Marion’s Ruins, Part II

Last year, we published a photo essay about Marion’s “ruins”, and the post garnered so much interest that we’ve decided to do a follow up photo essay. You may have driven past some of these places dozens of  times and never known that they represent interesting bits of Marion’s history. Other places, while not necessarily historically significant, have achieved a certain sort of local notoriety simply because their decrepitude has made them hard to miss. Although many of these buildings, churches and houses scattered around Marion County are probably beyond saving (and some, truth be told, shouldn’t be saved), we believe that these places as well as the stories that often go with them offer a unique take on Marion County.

originalbrewerybuildings
The Marion Brewing and Bottling Company was located on Bellfontaine Avenue between the railroad tracks. The Leffler and Bland Company – the same company that erected the Marion County courthouse – began construction in 1895, and the brewery began selling its beer early the following year. For almost 25 years, the brewery did brisk business in and around Marion. However, with the passage of state and federal prohibition acts, the brewery was out of business by the beginning of the 1920s. From the late 1930s until the 1970s, the Betty Zane company produced popcorn products in the old brewery. After Betty Zane ceased production, the building fell into disuse, and in 1980 the main building was demolished. A more complete story of the Marion Brewing and Bottling Company can be found here. Photo courtesy of Larry Henne.
breweryI
This photo, which appeared in the February 18th, 1980, edition of The Marion Star, shows the former Marion Brewing and Bottling Company building (minus the upper portions) shortly before it was razed.
This building, now used for storage, is one of the last remaining buildings which were once part of the Marion Brewing and Bottling Company.
This building, now used for storage, is one of the few remaining buildings which were once part of the Marion Brewing and Bottling Company.
An forlorn-looking house on one of Marion County's busiest roads, Harding Highway East.
An forlorn-looking house on one of Marion County’s busiest roads, Harding Highway East.
This seemingly unremarkable and derelict house, located behind the old Sawyer Sanatorium (now Elite Apartments), actually represents an interesting little piece of Marion history. According to local historian Stuart Haley, this house once belonged to Charles and Mae Sawyer and pre-dates the Civil War. For those who don't know, Dr. Sawyer was Warren G. Harding's personal physician, both before and during Harding's presidency. Sawyer is also somewhat notorious for his misdiagnosis of Harding's coronary condition that eventually led to the President’s death in San Francisco in 1923.
This seemingly unremarkable and derelict house located behind the old Sawyer Sanatorium (now Elite Apartments) actually represents an interesting little piece of Marion history. According to local historian Stuart Haley, this house once belonged to Charles and Mae Sawyer and pre-dates the Civil War. For those who don’t know, Dr. Sawyer was Warren G. Harding’s personal physician, both before and during Harding’s presidency. Sawyer is also somewhat notorious for his misdiagnosis of the coronary condition that eventually led to the President’s death in San Francisco in 1923.
Patients who were suffering from physical and emotional maladies were treated at Dr. Sawyer's sanatorium. In this old postcard, Dr. Sawyer's house is visible at the back. Interestingly, the house originally faced Main Street but was moved to it's present location around 1901 to accommodate the sanatorium's expansion. This postcard is courtesy of Mike Crane's very cool collection of old Marion photos and postcards.
Patients who were suffering from physical and emotional maladies were treated at Dr. Sawyer’s sanatorium on South Main Street. In this old postcard, Dr. Sawyer’s house is clearly visible at the back. Interestingly, the house originally faced Main Street but was moved to it’s present location around 1901 to accommodate the sanatorium’s expansion. This postcard is courtesy of Mike Crane, who has a very cool collection of old Marion photos and postcards.
 This abandoned bridge, located in Tully Township, crosses the Olentangy River and is visible from Morral-Kirkpatrick Road East. It dates to 1876 and was constructed by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company.
This abandoned bridge, located in Tully Township, crosses the Olentangy River and is visible from Morral-Kirkpatrick Road East. It dates to 1876 and was constructed by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company.
