Halloween is just around the corner. As the leaves turn and the shadows grow longer, it's the perfect time of year to delve into the spine-tingling mysteries that shroud the Dayton area. Dayton, Ohio, known for its rich history, has more than its fair share of rumored haunted places for the upcoming spooky season, that have left curious souls both intrigued and unnerved. So, gather 'round, dear readers, and prepare to explore the ghostly tales that have long haunted the Gem City.
1. Hills and Dales Lookout Tower
Even the name has been a mystery – over the years, Hills and Dales Lookout Tower has been known as Witches Tower, Frankenstein’s Castle and Patterson Tower. Constructed in 1941 with the purpose of offering picturesque views of the Community Country Club, the 30-foot-tall tower was assembled over the course of a year by individuals working under the National Youth Administration. They utilized salvaged stone to bring the impressive structure to life.
The most well-known, tragic story unfolds with the passing of Peggy Harmeson, a 16-year-old resident of Bellbrook. In 1967, during a fateful thunderstorm, she and her companion, 17-year-old Ronnie Stevens, sought refuge inside the tower as the rain raged on. Tragically, Harmeson lost her life inside the tower when it was struck by lightning. Her lifeless body was discovered on the 11th step, marred by severe burns, while Stevens, was overwhelmed with shock so much so that he was restrained when responders arrived.
Legend has it that after those events unfolded, visitors reported discovering scorched images of the girl within the tower and despite all efforts to scrub them away, the stains persisted on the walls. A ghostly girl and boy are said to appear at the site whenever lightning illuminates the sky. The tower entrance is now securely sealed with concrete but continues to beckon those inquisitive enough.
2. Victoria Theatre
Beyond the captivating performances that grace the stage at the Victoria Theatre, a tapestry of events has woven its way through the theatre’s 150-year history. Among the most mystifying tales dates back to the early 1900s, when an actress affectionately known as 'Vicky' made her exit from the stage, bound for her dressing room to prepare for the next scene, yet never returned. To this day, her presence occasionally graces the theater, leaving behind the subtle and sweet scent of rose perfume. The echoes of her footsteps and the gentle rustling of her petticoat have also been known to hurry across the stage.
Also, within the walls of the theatre, in the 1950s, a haunting incident unfolded as a man tragically took his own life by plunging onto a knife lodged within one of the theater's seats. His apparition has since manifested on the theatre’s curtain numerous times, as a reminder of that fateful day.
Adding to the odd mysteries, reports of a woman encountering a physical assault within a private box have surfaced. Following that, in the same box, a male visitor has claimed to have been struck so forcefully by an unseen female presence that it left a mark, further fueling the theatre’s uncanny vibe.
3. The Amber Rose
The Amber Rose is home to homemade Eastern European Cuisine that includes German, Lithuanian, Polish, Hungarian, Russian and Italian dishes. However, the building was originally built by Sigmund Ksiezopolski in 1910 to serve its purpose as a general store. The building suffered a fire and was reconstructed by new owners, in 1990 when it transformed into The Amber Rose.
The fire, even so, did not take with it the spirit of the original owner’s daughter, Genevieve. Genevieve, also known as “Chickee”, spent most of her time in the attic at her father’s old store that she loved so dearly. Customers have since spotted a female with long black hair in the attic window. Staff members have also recounted witnessing inexplicable occurrences, from glasses mysteriously taking flight off the shelves to lights flickering on and off and hearing strange laughter or her sweet singing.
If you happen to choose to dine at The Amber Rose, you may just spot a figure in the bathroom mirror and turn around to find no one behind you.
4. Woodland Cemetery
Not far from the Woodland Avenue entrance of the cemetery is a renowned gravestone known as "The Boy & Dog" memorializes the resting place of young Johnny Morehouse, who passed away on August 14, 1860.
Legend has it that Johnny was frolicking alongside the Dayton canal with his ever-loyal companion and closest friend, his faithful dog. Tragedy struck when Johnny accidentally slipped into the canal's waters. His loyal canine made valiant attempts to rescue him, but despite its efforts, by the time Johnny was retrieved from the water, it was too late. In the days following the boy’s funeral, the devoted dog paid a visit to the gravesite staying there morning, noon and night, surviving off of small offerings of food from mourners until his own eventual death.
Some have said that if you are to place your hand under the nostrils of the dog portion of the monument, that it seems to breathe; you’ll feel the unearthly sensation. Tales are told of the child and the faithful dog wandering the cemetery grounds, spooking nearby neighbors, under the veil of the night.
5. Endora Buried at Dayton Cemetery
Agnes Moorehead, an American actress is acclaimed for her iconic portrayal of the character Endora, a witch, in the television series Bewitched. In her role as Samantha's overbearing mother, Endora proved to be a constant source of exasperation for the unfortunate Darrin, frequently materializing and vanishing within his suburban abode, often leading to magical mishaps.
Moorehead appeared onstage early on in her career, making her first appearance when she was just 10 years old. Though saddened by her passing, she worked until the very end, ending her career on the Broadway stage. Now, Dayton is honored to be the ground on which her memorial lies, being that it was the last pastoral assignment of her father.
While not as ‘haunting’ of a site as the aforementioned locations, should you choose to visit Ms. Moorehead, the expansive Memorial Abbey structure situated at the rear of Dayton Memorial Gardens is her final resting place. Upon entering through the front door, use the staircase, and you’ll find yourself in the first corridor on the left, known as the Sanctuary of Peace. It's a serene and hushed environment, with a convenient bench positioned directly in front of her crypt: Ms. Moorehead is seven rows over and three rows up.