The Castle

Marietta's Castle is a huge Victorian mansion located at 418 Fourth Street. It was built in 1855 by Melvin Calvin Clarke, who later lost his life at Antietam. John Newton purchased it in 1860, then sold it to Edward White Nye, a newspaper editor, in 1887. In 1888 Nye died, leaving the house to his wife, who then gave it to her daughter, Lucy Nye Davis. Davis's daughter, Jessie Davis Lindsay, lived in the Castle for 87 years, dying five days before her 100th birthday.

The Castle is one of Marietta's better-known haunted buildings. It certainly makes an impression, with its massive eight-sided turret and iron-gated driveway. It's located in the Historic District of one of Ohio's most historic cities. Melvin C. Clarke, local attorney and dedicated abolitionist, built the place in 1855 to make an impression, but he probably didn't think its mere appearance would inspire so many goundless ghost legends.

That's how it is, though. Any old building (particularly with a mansard roof) evokes thoughts of the Addams Family and the classic "haunted house." And it is hard to deny that, to modern eyes, the place is creepy. A reclusive woman named Jessie Lindsay lived here for decades, dying just days shy of her one hundredth birthday--and inadvertently gave birth to the die-hard legend of a witch in residence. (A woman in period garb is often sighted walking from window to window.) It's a sad thought, though, really, because Ms. Lindsay was almost certainly just a lonely old woman who could have used a kind word or two.

Not that she wasn't a bit of a weirdo. She had a second-story bedroom but spent most of her time ensconced in the library, where a double-door entrance allowed her a kind of sally port through which to view potential callers before deciding whether or not to let them in. (Often she chose not to.)

A group of docents (overseers and caretakers of the historic landmark the Castle has become) ended an October meeting by ascending to the top of the tower, where most had never been. (It's one of the few parts of the building off-limits to tourists.) Getting there requires passing through a second-floor bedroom to gain access to the attic stairs--the bedroom where former owner John Newton lived and, ultimately, died without warning in 1866. The group of docents found themselves atop the turret with the trap door they'd come through inexplicably locked, despite the fact that it's never kept locked, and they were only saved by a perceptive motorist who noticed their gestures and heard their calls for help and stopped to open the trap from inside.

The Girl Scouts have a long relationship with The Castle as a place for sleepovers, and many have returned with tales of constantly pacing footfalls on the second floor, right above their heads. One even claims she heard a ghastly moaning sound.

Today the place has been restored to the pinnacle of its grandeur, which is no small accomplishment. During the renovations, a member of the contruction crew sighted an otherworldly figure through a window and refused to return to the job.

The Castle is avaiable for tours and houses a museum of Victorian-era furnishings. A word of warning: In October, the staff is not above putting a dressmaker's dummy in an upstairs room and illuminating it for maximum spooky effect. So don't be too easily fooled. Nevertheless, if anyplace has ghosts lingering in its halls, Marietta's famous Castle is as likely a candidate for a haunting as any in the Buckeye State.



Cartmell, Connie. Ghosts of Marietta. Marietta: Marty's Print Shop, 1996.

Kachuba, John B. Ghosthunting Ohio. Cincinnati: Emmis Books, 2004. pp. 211-216.