This structure, located near Grandview Estates north of town, is called a coal tipple, and many years ago its purpose was to supply steam locomotives with both coal for their fireboxes and water for the boilers. According to Harry Titus, the structure was saved from demolition when an American Eagle nest was discovered in it. In any case, the coal tipple was once a popular hang out where local teenagers would to drink and flirt and generally behave recklessly while trains raced below them.
This structure, located near Grandview Estates north of town, is called a coal tipple, and many years ago its purpose was to supply steam locomotives with both coal for their fireboxes and water for the boilers. According to Harry Titus, the structure was saved from demolition when an American eagle nest was discovered in it. In any case, the coal tipple was once a popular hang-out where local teenagers would go to drink and flirt and generally behave recklessly while trains raced below them.
For over 100 years Marion Grain and Supply sold livestock feed, field grain, fertilizer and other agricultural goods at its North Vine Street location. Although the business passed through many owners and had different names over the years, it remained in more or less continuous operation until closing its doors in the 1980s. Although the building is not abandoned, it has certainly seen better days.
For over 100 years Marion Grain and Supply sold livestock feed, field grain, fertilizer and other agricultural goods at its North Vine Street location. Although the business passed through many owners and had different names over the years, it remained in more or less continuous operation until closing its doors in the 1980s. Although the building is not abandoned, it has certainly seen better days.
This photo of Marion Grain and Supply, which appears in the Marion County 1979 History, dates from around 1900.
This photo of Marion Grain and Supply, which appears in the Marion County 1979 History, dates from around 1900.
The abandoned Grand Prarire Elementary School out on Marseilles-Galion Road East. Construction began in 1915, and it closed in 1990.
The abandoned Grand Prarire Elementary School out on Marseilles-Galion Road East. Construction began in 1915, and it closed in 1990.
Both vandals and nature have taken their toll on the school.
Both vandals and the elements have taken their toll on the school.
The former gymnasium.
The former gymnasium.
3. It doesn't take nature long to have its way with a house once it has been abandoned as the condition of this house on Blaine Avenue proves.
It doesn’t take nature long to have its way with a house once it has been abandoned as the condition of this house on Blaine Avenue proves.
According to Willis Thomas' book The Schools of Marion County, Ohio, this building, located near the intersection of Marion-Bucyrus Road and Morral-Kirkpatrick Road, was once known as the "Hill School" and dates to at least 1869. The school was later owned by the Mitchell family, and they ran various businesses (e.g. repairing chainsaws, selling wood-burning stoves) out of it for years.
According to Willis Thomas’ book The Schools of Marion County, Ohio, this building, located near the intersection of Marion-Bucyrus Road and Morral-Kirkpatrick Road, was once known as the “Hill School” and dates to at least 1869. The school was later owned by the Mitchell family, and they ran various businesses (e.g. repairing chainsaws, selling wood-burning stoves) out of it for years.
The overgrown front door to the old Mitchell place.
The overgrown front door to the old Mitchell place.
Located on the corner of Pole Lane Road and Likens Road, this church, known by many as Likens Chapel, dates to 1917 and replaced the original church that stood at this location. During WWII, the US government took much of the land in that area for the Scioto Ordinance Plant, and the church was forced to close its doors. By 1950, however, church services were once again taking place there. Nevertheless, by the 1980s the congregation had dwindled to such an extent that the church disbanded. Since then, the church has generally stood empty (though at one point a family was using the church as a private residence).
Located on the corner of Pole Lane Road and Likens Road, this church, known by many as Likens Chapel, dates to 1917 and replaced the original church that stood at this location. During WWII, the US government took much of the land in that area for the Scioto Ordinance Plant, and the church was forced to close its doors. By 1950, however, church services were once again taking place there. Nevertheless, by the 1980s the congregation had dwindled to such an extent that the church disbanded. Since then, the church has generally stood empty (though at one point a family was using the church as a private residence).

