|Photo by Melissa Stanley|
Built in 1861 by James Emmitt, the Emmitt House opened as a popular hotel and restaurant for travelers and workmen along the Ohio-Erie Canal. James Emmitt, believed to be the area's first millionaire, hired a man named Madison Hemmings to work on the hotel's construction. According to a popular debate, it is believed that Hemmings was actually the illegitimate son of Thomas Jefferson.
Today, the hotel rooms stand empty or used for storage, but the bottom floor of the three-storied (plus basement and attic) former hotel is still a popular restaurant facility. And...after many experiences by staff and patrons alike, it has now become a popular ghost hunting destination as well.
There are many different stories about the Emmitt House restaurant and its colorful past. For many years, it operated as a gentleman's club, barring women completely from within its upper walls. It is also rumored to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, a fact supported by the many bricked over hidden rooms and other maze-like features of the sprawling basement.
There are also no less than three ghosts said to make their final home here. The first is obviously Mr. Emmitt himself, who is seen throughout the building. However, he is often "smelled" more than he is seen...witnesses claim to smell his cigar smoke around, despite the fact that no one in the building is smoking at the time. This phenomena is so widely accepted, that visitors routinely leave fine cigars out on the bar for Mr. Emmitt to smoke.
Other apparitions include those of an older woman who is seen cleaning up, when no one is supposed to be in the building. When Chris Woodyard, psychic and author of the Haunted Ohio series visited, she saw a woman, dressed in early 1900s attire in one of the restrooms. Possibly the same woman? In addition to the lady, two children from what is believed to be the Harper family, are seen playing and running throughout the building, and several former slaves are seen or heard in the basement area.
During Chris Woodyard's visit, she also had an encounter with a threatening young man in the attic (more on that later), a teenage boy in Room 29, and someone experiencing lung difficulties on the third floor.
Huntington Paranormal Investigations and Research investigated this location in 2007, and had an extremely interesting night of activity. During this time, we experienced the crashing of dishes in the kitchen, only to find nothing disturbed, and everything neatly put away. We also experienced our most watched YouTube video of the little girl singing Old Susanna! over our walkie-talkies (we do realize this is most likely bleed through from a nearby source, and NOT an example of paranormal activity, but it is funny, and pretty darn cute). I did have one personal experience during our walk through that no one experienced--I saw a young man standing behind the bar, mopping the bar with a white towel. When I ran over to snap a picture, he dissipated before my eyes. However, it was that evening that I also had one of my personal worst experiences.
After the investigation, I had a long drive ahead of me. I had to stay on the phone with either my boyfriend, or my fellow investigators the entire time, because my head was hurting so bad I could hardly stand it. Up until this point, I had never had a migraine before, but I would assume this was what was happening. I got home in the wee hours of the morning, and fell right to sleep. I slept a full 18 hours without waking up once the entire time. I've never crashed this bad after an investigation before, but figured I was probably just trying to catch up on my sleep, and shake off the migraine.
The only strange part is that I woke up remember a series of really lucid dreams about the Emmitt House in its days of being a hotel. I remember being in one of the rooms on the third floor. It was sparsely furnished, but I remember sitting in a wooden chair near the radiator. I was being "guarded" by a young, dark haired gentleman. I remember being scared, and feeling like this young man would not let me leave...I didn't feel like he personally had, or was going to, hurt me, but that he was put in charge of making me stay put in this room.
For the next couple of weeks, the usually mundane and sporadic activity in my own house seemed to increase exponentially. The actual day after the investigation (after I finally woke up), I had an incident in my own kitchen that mirrored the crashing we heard at the restaurant. I was in my room, home alone, when I heard a crash. I ran into the kitchen to find that all the pots and pans we had in the cabinet were now scattered all over the kitchen floor.
After a time, the activity in my home died back down, but then I had another weird set of things happen in direct correlation with the Emmitt House investigation. Our video of the little girl singing over our walkie-talkies was released to the public, via our website. Since it was cute and funny, I uploaded it to several different message boards that I was a part of, including the old KAPS board.
When the first video was sent, I was still perusing that message board when I happened to feel a little sting on my wrist. I looked down at it, and there were three scratch marks, almost like a cat. They were fresh, and had small droplets of blood clinging to them. I put it out of my mind, because I thought I must have simply scratched it on something laying around my computer desk, or some other mundane explanation...after all, I did have a cat, and maybe the scratches were just old ones that I didn't realize I had, and became irritated.
That was until the second time it happened, lol. Once again, I uploaded and shared the video of the little girl singing. While it was actually posting, I went to go take a shower. As soon as the water hit my chest, I felt another sting. I got out of the shower immediately, cleaned the steam off the bathroom mirror, and saw three identical scratch marks on my chest. If I would have done these myself, I would have had to use my left hand to mimic the direction they were in...and since I'm right handed, I wasn't too sure how likely a possibility that was...I certainly didn't consciously do this act, but still clung to the skeptical point of view.
It wasn't until it happened a third time that I decided to ask for some intervening help in this matter. Whatever may or may not have followed me, or got stirred up by this investigation, is now gone...or at least behaving itself. While doing research for this post, I was quite surprised to see Chris's encounter with a menacing young man in the attic. Could this have possibly been the same man I saw in my dreams?
Update January 2014: Around 8:30pm Monday, January 6th, a call came in reporting a fire at the Emmitt House Restaurant. As of this writing, the fire has spread to surrounding buildings and the whole area is shut down was firefighters deal with freezing temperatures. The building is expected to be a total loss.
The Walkie-Talkie Video
Huntington Paranormal Investigation of the Emmitt House, including the infamous video!