From The Other Paper, October 9-15, 2003


October 9-15, 2003
By Chad Painter

Patt Altevogt believes in ghosts.

She has owned the Greater Columbus Antique Mall with her husband, Fred, since 1979, and she's convinced the building shelters a number of antique souls as well.

One occurrence happened two weeks ago, when she heard children playing with old toy cars in an upstairs room. There wasn't anybody in the building except her and an employee--an employee with no toy cars, we might add.

"I was sitting on the bench, the lights were off and it was quiet," Altevogt said. "I heard the children playing, and I said, 'I hear something up the front stairs.'"

That's when the employee said that he'd been hearing the same thing too, but didn't want to say anything.

Then there's the security system. When it's tripped, microphones start recording. Altevogt said she hears thumping on the tapes, but when she and Fred arrive at the store, nothing has been disturbed.

"We finally quit coming to check things out," she said.

The building, at 1045 S. High St., was built as a private residence in the late 1800s, she said. It housed two different funeral homes in the 1920s and '30s, and an Elks Lodge from the '40s to the '70s.

Some customers won't go into one room upstairs because they feel like they're being choked there. Before escorting The Other Paper into the room, Altevogt reassuringly said, "I've never felt anything in here."

Altevogt said that employees have seen a tall man with a handlebar mustache wearing a brown suit (matching the description of a photograph of the original embalmer), a woman walking down a back hallway wearing a Gone With the Wind-era yellow desk, and a man wearing a black cape. Upon seeing the black-caped man a second time, one employee promptly quit.

Another employee swears a ghost brushed past her twice, Altevogt said. Yet another saw an orb come out of a wall, pass over him and head down a hallway.

"Everybody that works here has stories," Fred Altevogt said.

He has one himself. On Thursdays, he said, there's a distinct aroma of Italian food near an old pop machine (which happens to sit a few feet from a bench where people sometimes hear a couple of old ladies talking).

"I used to get spooked, but I've gotten used to it," Patt Altevogt said. "Things have been happening for 15 years. New things come. Old things die off."

Tammy Heimerl, an Antique Mall employee, still gets spooked. She said that she can't go into a back room because it smells like death: "It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck."

She also doesn't like to go into the attic, although Altevogt said nothing has ever happened there. Maybe not, but Heimerl said she always thinks someone is watching her when she's up there: "I fly down those steps."

Despite all this, Altevogt has decided against having the building ghostproofed.

"I thought about having someone come in and bless it," she said, "but I think it adds to the charm."

Altevogt expects more charming hauntings, and soon.

"Any time we talk about it, something happens," she said. "Something will probably happen tonight."

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