The Lofts

Owned and operated by the Crown Plaza, The Lofts Suites and Hotel is visited by the same woman's ghost like clockwork. She has been seen in the basement, on the second floor, and--most often--in the stairwell leading up to the second floor. She wears a long black dress and old-fashioned lace-up boots. Extremely skittish, the ghost woman will flee if you come near her, and will disappear if you look directly at her, but employees have a method for catching a glimpse of her: they look at a red pipe on the stairwell landing, and frequently see her out of the corner of an eye.

The specter, whose identity is something of a mystery, is almost certainly the same woman who appears in a group photograph taken in front of the building sometime before 1900. In it she wears the black dress and is holding a baby. Countless witnesses have identified her as the ghost of The Lofts.

Some years this hotel is included on the Columbus Landmarks Foundation's ghost tours. What follows is Carole Mauro's story, told to me after she took the tour in 2006.

The general manager of the hotel split our group of 20 into two groups because we couldn't all fit in the stairwell at the same time. I was the first person in the second group. She took the first group into the stairwell advising them to look at the red pipe on the landing between the two floors and we might see the ghost out of the corner of our eye. She said that the ghost disappeared if you looked at her straight on. This was my third ghost tour in eight days and I was half listening. The first group entered and returned from the stairwell without event. It is the second group's turn and I happened to be closest to the door. The general manager says, remember to look at the red pipe on the landing.

I walk through the door and turn left to begin climbing the metal stairs. I find the red pipe in the corner of the landing and see someone dressed in a long black dress with lace up boots about half way the second flight. I think to myself there must be an employee using the steps and run up the steps after them to confirm what I see. When I turn the corner of the steps on the landing, there is nothing on the next flight of steps. There is no noise of boots running up the metal steps, no dooring swinging shut behind anyone leaving the stairwell. Nothing. I turn to my friend who was directly behind me on the steps and ask her if she saw "that." She said she saw a black boot on the steps. I could have convinced myself that I saw something only because I wanted to, but my friend saw it too.

I was getting a little freaked out in the stairwell and the general manager called up for us to meet the rest of the group on the second floor of the hotel. We emerge from the stairs and she asks the group if anyone saw anything. My friend points to me. The general manager asks me what I saw and I described a figure dressed in a long black dress with lace up boots holding something in front of her. She asks me to follow her around the elevator shaft to look at one of the many prints that the Columbus Metropolitan Library has donated to the hotel. She shows me a group picture of many people standing in front of the building before 1900. She asks me to pick out the person I saw on the stairs. I pointed to a woman in the front row wearing a black dress, holding a baby. The general manager says that that is the same woman that she has seen between 10-15 times in the stairwell.

I have been looking for about five years just as a hobby, but Saturday night was the first time in my life that I have seen a ghost.