03/02/2003: Thanks to Michelle Katka for submitting one of her five creepy adventures to the Ohio Penitentiary. Too bad the prison was demolished to make way for the Arena District. Instead of the typical cold spots, Michelle actually experienced a hot spot! That’s a very strange coincidence considering a major file killed 322 inmates during an escape attempt in 1930.
I don’t have anything having to do with the “Arena” but when the Pen was there, my friends and I broke in a few times. I can tell you that we were walking along the top of some of the cell blocks themselves (they didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling so that guards could stand right on top of them and keep an eye on the prisoners from there). Anyway, it was going into autumn and late at night so it was really chilly all through everywhere we’d been. Until we got on top of one of the cell blocks. It became overwhelmingly hot, to the point where I thought I was going to pass out. We began sweating and could actually see those heat waves coming off the concrete. Well, needless to say we thought this was very strange and it made us extremely uncomfortable so we got away from there. It wasn’t until later, when I started doing some research at the library because we were trying to find the death house, that we found out this was the cellblock where those prisoners died in that fire. (Creepy huh?)
09/13/2003: The next story comes from JG, telling about her adventure at the Ohio Penitentiary. The entire prison grounds were demolished to make way for Columbus’ Arena District. She tells of feeling icy cold hands, rotting buildings, and her grandmother actually sat in the electric chair!
My senior year in high school (’97) my friend Tim and I found ourselves downtown with nothing to do. We drove past the Pen and decided to hop the fence and go in. This guy who had been sitting there with his girlfriend went in with us. His girlfriend stayed behind saying she was too scared. In the front section of the Pen, that faced the street, you could clearly hear the cars passing so that might discredit the silence all over the Pen story. What was eerie was the one of the cell blocks and especially the chapel. The cell blocks were 8 steps by 8 steps and contained a metal cot, a toilet, and a sink. I went in one and Tim started to close the door. Not only did I panic but I felt something ice cold on my shoulder. We got out of there immediately.
In the chapel you could tell homeless people had lived there. We went up to the priest’s room and neither of us could go near what was left of the bathroom. The actual chapel was missing some of its roof and smelled like mildew and rot. We heard footsteps, got scared and left. We weren’t sure what it was but it was coming down the stairs. The whole feeling I got from the place was just cold and sad. We saw where the warden’s office building was but were too afraid to go in. We almost wanted to climb the water tower to see what the guards would have seen when they were up there. It was a no go. Too rickety. When we left, the girlfriend was outside crying and just as we were getting to our cars two cop cars showed up. Without saying, we left.
** Special Note: My grandma loves to tell this story…when her and my grandfather were married they came to Columbus on their honeymoon and toured the Old Pen. She even got to sit in the electric chair. ***Special Note 2: My husband recently took me out to eat at Gordon Birsch. Does anyone know if that was part of the Old Pen site because I could not get warm in that place and it made the hair on the back of my neck prickle.