City Quotient: Who is Columbus' most famous ghost?

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

In the spirit of the season, what (who?) is Columbus' most famous ghost?

Yikes. There are so many alleged Columbus ghosts it would be easier to list the places that aren't haunted by one specter or another. The haunted ones are pretty diverse: Capital University and the Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley, Briggs High School, Buckeye Steel on the South Side, the old School for the Blind (now the Columbus Health Department) on Parsons Avenue. Downtown? The Elevator Brewery (old Clock Restaurant), Engine House 16 (the fire museum on North Fourth Street) and the Jury Room on Mound Street. Also the Kelton House on East Town Street, the former Lazarus store Downtown, and Green Lawn Abbey and Cemetery (of course).

This impressive list includes the ghost that has to be first among equals: the one that "got in" at humorist James Thurber's home at 77 Jefferson Ave. It starred in his story "The Night the Ghost Got In," set in November 1915 while Thurber and his extended family lived there. That house is now the Thurber House and Museum, where you can visit and get the whole story.

CQ happens to know the Thurber House really is haunted. Before it was restored, a local historian and a TV reporter wanted to visit the boarded-up house for a story, but no one showed up to let them in. As they sat and pondered, a plywood panel suddenly fell off a first-floor window, so they climbed in and got the story. Was it a coincidence? Or a cooperative ghost?

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to, and the answer might appear in a future column.