|Photo from Yelp|
When Aaron told me he was going to Columbus to do some work on a friend's gaming system and to attend a retro-gaming convention, I had no intentions of tagging along. I had previous commitments here and figured that there wouldn't be much to keep me entertained in regards to the gaming theme of the trip. But...Aaron lured me away with the prospect of visiting one of my favorite used bookstores, Half-Price Books, so I gave in and agreed to the trip. Even though we had a full day planned, while I was waiting for Aaron to come pick me me up Saturday morning, I did a quick online search for haunted places in Columbus.
The first location that jumped out at me was the Greater Columbus Antique Mall, located on S. High Street. Aaron showed up before I started reading about the history of the location and why it was believed to be haunted, but I made a mental note of what street it was on, since Aaron DID say he wanted to hit some local antique stores while in the area.
Saturday didn't go exactly as planned, and we didn't really have the time to cram in everything that Aaron had envisioned. After spending the early part of the afternoon at the convention and working on his friend's arcade machine, we decided we'd try to hit up one bookstore, and then we'd all go out to eat together, including our friend's wife and two kids. His wife suggested an awesomely unique bookstore called the Book Loft that was nearby. It wasn't the cheap, used bookstore that I had planned on, but that didn't matter since this place was the coolest place I have ever seen! Spanning a full city block, the Book Loft was 32 rooms crammed with books and related merchandise, all housed in a pre-Civil War era building in German Village, which over the years served as a saloon, general store, and nickelodeon theater. I picked up a few ghost DVDs and books, including a book on Haunted Columbus.
|Photo from The Book Loft Homepage|
We drove down there with our friend, and met his wife and kids there. From there, we took separate cars on to our next stop...the Ohio Deli and Restaurant, which was featured on Man Vs. Food. Our friend's wife had printed us out the directions to the restaurant, which was a blessing because when Aaron typed the address in the GPS, it wasn't there! Still, we managed to get lost, since Mapquest didn't take into account that the road we were supposed to take in the opposite direction was a one-way street. In our turned around state, we actually accidentally passed a large, creepy school, which I wasn't surprised to see featured in my new Haunted Columbus book as being built on the site of the former county poorhouse....because ya know...that stuff just happens to me.
|Photo from Trip Advisor|
Most of what I found online was from several years ago, so this is definitely a location that I'd like to look into a little deeper, including an in-person visit, but I did find out that the building was built in 1889 as a private residence. It served as two different funeral homes throughout the 1920s and 1930s, then did a stint as the Elks Lodge #37 throughout the 1940s-1970s. In 1979, Pat and Fred Altevogt turned it into an antique mall. Today, the store boasts anywhere up to 70 vendors...and probably just as many ghosts!
As we sometimes see with antique stores, as stock comes and goes, so does the nature of the paranormal activity. Still, it seems like there are some ghosts that stick around no matter what. According to one news interview, it all began when Pat gave a tour of the store to a woman who was apparently psychically sensitive. This woman saw a man in the basement area who she was shocked to discover was the same man shown in a photograph that hung in Pat's office...a photo showing a former employee in front of the building during its tenure as a funeral parlor. This man, who is described as wearing a brown suit and having a handle-bar mustache, has shown himself to many other visitors over the years, and is said to have been an embalmer in the 1920s.
There is also a woman seen wearing a Civil War era yellow gown and a rather sinister fellow in a black cape, whose apparition actually caused an employee to quit on the spot. Security alarms pick up the sounds of glass breaking, thumping, and cups rolling around so often that the owners don't even bother to check anymore.
Children are heard playing with toy cars upstairs in the attic, and have even been known to talk to one of the vendors who rents space there. Orbs have been seen by the naked eye going through doors, a back room smells of death, and one upstairs room in particular is avoided by some patrons due to a feeling of being choked. My favorite story is about a long wooden bench where several people have heard the sounds of elderly women gossiping. Near that bench, around an old vending machine, there has been the scent of Italian food.
Over the years several paranormal teams have investigated the building and at least one group got an interesting video. Someday in near future I hope to return to Columbus and get a chance to fully explore this location for myself!
Forgotten Ohio/The Other Paper
Ohio Exploration Society