Five Scariest Places In Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio is known for having its fair share of haunted locations, and not just during the Halloween season. With everything from old museums and restaurants, to a confederate cemetery, Columbus has a variety of haunted and scary attractions beyond the traditional haunted house. But what is good about many of the scary attractions in Columbus is that they are functioning year-round businesses, so none of them are designed to scare their patrons, like many Halloween-centered attractions may be. Instead, many of the scary places in Columbus are considered as such because of reported hauntings and supernatural happenings that have occurred there over the years. So instead of going into these places expecting a good scare, visitors may find themselves pleasantly surprised by the spooky things they see, making a visit to these places an even more enjoyable experience.

Thurber House and Museum

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The Thurber House and Museum is the restored home of one of Columbus's most famous authors, James Thurber, who was also a well-known humorist and cartoonist. The house has been considered to be haunted ever since Thurber lived there, and he actually wrote about a ghostly experience he had in the house in his popular book My Life and Hard Times. Thurber did his own research to find out who may be haunting the house, and discovered that it may be the ghost of a man who killed himself after he caught his wife cheating on him. Other speculations are that the house may be haunted by victims from an 1868 fire at the former insane asylum near the house. Those who lived in the house after Thurber continued to report ghostly happenings, hearing footsteps on the back steps and the clattering of kitchen cupboards at night. Even today, visitors to the house say they have experienced some spooky things there, and have even watched books fly right off the shelves. Haunted tours of the Thurber house are offered during the month of October through the Columbus Landmarks Foundation. Otherwise, visitors can go on free, self-guided tours of the Thurber House every day (with the exception of major holidays) from 1-4 p.m.

Red Brick Tavern

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Although the Red Brick Tavern is a restaurant today, it has served a variety of functions since being built in 1836, operating as a family home, inn, and private school, just to name a few. Since then the restaurant has become known for its steak dinners named after the six U.S. presidents that visited the site: John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Warren G. Harding. But beyond its steak dinners, the Red Brick Tavern is also known for being one of the most haunted restaurants in the city. According to legend, shortly after the tavern first opened in the 1800's, a young woman killed herself after she discovered that her fiancé had left her for someone else. Before she died, she supposedly embroidered a sampler that said "Remember Me," which now hangs in the hallway on the second floor and is stained to the point of appearing blood red, which is of course considered to be caused by the ghost. Many of the tavern's customers over the years have said that they've seen the woman appear in the upstairs windows and have even seen her messing with the lights. There are also several reports of footsteps being heard coming from the upper floors, which are considered to be the sounds of the ghost walking around. Those who wish to visit the tavern to enjoy a good steak dinner and maybe catch a glimpse of its ghostly resident can stop by Monday-Saturday from 4-11 p.m., with the kitchen closing at 8:30 p.m.

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery

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The site of the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery was once where Confederate prisoners of war were kept by Union soldiers during the Civil War, with up to 8,000 men being kept there at one point. A Confederate cemetery was established in the spot at the end of 1863, with Confederate prisoners and community members alike being buried there, but it wasn't until 1890 that efforts were actually made to place markers on the graves of the Confederates. Today, the cemetery has 2,122 grave sites, so it would make sense to assume that it would be haunted. But rather than being haunted by one of the residents, the cemetery is haunted by a ghostly visitor known as "The Lady in Gray" because of the gray, Civil War-era suit that she wears. This lady is believed to be the ghost of a woman named Louisiana Rainsburgh Briggs, and she has been heard by many visitors weeping in front of the graves of Confederate Private Benjamin F. Allen and another unknown soldier. She has also been seen leaving flowers at these two graves, and has been said to walk through trees, grave stones, and even the wrought-iron gates of the cemetery itself. Those who want to pay their respects at the cemetery and perhaps catch a glimpse of The Lady in Gray can stop by on any day between sunrise and sunset.

Schmidt's Sausage Haus

Known today for its Bahama Mama sausage and half-pound cream puffs, it's hard to image that the Schmidt's Sausage Haus was ever anything but one of Columbus's most recognizable restaurants. Located in the historic German Village neighborhood, Schmidt's was once a slaughterhouse, a meat packing and shipment house, and even a horse stable. The location was eventually turned into the restaurant in 1967, and over the years some spooky things have happened at the restaurant to make staff members believe that it is inhabited by a ghost. But unlike some of the other haunted places in Columbus, the ghost at Schmidt's is said to be friendly, perhaps because he is considered to be the location's original owner, J. Fred Schmidt. Though there doesn't seem to be any reports of customers seeing the ghost, many staff members have reported seeing him or other spooky things after closing time. One general manager said he saw the reflection of a friendly old man wearing a clean apron who smiled and waved at him, but when the manager turned around he was nowhere to be seen. Staff members have also reported chairs being moved around in the banquet room, doors opening and closing on their own, lights turning off and on their own , and hearing footsteps on the second floor. For those who want to enjoy some good, authentic German cuisine and maybe have the chance to see a friendly ghost, Schmidt's is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Central Ohio Fire Museum

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Once a functioning firehouse, known as Engine House No. 16, the Central Ohio Fire Museum houses a variety of historic fire-fighting vehicles and other artifacts. The building is an artifact in itself, since it was built in 1908 and served as a Columbus city ladder company for 73 years, meaning that the department was comprised of firemen that knew how to run a ladder truck. Since the museum is housed in such an old building, it's no wonder there have been many ghostly happenings reported there over the years. Many people have reported that they can hear the sounds of horses snorting in the museum, and it is believed the sounds may be caused by the ghosts of the Thoroughbred horses that once pulled the old fire engines. But the horses aren't the only ghosts said to haunt the is believed that the station's first fire captain, known as "Captain D," or by his real name Captain George Dukeman, also resides in the building. While he was alive, Captain Dukeman was known for being obsessive about ordering and checking equipment and the same seems to be true for his ghost. Visitors and staff both have reported hearing who they believe to be Captain Dukeman's ghost talking sternly and singing, and believe he is responsible for making artificial flames randomly appear in the children's educational materials. Those who want to take in all of the history and spookiness of the Central Ohio Fire Museum can tour the building Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a small fee.

Miranda Roehler grew up in Northwest Ohio. She studied Creative Writing and History at The University of Findlay and has been published in multiple international journals.