Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Lynne Sturtevant’

Marietta Vice Walking Tour Filled with Thieves, Bars and Murders

This island contained an Amusement Park in 1900.

In 1900, Buckley Island contained an Amusement Park during the day, then became a Lawless Wonderland at night.

You had to be bold and brave if you dared walk on the seedy side of town in Marietta, Ohio back in the early 1900s. But Lynne Sturtevant recently led a crowd of fifty on an adventure back to early days as the old sections of Marietta were revisited. Along the way, characters in costume greeted the tour and told of dangerous adventures at that time.

Riverfront man and Lynne, our guide

Riverfront man and Lynne, our guide

Crime was a severe problem all along the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers in Marietta, with bars, bars, and more bars. The Ohio River flowed around a small island, that served as an amusement park during the day, but a whole new crowd arrived in the evening. They enjoyed all the vices of the time – drinking, gambling, prostitution, and murder. Going to the island in the evening had an added enticement of cheap beer. Along the shore beer was twenty-five cents a glass, but on the island, only five cents. The Island, now known as Buckley Island, was a lawless wonderland. If you wanted to do anything illegal, the island was the place!

Old hotel and bar

Notice the popular shadow advertisement of WHISKEY at The Levee House – just above the table tops.

Despicable characters roamed the streets, drinking and arguing over everything imaginable. One man and his wife were each found with bullets in their head after an argument over a wristwatch. The stories told were all true reports of the Marietta newspaper from that time.

Proud bartender

Proud bartender

Dance halls and saloons were the main businesses in town. Shadow advertising can still be seen on many buildings with words like WHISKEY worked right into the brick works.

Along the way, the group met a delightful bartender who told of some of the fights he had witnessed at the bars. The job he hated the most was cleaning the spittoons.

A character portraying Oliver Hyde, mayor of Marietta in 1904, spoke to the group in front of the police station. The building also served as the electric company and the mayor had his office on the top floor. He gave the latest police report describing real events in Marietta in 1904.

Historic Harmar Bridge

Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge

The historic Harmar Railroad Bridge provided a scenic walkway over the Muskingum River. This is the country’s oldest operating railroad swinging bridge, still using a hand crank to swing it open for passing boats. Where the Harmar Historical Village stands today, Fort Harmar existed in 1785 for the protection of the Indians.

Walking over the bridge, one of the roughest sections of town was on Maple Street. A young man, who lived there, told about his neighborhood. He spoke of Mr. and Mrs. Hayes, who were well known local folks. Mrs. Hayes served as a madam, while her husband usually caused problems. Mr. Hayes was very jealous of his wife and accused her of seeing the local bartender. She begged him, “Don’t kill me!”

He did.

Guy from the rough side of town

Guy from the rough side of town

The young man said the Marietta Police had never caught the husband and asked the mayor why he wasn’t working on it. The mayor, in typical mayor fashion said, “It’s under investigation.” The young man told the group to get back over the bridge as quickly as possible as the area was not a safe one.

While visiting a housewife in Sin City, she told of a murder that happened next door to her house. She was hanging out the laundry when she heard a husband and wife fighting next door. The husband yelled, “I’ll break your face right in if you do that again.”

Later she smelled a fire burning in their back yard and hurried to get her clothes off the line. About 5:00 the next morning, there was a knock at her door. At the door stood the next door neighbor. “Good morning, the missus has gotten drunk and fell into the fire and burned right up. She’s always getting drunk.”

When the police arrived at the scene, over half of the woman’s body was severely burned, but they could see severe bruises on her neck. Perhaps she didn’t just fall into the fire, but was pushed. You’ll have to visit to find out…the rest of the story.

A rainy ending to an educational and interesting day

A rainy ending to an educational and interesting day

Rain held off until the very end of the tour, when it came down from the sky in buckets. The wind, rain and lightning made it seem that this place was perhaps still dangerous.

Marietta, Ohio is located at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers in southern Ohio. Take Exit 1 off I -77 in Ohio to experience this delightful town. Characters along the way were provided by Paskawych Entertainment, LLC of Marietta.


Ghost Tales Flourish in Historic Marietta

Welcome to Hidden Marietta, where some stories – and some people – simply refuse to die.

The fountain marks the starting place for the Ghost Trek.

The fountain marks the starting place for the Ghost Trek.

The most haunted town in Ohio seems a natural place for a Ghost Trek – the streets of Marietta. Meeting near the Lafayette Hotel along the Ohio River, excellent guides tell some of the scariest stories about restless spirits left over from the past in this paranormal hot spot. Even rain won’t dampen your spirits.

While ghost stories are told at each stop, the tour also tells the history of early Marietta. As you hear stories of murder and paranormal activities, the heart races just a little faster as you glance around to see if there’s anything unusual happening.

The tour takes about two hours with perhaps a dozen stops, so many interesting ghost and historic tales are told along the way. Buckley Island in the middle of the Ohio River has experienced everything from Native American Indian attacks to an amusement park. At one point it also contained “Pest House”, where all sick people were quarantined to prevent illness from spreading on land. Once there, you stayed permanently. Today, hikers still feel sick and weak on the island…perhaps leftover energy?

Staircase the Ax Murderer used in 1890's.

Staircase the Ax Murderer used in 1890’s.

Walking down the brick streets, with Victorian style buildings, gives you the feeling of stepping back in time. Listen to the tales of footsteps, knocks, and voices in the night. When you visit the old La Belle Hotel, the eerie glow of the night beckons for a close look at the staircase where the ax murderer walked slowly up, then ran down. Those footsteps are still heard frequently today and reflect a residual haunting – energy left over from 130 years ago.

