Haunted in Kent


Photo courtesy of Jason Noble, Noble Images.

Megan Wilkinson

KentWired Video

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Kent Stage

It was early in the evening at the Kent Stage. Tom Simpson, director of Western Reserve Folk Arts Association, was alone in the basement, cleaning chairs before the end of his workday.

Simpson’s phone rang, breaking the silence. It was his son, Ethan, asking when Simpson would be coming home for dinner. When Simpson replied, his son couldn’t hear or understand his father.

“I could hear him, but he couldn’t hear me,” Simpson said.

Suddenly, a deep voice screamed through the phone only to Simpson, “TALK TO ME.”


The phone line between Simpson and his son immediately disconnected, and Simpson was left alone.

“It was pretty wild,” he said. “That scared the living crap out of me.”

Richele Charlton, Simpson’s wife and assistant director of the Western Reserve Folk Arts Association, said this was just one encounter they’ve had with a Kent Stage ghost.

The building is filled with paranormal activity, she said, but only the one ghost from the basement tunnel seemed to create any negative atmosphere. She described him as a shadow-like person.

“He just gave you this nasty, creepy feeling — like you had to vacate the area, and you couldn’t be there with it,” Charlton said.

When Kent Stage was haunted by this particular ghost, she said tables would flip, mold would rapidly creep into the room and bloodstains would appear on the walls.

“It was just the creepiest room ever,” she said. “He’s supposed to be gone, and we haven’t had issues (with him) for a couple of years, so hopefully he’s moved on.”

Despite this negative encounter, Charlton said she still likes to collect ghost stories from around the area and help with ghost hunts that the Kent Stage hosts on occasion. In early October, Charlton led the Kent Stage’s fifth annual ghost walk. Each year, about 200 people gather to tour haunted places in Kent, she said.

“I change it up each year because I have people who go on [the walk] every year or every other year,” she said. This year, the tour focused on haunted stories about the Cuyahoga River, the railroad and roads along the river.

The Kent Stage is home to more than one ghost in its basement tunnels. The building is said to be one of the most ghost-filled places in Kent.

Laura Lyn Lute, a full-time psychic medium with S.I.G.H.T. Ohio, has assisted in ghost hunts at the Kent Stage, and she said she has connected with spirits of all different sorts. The first time she visited the Kent Stage, she said she was amazed by the amount of spiritual activity.

“You can literally see orbs of light moving in and out that clearly was not dust on their security cameras,” Lute said. “It’s crowded with spirits.”

Lute said her S.I.G.H.T. team members heard multiple voices the nights they investigated the Stage through their ghost box, a tool they use to track spirits. She said “Woody” was one of the more positive spirits who lingered at the Stage.

The S.I.G.H.T. team discovered Woody used to be the Stage’s janitor.

“He must really have loved his job there,” Lute said.

It’s not surprising that the Stage is so packed with ghosts, Lute said, because entertainment industry sites tend to be breeding grounds for ghosts and spiritual activity.

“It sounds silly,” she said, “but it seems to be pretty universal … people in the entertainment industry loved what they did and [when they die] they want to stay where they’re at.”

Tips on ghost hunting:

Hunting ghosts is something anyone can learn to do, Lute said, but people should learn the trade from someone with experience. Rookie ghost hunters need to learn how to protect themselves from extreme situations that — though infrequent — can be physically, mentally and spiritually harmful.

Lute said she had one vicious encounter with a ghost at the Mansfield Reformatory where the ghost threw blood and would physically attack her.

“People need to understand the dangers,” she said. “There are cases of people dying from ghost hunting usually because of lack of being aware of their surrounding environment.”

She said the following are tools used by ghost hunters in the field of paranormal studies:

-High Tech Gear: recorders, electronic voice field-testing devices, radio waves, laser light and filming

-Low Tech Gear: dowsing rods and pendulums

Kent State Main Library basement

Four years ago, reference librarian Jasmine Jefferson ventured into the Kent State library’s basement to find a microphone. While searching the basement, she said she heard someone whispering her name, even though she was alone. When she grabbed the microphone, she said she felt someone put a hand on her shoulder.

“That was the only time anything like that ever happened to me,” Jefferson said. “I don’t go down there by myself anymore. It’s kind of secluded, and you really should go down with somebody.”

