The sound of footsteps and muffled voices have been heard in the empty prison, according to The Ohio State Reformatory’s website. Behind the prison walls, inmates have died from hanging, disease and setting themselves on fire.

The prison grounds were also the scene of violence. The farm boss, his wife and daughter were kidnapped and murdered by two parolees in 1948.

A variety of classes in ghost hunting, private paranormal investigations and ghost walks are offered at the prison. As Halloween approaches, the former reformatory is transitioned into "Escape from Blood Prison," a haunted experience on a grand scale.

Through Oct. 31, visitors will be able to enjoy the haunted figures at the Ohio State Reformatory (and more) during the Escape From Blood Prison event. Escape From Blood Prison will take visitors through terrifying scenes at the prison on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight and Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $25 per person and an immersive Touch Pass, which allows the monsters to actually touch you, is $5. Tickets can be purchased online or onsite. Only cash payments are accepted onsite.

👻THE BISSMAN BUILDING IN MANSFIELD

The spirits of a child name Ruthie and a former grocery store employee haunt the historic Bissman Building in downtown Mansfield.

According to the story, the child was brutally killed by the employee, who later mysteriously lost his head in an elevator accident.

The building may seem familiar, as it was used as a location in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” and has been featured on the Syfy Channel.

Currently, the building’s owners are not allowing public or private tours of the grounds.

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👻THE SORG OPERA HOUSE

Sorg Opera Revitalization Group volunteers have spent many hours painting, cleaning and sprucing up the interior and exterior at the historic building built in 1891. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Sorg Opera Revitalization Group volunteers have spent many hours painting, cleaning and sprucing up the interior and exterior at the historic building built in 1891. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Sorg Opera House in Middletown is believed to be haunted by businessman Paul J. Sorg, who died in 1902.

In 2014, a team from ParaVizionz, a paranormal investigation group, with the help of a pair of mediums, visited the historic opera house with a crew from TV Middletown.

During the visit, the group claimed to have seen the spirit of Sorg sitting in the balcony, encountered a creepy male ghost who stalked women in the group, captured audio of ghosts speaking and singing and photographed a doppelganger.

Those who wish to catch a glimpse of the ghosts can purchase tickets to see a show at the haunted theater.

👻THE LOVELAND FROG

The legend of the Loveland Frog dates back more than six decades.

There are numerous versions of the creepy tale, but all revolve around frog-like humanoids with leathery skin seen near the Little Miami River. In the 1970s, two separate incidents allegedly involved Ohio policemen who said they saw a large frog-like creature with illuminated eyes stand up in the road and leap over a guard rail.

In 2016, a couple playing Pokemon Go claimed to have encountered the creature.

“We saw a huge frog near the water. Not in the game, this was an actual giant frog,” Sam Jacobs wrote to WLWT-TV. “Then the thing stood up and walked on its hind legs. I realize this sounds crazy, but I swear on my grandmother's grave this is the truth.”

👻THE GOLDEN LAMB

Historic photos of the Golden Lamb. Ohio's longest continually running business originally opened in 1803 as an inn, and moved to its current location at 27 S. Broadway St. in Lebanon in 1815. THE GOLDEN LAMB / CONTRIBUTED
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Historic photos of the Golden Lamb. Ohio's longest continually running business originally opened in 1803 as an inn, and moved to its current location at 27 S. Broadway St. in Lebanon in 1815. THE GOLDEN LAMB / CONTRIBUTED

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The Golden Lamb restaurant in Lebanon is known for more than a few ghost tales.

Among them, the scent of cigar smoke accompanies sightings of Charles Sherman, clad in a grey suit, who died at the Golden Lamb Inn.

A little girl named Sarah has been heard throwing temper tantrums in a room filled with children’s toys and furniture, according to “Haunted Ohio” author Chris Woodyard.

And the spirit of Clement Laird Vallandigham, a Dayton lawyer and politician who accidentally shot himself at the inn in 1871, makes the occasional appearance.

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👻POASTTOWN ELEMENTARY

The former Poasttown Elementary School in Madison Twp. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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The former Poasttown Elementary School in Madison Twp. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A former elementary school in Madison Twp. in Butler County is believed to be haunted by former students.

Darrell Whisman, a former teacher who made Poasttown Elementary his home, told WCPO in Cincinnati in 2016, "We’ll hear a desk being drug across the floor above us. We’ll hear little kids’ footsteps. I’ve heard voices with my own ears when nobody is here but me and my wife. I just can’t explain it."

Another theory for the unusual activity: The site is believed to have been near several tragic train accidents, one in which two locomotives collided head on in 1910, killing 30 people. Without a nearby hospital, the field where the school was built became a triage center. The theory is the spirits of those who died in the accident still remain on the land.

Paranormal investigators have been called in, and the building is also used for community events. According to Whisman, most depart having experienced something strange. He says the school’s motto is “When you leave, you believe.”

👻WITTENBERG UNIVERSITY

Looking back at photos of Wittenberg University.  Photos courtesy of Clark County Historical Society
Caption
Looking back at photos of Wittenberg University. Photos courtesy of Clark County Historical Society

Credit: Clark County Historical Society

Credit: Clark County Historical Society

Historic Wittenberg University, chartered in 1845, has its share of spine-chilling tales, most notably one about a ghostly horse.

The top floor of Myers Hall at Wittenberg University was used as a hospital for Civil War soldiers. Legend has it that a general, realizing he was about to die, requested that his faithful horse be brought to him. After saying goodbye to his companion, the general died, but the horse would not leave his side and was shot by soldiers.

It is said the sound of hoof beats and the neighing of the horse searching for its master can still be heard on the campus.

👻LOUISVILLE’S SEELBACH HILTON

This one is just a short trip away. A mysterious woman on the elevator may greet you at the historic Seelbach Hilton in Louisville.

According to the Historic Hotels of America website, in 1987, a chef working in the hotel saw a woman with dark hair wearing a long blue dress walk into an elevator with the doors still closed.

Moments later, a housekeeper on another floor saw the same woman get into another elevator with closed doors.

A 1936 newspaper report said a woman learned of her husband’s death in an automobile accident as she waited for him at the hotel. So upset by the news, she jumped to her death in the number three elevator. She was reported to have been wearing a long blue chiffon dress.

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