Marion’s Ruins: A Photo Essay

Like a lot of cities across America, Marion has its share of neglected and decaying buildings and houses. Since we, the spooks at Spooky Marion, are enamored with all things neglected and decaying, we thought it would be interesting to put together a collection of photographs documenting a few of these places as well as their stories.

While some of the structures pictured here are probably still salvageable – local landmarks like the Union Station and the Harding Hotel are proof that such run-down buildings can be restored and put to good use – others are probably beyond saving and will be demolished in the coming years. Of course, this is especially unfortunate for the buildings that are historically significant

These photos are by no means a comprehensive collection of Marion’s “ruins” but rather the beginning of a collection we hope will grow. That said, anyone with photos (new or old), ideas for photos or information about photos already shown here should leave a comment below or drop us a line at spooks@spookymarion.com. Last but not least, a special thanks to Kirk Wyckoff, who was kind enough to contribute many of the photos shown below.

This once-grand house, located at 247 North Prospect Street, originally belonged to the Kellys, a prominent local family that later included Judge Robert Kelly. According to local resident, Phyllis Ingmire, the Kelly family had the house built in the 1870s. It is now a rental property. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The construction of the Prospect and State Street overpasses in the 1960s made many of the houses on both streets less desirable places to live, and many have fallen into disrepair. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
This house, located on the corner of Blaine Avenue and West Church Street, has certainly seen better days. However, the craftsmanship that went into its construction is still evident even now. It must have been a sight to behold at one time.
Founded in 1904 by W.H. Houghton, the Houghton Sulky Company built world-class sulkies (lightweight, two-wheeled carts, usually horse-drawn) for 103 years before finally closing its doors in 2007 due to financial difficulties. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
In his book about Marion, Stuart Koblentz writes that the oldest part of the building was originally a Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church. However, after Marion’s rail lines were built, the location was no longer suited for quiet church services. The structure was later used as an industrial manufacturing space, first by the Huber Manufacturing Company and later by the Houghton Sulky Company. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
An advertisement for Houghton Sulky that appeared in Time Magazine on March 15th, 1937, stated: “Houghton Sulky – Proudly manufacturing the world’s finest quality show horse vehicles. Quality is a hallmark of Houghton training and show vehicles. Traditional quality is a blend of elegance of design, the highest quality materials, and demanding standards of craftsmanship. Houghton Sulky carries a full line of carts for horses, ponies, and miniature horses.” Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
According to Aaron Turner’s website Old Ohio Schools, the Tully Township School out in Martel was built in 1915 but closed its doors in 1987. The building, however, is not abandoned. When this photograph was taken in late 2012, people were living in at least part of the building. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The Tully Township School shortly after its completion. Photo courtesy of Aaron Turner.
The former Courtesy Budget Inn, located at 1361 Harding Highway East, was once a modestly priced motel but has been sitting derelict for the past few years. The rooms that occupied the east side of the complex have already been razed, and it seems reasonable to assume that the rest will not escape the wrecking ball much longer. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The motel is located in a heavily-trafficked part of Marion, a fact that’s likely to appeal to developers in the coming years. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
The Courtesy Budget Inn during its more respectable days. Photo courtesy of Randy Winland.
Although originally a Mansfield-based company, the Isaly name played a part in Marion life for many years. This particular building, located at 202 North Prospect Street, is all that remains of a group of buildings that housed the dairy plant as well as the Isaly offices. Photo courtesy of Larry Henne.
Brian Butko, author of Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly’s, writes that this particular location was in use from 1915 to 1947. He goes on to write that the Isaly brand began to decline in the 1960s and disappeared completely from Marion in the 1990s when The Isaly Shoppe went out of business. Photo courtesy of Kirk Wyckoff.
This building, located at the end of Rose Avenue (past the halfway house), is a bit of a mystery. Although the words “Steam Shovel Co.” are still visible on the west side of the building, its purpose and when it was in operation remain unclear.
The same building seen from the east or Leader Street side.

Rocky’s Cyclery and…Ghosts?

Rocky’s Cyclery and Fitness, located at 239 East Church Street, is a Marion institution. Like the Jer-zee or the OK Café or the Palace Theatre, it’s one of those places that seems like it’s always been there, and it would be hard imagining Marion without it. The building, however, has been home to a few different businesses over the years, one of which might be an explanation of sorts for the stories I recently heard while interviewing a few of the bike mechanics who work up there. But more on that in a minute…

rockys bicycles
Rocky’s Cyclery and Fitness has been at this location for nearly forty years.

Viewed from the side, one is struck by how big and rambling Rocky’s actually is. Just off of the sales area in the front of the building is owner Carol Poston’s office and a well-equipped workshop, both of which most regular customers have wandered into at one time or another. There’s also an apartment on the second floor. Anyone venturing a bit deeper into the building to, say, the dimly-lit rooms in the basement or the squeaky-floored rooms behind the workshop will most certainly find a great number of bikes as well as the parts needed to service them.  And just maybe, one might also come across a ghost or two.

The tire room where, according to bike mechanic Jessie Greene, the tires have a habit of moving by themselves.

Jessie Green, a Tri-Rivers student who’s been working at the shop since the beginning of the year, has a tire problem – specifically, they don’t want to stay put. On the day I was at Rocky’s, he took me down into the basement where the tire room is located. Jessie said that often and without explanation the tires move. “I’ll leave the tire room with everything where it should be and when I go down there again, the tires will be scattered or in piles. I’ll come back upstairs and be like, ‘Who moved the tires?’ And nobody’s been down there.” Another mechanic, Thaddeus Smith, says the door leading to the rooms behind the workshop routinely opens and closes by itself, though whether it’s just a draft or something more ethereal is something he wouldn’t speculate on. Annette Stark, a former tenant in the apartment over the store, says that while she was living there she and her daughters always felt as if someone were watching them in the hallway leading to the apartment. “I would [also] hear what sounded like footsteps coming from the attic.”

Rocky Rhoades, the shop’s namesake, opened his first bike shop in 1972 in downtown Marion before moving to the current building in 1974. In 2003, having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Rocky sold the business to Glen Poston, himself a passionate and devoted bike rider, and Glen’s wife, Carol.

Rocky’s was once home to a funeral home, as evidenced by this 1929 Marion phone book listing and advertisement.

Before Rocky bought the building, the property had been, according to Stuart Koblentz, the private residence of a family named Miller and, according to Carrie Hutchman, Indoe’s, which was a store offering “heating, appliances and televisions.” More interestingly, according to Hutchman, “Between 1929 and 1931 it was the Hess, Markert & Axe Funeral Home. From 1934-1938 it was known as the Axe Funeral Home, L.A. Axe, director.”*

Naturally, it would be convenient to argue that it was during the building’s years as a funeral home that a few restless spirits settled there. For her part, Carol remains skeptical. However, she says that, “if there are a few ghosts, I like to think they’re friendly ones.” Or maybe just mischievous ones who delight in unnerving bike mechanics by hiding their tires or shutting doors on them.

*For those readers who are members of Facebook and are interested in Marion’s history, I recommend becoming a member of the “Growing up in Marion, Ohio” Facebook group. The nearly 3,000 members have a wealth of information about our hometown as well as a willingness to share it. They were certainly helpful in the development of this story.