Saturday, February 4, 2012
The Crosskeys Tavern opened in 1972, owned by two friends, Dale Perry and Tom Burke. The popular Irish pub, which is housed in a building dating back to the 1800s, has served as a tavern since at least the early 1900s. In the 1930s, the building was occupied by Sun's Bar and Grill, and by 1933, was home to Shine's Restaurant occupying the front, and Club 19 in the back, operated by a man named Tom. The building got its current moniker from both a nod to the historic pioneer tavern of the same name, and the inspiration of Burke's father, who was born and raised in Ireland. It is an Irish tradition that a tavern bearing the cross keys emblem meant that room and board was offered there.
And, according to legend, it appears if one spirit took that symbolism a little too far, choosing to remain there for all eternity...or until further notice.
The pub's resident specter goes by the name of Harold. Harold, however, acts more like a poltergeist as his preferred methods of manifestation include turning lights on and off, and moving and breaking glasses in the bar area, which features an antique 1860s era bar made from one solid piece of wood. Harold also likes to hang out in the basement area, where staff members have reported hearing footsteps and whispers. The name of "Harold" actually came about when a friend and co-worker of one of the owners, a man named Bill, was over. After a series of poltergeist activity involving a door opening by itself, and then a separate incident involving a light that kept going out, Bill loudly announced to the specter, "Harold! You cut that out!" When asked why he chose to call the entity Harold, he shrugged and said that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
It is unclear who Harold is, or why he is haunting the Crosskeys Tavern. Some believe that he is the spirit of a man murdered in a back alley behind the bar. In fact, some believe that Harold is actually Tom, the owner of Club 19, who was allegedly a heavy gambler and was killed in the back alley behind the building over a bet gone bad. Others believe that there is a connection with Harold to the system of underground tunnels found under Chillicothe, which date back to at least the 1800s.
Entrance photo from Backroads of North America website