As always, if you find any errors in the above information or would like to add something to it, please drop us a line at spooks@spookymarion.com. Also, we would like to extend a special thank you to the “Growing up in Marion, Ohio” Facebook group whose members were happy to provide information about many of these places.

 

 

The Salem House

Note: We hope you like this story about the Salem House, but we also hope you don’t actually go out to the Salem House. We hate the thought of any of our readers getting hurt and/or arrested out there!

First things first: The Salem House and the Mongoloid House are not the same place. A lot of people (including me) have confused the two places over the years.

The Salem House is actually a collection of buildings located, unsurprisingly, on Salem Road just north of Marion Cardington Road East. It occupies a place in local lore as a ‘haunted house,’ though how it got that reputation is unclear.

Facts about the Salem House are few and far between. According to the Marion County auditor’s office, the property is owned by a Mr. Kramer of Powell, Ohio. A note attached to the property file states that, “All buildings are…in very poor condition.” Furthermore, the house on the property burned almost to the ground at some point, and it was later razed completely.

This 2011 photo shows the burned out remains of the house on Salem Road. This house is no longer there.

Spook stories about the Salem House, however, are fairly widespread in Marion County

One of the more common stories surrounding the place goes like this one, courtesy of Kari Hall.

The man was a Civil War veteran and he and his wife couldn’t have kids. Suddenly she got pregnant and they ended up having two kids. During a fight they were having, she told him the kids weren’t his, and so he killed them in the barn with a shotgun and then killed his wife in the basement before killing himself.

Likewise, the following story, which an anonymous reader submitted, clearly has a lot in common with the one above:

When we went to the house on Salem Road, one of my friends told me the story about how a Civil War veteran had owned the property (in the 1800s) before going crazy and murdering his wife and children and then hanging himself in the barn. In the 1950s another family moved into the house, and the spirit of the soldier remained and didn’t want anyone living there so he drove the new father mad, and he, in turn, killed his family and then himself.

[When we went out there] we walked into and through the first story of the house. There were a lot of odd things spray painted on the wall, most of them negative towards Jesus and God and glorifying Satan. This was 11 or 12 years ago. In any case, we didn’t see anything supernatural.

So what’s the source of these stories?

Long before this web site, Andy Henderson posted a little piece on his excellent web site, Forgotten Ohio, about the Salem House (though he also confuses it with the Mongoloid House):

The story goes that a Civil War veteran who lived there killed his wife and children and then hung himself in the barn. Today if you visit the barn you might hear the strange noises which many report. The house is also said to be haunted, although it was merely built on the site of the murder house and is not original.

Andy, who isn’t from Marion, told me he received his information anonymously and has no idea about its origins. Obviously, the story on his website shares similarities with the stories above. This begs the question: Were people in Marion first telling the story about a murderous Civil War veteran before someone submitted it to Forgotten Ohio? Or did Forgotten Ohio publish the story first, and then people in Marion started repeating it? It’s hard to say.

The sheds and barns on the Salem House property.

There are other stories that are not variations of the one appearing on the Forgotten Ohio website, though they, too, have a supernatural bent. Take, for example, this story which someone submitted anonymously:

Some people claim that if you drive out on Salem Road, turn off the engine and sit there, these people/spirits would come and rock the car and try to get in. The car wouldn’t start back up until they left or decided to leave you alone.

Other people have talked about their personal experiences at the Salem House. Heather Ingle, for example, says:

I went the house in around 1994. The house was standing and walls were all intact. There was graffiti on the walls like “Leave while you can.” and “This is hell.” I looked around [and was] scared out of my mind. I remember there being a basement but no stairs [leading down to the basement] and none [lying collapsed below] in the basement.

Then in 2009 I went back to the house. At the time I didn’t know it was the [same] house. We were just out with friends and told us they knew where a haunted house was. So we pulled into the driveway, and I told everyone I had been there before. We didn’t get out but just took pics. When looking at the pics [later], we could see orbs.

For others, their experiences at the Salem House were much more mundane. Take this example, courtesy of a woman who went there in 1997:

I attended Pleasant High School and some friends and I were bored (like always around those parts). I had just moved to the school, so I hadn’t heard of the house. My friends wanted to show me, so we went to Salem Road.

The house hadn’t burned yet. It was kind of unimpressive, really, but it gave us something to do. I remember the walls having stupid things written on them, probably intending to scare people. Nothing happened while we were there, but some of the other girls got scared so we left.

Mike Z’s photo from January of 2014.

Nicholas Peer, who visited the property back in February of 2011, had this to say:

We went out there on February 21st at around midnight. We pulled up in the driveway, turned off the car and walked out to the barns. We went through them, but nothing happened until we went into the basement of the house. That’s when we saw a head peaking through the window and I heard a noise. We freaked out and ran back to the car. Before we got to the car, I turned around and saw a black figure by the barn. My buddy tried starting up his car quite a few times, but it wouldn’t start. We had to push it down the road and then it started.

In the end, it’s easy to dismiss stories like Nicholas’ as nothing more than the product of overactive teenage imaginations. However, in early 2014, I received an e-mail from Mike Z. with an intriguing photo attached. The image appears to show a face staring out at him from the ruins of the burned-out house. Regardless of whether or not one believes the Salem House is haunted, the photo is pretty darn creepy.

- Josh Simpkins