Newark Advocate – 10/31/2010

Licking County has fair share of paranormal activity

6:21 AM, Oct 31, 2010
Written by Anna Sudar

GRANVILLE – Orville Orr loves ghost stories.

But he didn’t read his stories in a book. The Granville man has experienced many of his spooky tales firsthand.

Since 1972, Orville and his wife, Audrey, have owned The Buxton Inn in Granville.

The house is believed to be haunted by two of its former innkeepers, Maj. Horton Buxton and Ethel “Bonnie” Bounell.

“It’s really nothing bloodcurdling; they just appear as real people,” Orville said.

Countless guests have told the Orrs they’ve seen Buxton or Bounell in their rooms in or around the inn.

Bounell, whose favorite color was blue, often is seen wearing a blue dress. The ghost of her cat also has been seen walking the halls and jumping on beds, Orr said.

Often lights and electronics will turn on and off on their own, Orr said. Footsteps can be heard in the halls when no one is there.

The Buxton Inn isn’t the only place in Licking County with a ghostly reputation. Several locations in Newark, Granville and even the village of Hartford are said to be haunted.

Around Halloween, people are very interested in hearing the stories of Licking County’s spookiest locations, said Jason Robinson, founder of the Ohio Exploration Society.

Founded in 2000, the society conducts paranormal investigations and collects haunting stories.

“I call the period from the beginning of September until the beginning of November our peak season,” he said. “Our website doubles in traffic, and we have lots of people sending us their stories.”

People always have been interested in ghost stories and haunted places, but in recent years, TV shows such as “Ghost Hunters” have made the paranormal much more popular, Robinson said.

“In the past, people would keep these things to themselves,” he said. “Now it’s a lot more acceptable to talk about it. People are more willing to share their experiences with the unknown.”

At first, Orville and Audrey were hesitant to talk about the ghosts they claim frequent their inn. But as more people expressed interest in the story of the Buxton, Orville realized ghostly tales were worth telling.

“I think we know there is more to us than what we are when we stop breathing,” he said. “And we don’t know a lot about that other being.”

For the Orrs, Halloween is a busy time. Guests check in to explore the inn and catch a glimpse of its ghostly residents.

But you don’t need to check into the Buxton to get your fill of Licking County ghost stories. On this page, The Advocate has compiled a list of some of the county’s most mysterious myths and hair-raising haunts to make Halloween just a little bit spookier.

One Denison University building that is said to be haunted is Chamberlin Lodge, which is used for student housing. In 1999, Ohio Exploration Society founder Jason Robinson attended Denison and lived in the lodge.

“I had the door closed and I was sitting there when I felt a hand on my shoulder,” he said. “I turned around and no one was there.”

Since then, Robinson has heard from several other Chamberlin residents who have felt a ghostly presence in the lodge.

“A guy wrote me ad said he was also touched on the back,” Robinson said. “He thought it was a buddy, but there was no one there.”

Another of Denison’s ghost stories is a cautionary tale for students in the library.

The library’s seventh floor now houses the university’s archives. But decades ago, students would use the floor as a place to study and sometimes, to nap, said Heather Lyle, university archivist.

According to legend, a ghostly woman in a long dress would hit students with a ruler when they fell asleep, Lyle said.

“I was told that story was made up by a staff member to entertain students,” she said. “It’s just a story.”

The historic buildings owned by the Licking County HIstorical Society always have been interesting to paranormal investigators.

The Sherwood-Davidson House is no exception, Curator Emily Larson said.

The 19th century house in Veterans Park in Newark is used as a museum.

Several paranormal teams have explored the house and found evidence of hauntings, Larson said.

“They got a little girl’s voice on tape and got video tape of a chandelier swinging back and forth,” she said. “They took a shot of an orb rising up the side of the house.”

For several years, the Brunswick Building appeared to be haunted by a ghost who coughed three times.

In 1996, Carl Oliverio began renting the building at 26 S. Third St. in Newark, for his business, American Antiques. A carpenter mentioned he heard coughing on the second floor, and Oliverio went to investigate.

“I kept saying, ‘Who is it?’ but there was no one,” he said. “Customers started hearing what I heard.”

In 2004, the coughing stopped. Oliverio left the building in 2005 and moved his business.

The building now is being used as a private home.

“I think (the ghost) just got bored with me,” he said with a laugh. “I haven’t heard anything else about it.”

The Licking County Historical Society’s Buckingham Meeting House has its own spooky story.

Built in 1835, the house is located in Veterans Park in Newark and often is used for weddings and parties. When Larson began working for the historical society, she was told the ghost of Judge Jerome Buckingham once paid a visit to his former home.

“This was before my time here, but there was a wedding here one night and the bride thought she saw Judge Buckingham sitting at the top of the stairs,” Larson said.

Several paranormal groups have visited the house to look for the ghostly judge, Larson said.

It’s been three years since Hartford Elementary School closed. But the Croton/Hartford Investigators of the Paranormal believe the halls remain full of activity.

Built in 1927, the school was closed in 2007. The newer part of the building is being used as a community center, but the older part is vacant.

The members of CHIPs conducted several investigations in the school in 2009.

“We caught multiple voices on tape,” said Justin Kibler, a member of CHIPs. “We’ve heard weird sounds on the roof and seen shadows moving in certain rooms.”

One legend about the Children’s Home, 743 E. Main St., is told about its cemetery.

It’s said that a man was killed in the graveyard in the early 1900s and his ghost can be seen walking across the field, Larson said.

Used as a home for orphaned children, the home closed in 1975. The Licking County Genealogical Society used part of the building from 1975 to 2000.

When strange things happened in the building, society members would jokingly blame a ghost called Old Willie, according to a 1996 Advocate article.

Society members also reported a ghostly presence coming from Room 209, according to the article

Copyright © 2010, Newark Advocate

Thanks to Anna Sudar for interviewing the Ohio Exploration Society for her article about Licking County haunts.