Jefferson said she’s not the only librarian to have encountered strange activity in the library’s basement. Several current employees mentioned having similar experiences to that of Jefferson’s.

Phi Sigma Kappa house

The Phi Sigma Kappa house belonged to the Floyd family before the fraternity moved in during the 1950s. The husband was a practicing physician and his wife, Sarah, took care of their children and home. According to the tale, Sarah E. Floyd killed herself in her husband’s surgical room upstairs in the home, fraternity member Chad Kubik said.

“They say that [the house] has been haunted ever since her suicide,” he said.

Sometimes Kubik notices things moving around in the house’s attic without anyone having gone up, but he said he hasn’t experienced anything paranormal. He said roommates and other fraternity brothers have heard unusual screams coming from upstairs, or they will get the feeling that someone is watching them by the old surgical room. Kubik said Sarah’s tombstone is a part of the fraternity house’s wall.

Above The Pufferbelly

Photographer Jason Noble does most of his work in his studio, Noble Images, on the second floor of The Pufferbelly. In February, Noble said a team of paranormal investigators visited his studio to look for spiritual activity.

After the investigation, the team emailed Noble a photo of a shadowy, Victorian woman and a young boy standing in the hallway of his studio. Being a photographer, Noble said the first thing he wanted to do was try to recreate and debunk the image.

“Me and my assistant spent hours in Photoshop playing with the image to see if something was really there,” he said.

Noble and his assistant played with the lighting in the halls, trying to recreate the photo. He checked for lens flare, sunspots and dust as he experimented. So far, he said, nothing he has tried has disproved the original photo.

“This is the only concrete piece of evidence we’ve been able to find so far [of ghosts in the studio],” Noble said. He said he tries to remain skeptical. “Do I believe in ghosts? Most definitely. Have I seen a ghost? Not in here.”

Noble has experienced chills in the hall and doors opening on their own, but aside from that, he said, nothing has popped out at him in the studio.


Take a look inside this store, and customers might sense that there are spirits floating around with all the tarot cards, orbs and crystals. Luna Hart, Empire store owner and manager, said that assumption would be correct, as she said Empire is one of the most haunted places in Kent.

On assistant manager Jen Edwards’s first day, she said she smelled smoke coming from the front of the store.

She panicked and said she felt like she had to get out of the store. After asking a co-worker about the smell, her co-worker laughed and said the store had burned down in the 1800s, and energy still remains from the fire.

Edwards said she wasn’t the first person to have smelled smoke in the shop.

Hart said she has spiritual stories about “every inch of the shop.” There are three main ghosts who frequent Empire: a little girl, a middle-aged woman and an old man, she said. The old man, named Christian Link, is the most notable. Hart said she sensed Link’s presence in the store when she first opened the shop after communicating with his spirit in the back room.

Cuyahoga River

The Cuyahoga River was an important part of life for Native Americans who used to live in the area, and later in the 1800s when it was connected to the Underground Railroad.

Lute said bodies of water contain higher levels of kinetic energy, which is something ghosts and spirits constantly seek.

“All along the Cuyahoga River, you have the water itself, which holds and amplifies the energy of spirits,” Lute said.

There are several stories of encounters with Native American spirits near the river, Charlton said. The combination of energy coming from the water and traumatic histories from the area are linked to the Cuyahoga River.

Van Campen Hall

Van Campen Hall was haunted in the 1970s by Nathan Richards, a spirit who contacted students through a Ouija board reading, according to “Haunted Ohio IV.” Richards claimed to have been born in the 1830s and was hanged for murder in the 1850s. The book said the spirit created “poltergeist-like activity” in Korb and Van Campen Halls.

Masonic Temple

The Masonic Temple was built by the original Kent family in the 1800s, and William Kent lived there with his wife, Kittie. On May 26, 1876, there was an explosion from a kerosene stove that severely burned Kittie and led to her death the following day. Richele Charlton, who leads the Kent Stage’s annual ghost walk, said locals have reported apparitions of a woman dressed in antique clothes in spots around the mansion.

Editor’s Note: Some of the above locations are private property, and visitors must seek permission before entering property to check out suspected paranormal activity.

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].