One of the most haunted places in the United States is also one of the least known. Sometimes classified as a “secret haunt,” Willoughby Coal has no shortage of spirits or spooky stories. While it made the number ten spot in our book, America’s Most Haunted: Secrets of Famous Paranormal Places, it’s definitely number one in our hearts.
The Haunted Housewives call Willoughby Coal our home haunt. It will be our office and base of operation, as well as the office of theWilloughby Ghost Walk. During business hours it’s still a working hardware store, but after dark it belongs to the spirits.
After a trial run in 2014, the Haunted Housewives (in conjunction with the owners) have decided to begin public and private ghost hunts at Willoughby Coal. Our first is Friday, April 26th. This will be a small group investigation guided by the Haunted Housewives. We can’t wait to share our experiences and witness those of our guests!
Willoughby Coal sits on the most historic property in town. It’s right next to the railroad tracks and adjacent to the river. This was the first area developed when the town of Willoughby was still known as Chagrin. It was at one time a flour mill, a stage coach inn, and even a candle factory. But for the last century it has been a coal and supply company.
The property has seen its share of heartache and tragedy. In 1943, former owner Don Norris died on the property under mysterious circumstances. His lifeless body was discovered by the front door, broken and bloody, apparently from a fall from the third floor window. His ghost is one of many that we believe haunt the place.
Our past investigations have yielded interesting findings, which include numerous EVPs, phantom footsteps, weird light anomalies, and the ever-creepy shadow figures that lurk in the corners. Doors open and close by themselves, batteries drain unexpectedly, and eerie disembodied voices have been heard as well.
From the outside, people have seen faces in the windows. This odd phenomenon occurs so often that we encourage visitors to take pictures whenever possible. One of the best photographic findings of possible paranormal activity occurred during a ghost walk of which I was the tour guide.
A bizarre ghostly face can be seen in photographs taken by one of our guests. They were of different parts of the first floor, taken from different angles. This face showed up when a guest asked the spirit of Mr. Norris to show himself to the crowd. If I wasn’t present when it happened I might not believe it, but I can swear that these pictures are 100% genuine. It was an experience I will never forget.
Is this the face of Don Norris, former owner of Willoughby Coal? Is he haunting the building, seeking justice for his untimely death? Does his spirit remain on the property keeping watch over his former business? Is he alone or is he one of many ghosts that haunt this amazing historic building?
One theory for the plethora of spirits that seem to be haunting Willoughby Coal is the enormous collection of antiques kept in the building. If ghosts can attach themselves to objects, especially personal items, then there is sure to be at least of few ghostly entities roaming the first and second floors of the store.
Rusty antiques hang from the rafters and walls, occupying every corner of the building. It’s a bizarre display of history, like a time capsule that has exploded, scattering its contents about for all to see.
We can’t pinpoint exactly how many spirits are haunting Willoughby Coal, nor can we positively identify them. We don’t know why they stay or what their stories are – but we are happy to meet them. With a little luck and a lot of perseverance, we can discovery their histories, find out their messages, and learn the secrets they want to share.
The Haunted Housewives invite you to join us at a future event at Willoughby Coal. Our public events typically sell out quickly so please check our website for future dates, or contact us to book a night for a private ghost hunt.
I will share experiences from our upcoming investigation here and on our Facebook page next week.
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