Once featured on the show “Scariest Places on Earth,” Athens, Ohio has more than its share of spooky stories from all over the town. Read on below!
“Every big hotel has got a ghost. Why? Hell, people come and go. Sometimes one of ’em will pop off in his room, heart attack or stroke or something like that. Hotels are superstitious places,” The Shining, Stephen King
What’s a spooky trip without a spooky place to stay? One spirit is said to haunt the hotel since passing away during their stay in the 1980s. A man had a heart attack while staying at the hotel, with his family making seven calls to 911 when they found him unresponsive. The paranormal activity seems to increase around the anniversary of his death.
One year, an employee says she received a call from that room even though no one was staying there. When she picked up there was just heavy breathing. That sounds more slasher movie than haunted hotel, but here’s what happened next: the empty room dialed 911.
It dial 911 seven times.
While some have debunked it, legend has it that the cemeteries around the town form the shape of a pentagram when linked together. The debunking comes from that fact that, realistically, you could connect any five cemeteries in the area and make a pentagram.
Ok, fair. But, would any of those other formations lead to a pentagram with a very haunted university at its center? The five cemeteries that make this pentagram are Haning, Hunter, Mathany, Peach Ridge, and Simms. Many of these cemeteries are said to be haunted themselves. Perhaps it’s their hauntings being connected in this shape that draws such dark energy to it’s center?
The most haunted of these cemeteries seems to be Simms cemetery. John Simms is buried there; he was the hangman in the town in the 1800s. Some legends say that the hanging tree is also within the cemetery and that you can still see the rope burns on it. Some visitors claim to see ghostly apparitions hanging in the tree. Others see John Simms, who is said to chase people out of the cemetery, shouting “GET OUT!”
Did you know Ohio University has been ranked at number 1 for haunted universities in the US? With multiple haunted resident halls as well as academic buildings it’s any wonder why!
One of the fraternity houses (Alpha Omicron Pi) was once a stop on the Underground Railroad when it was a private home. It’s said to be haunted by a slave named Nicodemus who was discovered and killed. Another fraternity house (Delta Tau Delta) was haunted as well, if only temporarily. Some of the brothers stole a tombstone from the previously mentioned Simms Cemetery which (somewhat rightfully) caused poltergeist activity; when the stone was returned the activity stopped.
Many other student housing options are haunted as well. Bush Hall is haunted by a spirit that likes to turn the water on and off in the bathroom sinks. Crawford Hall is haunted by a student named Laura who passed away after falling from the fourth floor. Reports here include flickering lights, slamming doors, and the shadow of Laura appearing in an RA’s room. Jefferson Hall has a haunted attic, where students exploring the area found a woman in 50s dress floating above the ground. This hall also has lights turning on and off as well as toilets that seem to flush on their own. Washington Hall is haunted by a basketball team that played here and then died in a bus crash on their way home.
The most haunted of these residence halls seems to be Wilson Hall. This hall is said to sit dead center in the pentagram and is alleged to be built on an old cemetery. Hauntings include apparitions, disembodied voices, slamming doors, banging noises, cold spots, and objects that just go flying through the air. Most of the activity seems to come from the fourth floor.
You can’t talk about hauntings in Athens without talking about the Asylum which is now known as The Ridges and is owned by Ohio University. The hospital opened in 1874 and was originally known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum. The hospital treated many, from Civil War soldiers (likely suffering from what is now known as PTSD) to the criminally insane. Treatments here include electroshock, hydrotherapy, and what the hospital was most known for, lobotomy.
Is it any wonder then that these buildings are haunted by the tortured souls of those who once resided there? It doesn’t help that many are buried on the grounds in graves that are marked by simply a number. Their apparitions are seen in empty hall ways, their disembodied voices heard in otherwise silent rooms. Many claim to see “strange lights” as well as being able to hear phantom gurneys in the hall, squeaking as their pushed by no one. The worst I think are the screams of patients that are heard echoing in the halls, the screams of the many that were mistreated here.