Take a supernatural walk through downtown Kent

Dominique Lyons


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“Every old house has a ghost, and every ghost has a thousand stories,” said Merle Mollenkopf, Kent poet laureate and final tour guide of Kent’s downtown ghost walk.

I smiled at that, glancing down at my still freezing left hand after my very own ghastly ghost encounter in the Pufferbelly’s upstairs studio.

Spin-More Records

The first stop on the walk was Spin-More Records on East Main Street, where we learned about Josephine, the young woman who haunts the apartments above the store. She lived there in the late ‘50s to early ‘60s and was known to have a lot of guests.

“She’s not a bad ghost. She’s not going to hurt anyone, she doesn’t want to scare anybody, she just really wants to have a good time,” said Douglas Hite, senior political science major and the walk’s first tour guide.


Our second stop was Empire, the mystical henna shop a few buildings down from Spin-More Records. It was built in 1876 over another building that was burned. Luna Hart, the proprietor of Empire, said the memory of the fire manifests itself in the Empire as “the smell of smoke and intense panic.” One of the ghosts, affectionately named Charlie, can be found in the basement “kicked back in a rocking chair smoking a cigar.” The second most active is Alice Ann, a little girl who Hart suspects died by falling down the stairs. She’s been seen playing in the back room and has a particular obsession with Morgana Hart, Luna Hart’s daughter and Empire employee. “Morgana gets touched a lot,” Luna Hart said. “She gets her clothes pulled a lot. She’ll have the feeling that there’s somebody just kind of hanging on to her clothing. She’s had ribbons stroked from her hair.” There’s also Aunt Mary, a quiet middle-aged woman who watches over the store. And recently a cat has added itself to Empire’s roster, tripping up employees in true cat fashion.

Bailey Clegg & Associates

John Gouger was a thrifty man, but during the Great Depression, that penny-pinching attitude gave him an interesting quirk. He would gather all the money that didn’t go toward that week’s living expenses, put them in pickle jars and buried them in his backyard. Gouger eventually had a stroke, causing him to drag his leg like the grisly lead of a horror flick — before long, he died.

Not even bothering to let him rest in his grave for a single day, his children rushed to their father’s apartment and ransacked his backyard.

“Some people might think that maybe they could have waited a week or two,” said Devlin Charleton, our third storyteller. “Still, sometimes if you walk by late at night, you might be able to see Mr. Gouger staring back at you, looking for his pickle jars.”


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Star of the West Milling Company

In 1879, two brothers, Charles and Scott Williams, decided to go into the risky business of entrepreneurship. They built a grist mill that they dubbed the “Peerless Roller Mill” near the Cuyahoga River. When the building was finished, they hired a night watchman. “He worked here for so long,” said Ethan Simpson, the proctor of our fourth stop, “that he memorized the place by heart, so he would work with the lights off.” As he was using a man lift, he took a careless step and fell to his death. The night watchmen say they can still hear that first loyal guard patrolling his ward.

The Main Street Bridge

It was 1924, and four young boys, brothers Antonio, Giuseppe and Augustino Mittiga and cousin Joe Jliazzi built a raft to sail the high waters of the Cuyahoga. Unfortunately, their raft capsized and only Augustino was able to swim to safety, dragging his cousin Joe to the shore with him sputtering but, unlike his brothers, alive. Many people joined the effort to find the boys, including the police, who decided to “dynamite the river” in their attempt to find the drowned boys. “Several years later, a woman who was hanging out by the river enjoying herself saw two boys dressed rather oddly, very old fashioned, it was about the same time of the year, early spring, and she thought that they were playing way too close to the river,” said Aislinn Charlton-Dennis, fifth Ghost Walk narrator. “As she got up to warn them and call them back, they disappeared. Maybe you’ll see them again, when you’re out by yourself, perhaps, looking over the river.”

The Pufferbelly

Mrs. Elmer John Elgin haunts the upstairs studio of the Pufferbelly. When she was alive, she spent hours looking out at the railroad tracks, watching the passengers as they came and went. Sometimes, passengers would go to the North Tower, Kent’s first library, and tell her their stories. Since her death, there have been stories of people seeing her face in the window.

The second we crossed the threshold into the North Tower, I noticed a major temperature drop, but the hallway leading up to the room felt drafty so it stood to reason that the room would be cold. My left hand, though, was abnormally cold, much more so than my right, and every nerve in my body was straining toward the exit. As soon as I left the room, my head cleared and my nerves quieted, but my left hand still felt like a freezing wind had enveloped it.

Next time you’re strolling around Kent and you feel a brush of air on a cold night, it might just be one of these many spirits, trying to give you a taste of their world.

Contact Dominique Lyons at [email protected].