THE GARFIELD HOUSE
High on a hill overlooking Garfield Road in Hiram, Ohio is a stately mansion that has stood for more than a century. It has seen its share of tragedy and triumph over the years and its share of occupants too. But there is something a little different about this house... it is not your average historical home. This house is different because many of the former residents choose to stay on here past their time.... even after death. The house was built back in 1836 and was turned into a boarding house that same year for faculty members of the, what was known until 1867 as, the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute.
James Garfield studied at the Institute from 1851 to 1854. Although he was only a student at the time, Garfield would go on to serve as the twentieth president of the United States. He would also be the second president to be assassinated while in office. Two years after Garfield's graduation, he returned to Hiram, Ohio as a teacher and principal, He moved into the boarding house and later became president of the school. In 1856, Garfield married his wife, Lucretia, a frail, religious woman. The pair did not make a match and their marriage was not a happy one. The couple lived in the house until 1861, when Garfield left to fight in the Civil War. Lucretia moved back to her parent's home.
The house had several owners until 1907, when it was purchased by Marcia Henry, a professor of English, Latin and Greek. Her father had been a close friend of James Garfield. When Henry died in 1858, she willed the house to Hiram College, with the stipulation that her nephew, Charles Henry, could live in it. He chose not to do so and gave the house to the college. It was sold again in 1961 to Bruno and Dorothy Mallone, who had the house moved to its present location on Garfield Road.
Shortly after that, strange things began to happen in the house. Lights began to behave erratically in the house and objects began moving when no one was near them. Things would fly across the room, burning candles would explode and the strong smell of cigars would often overpower people in certain parts of the house..... it should be noted that President Garfield was especially fond of cigars.
Psychics who have investigated the house claim to have found it to be filled with ghosts. One of the spirits is believed to be that of Almeda Booth, a student, and later a teacher, at the college. Almeda had lived in the boarding house when Garfield had first come to the school and had fallen in love with him. There was no evidence to ever suggest that Garfield returned her affections, although curiously, after Garfield and Lucretia were married, Almeda Booth was often found in their company. Could the two have been reunited in death?
It is strongly believed that James Garfield has also returned to haunt the house. Strange pieces of his distinctive handwriting have been found in the house, the fragrant odor of his cigars often pervade the place and he has been contacted during seances that have been held here. The general impression is that Garfield is very unhappy in the afterlife. He believes that he was betrayed by close friends who planned the assassination. Will he ever find peace?
They are not thought to be the only ghosts in the house either. It is surmised that Lucretia Garfield also remains behind, along with Marcia Henry and a boy named "Andrew", who claims to have died many years ago. It is not known for sure who this "Andrew" may be, but Marcia Henry is no mystery... she had told her nephew that she "would be back" before she died.
And they may not be the only ones here either... the front door of the house often opens and closes on its own and neighbors have even noticed the previously locked door standing wide open while the occupants of the house have been away.
Update: Recent news about the Garfield house
Jocelyn Carlson writes:"I am from Painesville, Ohio and was reading about the Garfield hauntings. I live about 15 minutes away from the house. The city of Mentor also erected a park in honor of James Garfield. The city of Mentor recently spent I think, but am not sure $2 million dollars restoring the house. It will reopen to the public in July. I visited the house before it was remodeled four years ago when I lived in Mentor. One of the local legends says that the ghost of Garfield's wife haunts the bedroom. With my tour the bedroom was blocked off and you could only look inside from behind a velvet rope. She is also said to be somewhere in the back yard but once again, we weren't allowed to go there. A new staircase had been built because the original had been too dangerous to walk on but it is still there to look at, that also is said to have a ghost there. Now that the city has completely remodeled the old house, they returned it to an almost exact replica of how it looked before. A couple years ago they painted it white, but originally it was blue...so they painted it blue. It's a really beautiful house that a lot of money and time was spent on and I can't wait for it to be reopened."
The Garfield House is a private residence in Hiram, Ohio, which is located in the
northeast region of the state. The house is located on a hill overlooking Garfield Road.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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