Today, guests at the Lafayette Hotel often comment about unusual happenings in their rooms. Glasses may be moved, lights turned on or off, and people are frequently seen roaming the halls. One of those nighttime visitors appears to be Mr. Hoag, former owner, in his brown derby hat.

Haunted Lafayette Hotel

Haunted Lafayette Hotel

Employees of long ago recognized Mr. Hoag as the best possible manager. Employees today say that sometimes during the night, the elevator will suddenly light up for 6th floor, which is where maintenance equipment is stored, and the manager frequently visited. After a short time, the elevator comes back down to the ground floor. Just Mr. Hoag, still checking on his hotel.

Former home of Marietta Sanitorium

Former home of Marietta Sanitarium

Another eerie stop was the Tiber Way Grille, where people hear moaning and sobbing. Close inspection of the old ghost advertisement on the side of the building, brings out the letters saying: Chronic Disease- Marietta Sanitarium. After the hospital moved, a funeral parlor occupied this building. Now you see the reason for the crying sounds. Soon this will become a Victorian style hotel – complete with ghosts.

Now that you have heard a few of the ghost stories, perhaps you’ll enjoy a visit to Marietta sometime soon yourself. While Halloween seems the perfect time for a Ghost Trek, this event is held every Friday and Saturday evening from June to November at 8:00. Meet at the corner of Front and Greene Streets, at the fountain by the famous haunted and historic Lafayette Hotel.

Watch out for those ghosts!

To arrive in Marietta, Ohio take Exit 1 off I off I-77 and head west on Route 7, Greene Street. Where the Muskingum River meets the Ohio River, you will find the old Lafayette Hotel, the starting point for the Ghost Trek. This walking tour is under the expert guidance of Lynne Sturtevant, founder of Hidden Marietta and author of several books of Marietta history.


Ghost Trek Stories in Hidden Marietta, Ohio

0oOOOoo! ooOOOoo! As the Ghost Lady leads a large group through downtown Marietta, Ohio, stories of ghosts are told on nearly every street. This is an old town with many restless spirits left over from the past.

Ghost Trek is a two hour walking tour of historic and haunted Marietta and begins along the Ohio River on aptly named Ohio Street.  Back in the early 1800s, this was the stopping off point for many riverboats.  So naturally a bar was one of the first establishments to serve the travelers.  The first bar to open ran out of whiskey in two hours and needless to say there were inebriated men walking the street 24/7, along with pick pockets and yes, ladies of the night.

The LaBelle Hotel was a popular House of Prostitution and the building is still in existence today, called the Levee House Cafe.  A story was told of a prominent businessman, who visited one of the young ladies frequently on the second floor. He attempted to keep this  a secret, but one evening his son followed him to the hotel with an axe.

The son watched as his father ascended the steps to the second floor and then waited until the light went out in one of the rooms.  Hastily, the son walked up to the second floor, opened the door, cut off his father’s head with the axe, and ran back down the steps to the street.  Guilty?  Not by the standards of those days! He was arrested but acquitted on the basis that he was defending his family honor.

Today the people who live in this building still hear the sounds of footsteps climbing up the stairs, a time of quiet, then footsteps running down the stairs again.  This is called residual haunting as the energy released in the environment during a traumatic event may  reappear as an echo of its original form.

On to the Lafayette Hotel where the third floor seems to have lots of unsettling paranormal activity. Built in 1918, every death that has occurred in this hotel has happened on the third floor.  Guests frequently complain of personal belongings being moved around.  One man commented, ” I am a science teacher. I don’t believe in any of this stuff”… until his belongings in his room got rearranged and some came up missing.

Fifty paintings of  artist James Weber (1888-1958) were brought to Sugden Book Store for an art show on the second floor. Melancholy Weber loved his art work, but was forced to run the family grocery store.  So he said that when he died he wanted all of his paintings burned.  But someone found fifty that were left behind!

After careful setup for the art show, the owners were very pleased with their findings. Next morning when they arrived to open the show, they found the table had been knocked over as well as the pictures.  On the desk was a real estate report – a deed from 1932 for James Weber’s art studio, right there on the second floor!

Restoration of the old Colony Cinema was seen firsthand as the group had special permission to enter the theater. Here, it is said, the ghost of the former owner, Mr. Shay,  travels via an underground passageway between the Colony Cinema and Mid Ohio Valley Players Theater across the street. Colony Cinema has been an important part of the Marietta community since 1919 when it was The Hippodrome Theater, the premiere showcase of Marietta and the surrounding area. Some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Boris Karloff, appeared on its stage.  Its gorgeous original asbestos fire curtain has been rediscovered and is being restored to be featured predominately in the restored Colony Cinema.

The last stop on the tour was at Tiber Way Grille, where people hear sobbing, crying, and have an edgy feeling.  They definitely feel it is haunted. Closer look at old lettering on the building perhaps gives a reason for this feeling.  It says: Chronic Diseases The Sanitorium. This twenty six room hospital was used for tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s as well as for those with extreme mental problems. Fittingly, next door was Doudna’s Funeral Services!

Nothing beats a haunted, moonlit night with ghosts of the past.

To arrive in Marietta, Ohio take Exit 1 off I 77 and head west on Route 7, Greene Street. Where the Muskingum River meets the Ohio River, you will find the old Lafayette Hotel, the starting point for the Ghost Trek. This walking tour is under the expert guidance of Lynne Sturtevant, founder of Hidden Marietta and author of several books of Marietta history.

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