MARIETTA - It doesn't have to be Halloween to go on a ghost walk in Marietta.
You don't even have to believe in or be interested in the supernatural.
"It's a fun way to see downtown," said Lynne Sturtevant, owner of Hidden Marietta Ghost Trek, now in her fifth year of providing Friday night walking tours that delve into the stories of downtown. "It's a history-mystery tour."
Photo by Evan Bevins
Hidden Marietta Ghost Trek owner Lynne Sturtevant walks down the Union Street alley between Front and Second streets, a new stop on the tour this year. The alley doesn’t have its own ghost story, but it does provide a glimpse into the history of Marietta.
Yes, there are tales of supernatural phenomena like the Lafayette Hotel guests who returned to their room to find a belt taken from the woman's suitcase and wrapped around a pop can on the other side of the room.
"Other things are just interesting stories," Sturtevant said. "They're part of the texture of the town."
For example, "you can't talk about the history of Marietta without talking about the floods," she said.
Sturtevant has found the ghost angle can entice people, especially younger folks, who might not be too keen on hearing about the history of the Pioneer City. And the history interests some folks who might not usually seek out tales of the supernatural.
An average of 15 or 16 people gather for the tours on Friday nights at the fountain at Front and Greene streets from the first weekend in June through Halloween weekend, Sturtevant said. Sometimes there may only be a couple; on some occasions she's had 50 or 60.
"I have people who come on it every summer," she said, noting local residents and tourists take part.
The tour starts in the Lafayette, where guests and employees alike have reported a number of odd occurrences over the years, such as objects being moved around.
"Everybody is not crazy. Everybody is not making it up," said Sturtevant, who describes herself as an open-minded skeptic when it comes to the supernatural. "I hear too many things from people I think are perfectly rational, sane, normal people."
The tour continues up Front Street, with Sturtevant touching on stories about buildings like the Fine Art and Framing Gallery, which is said to be haunted by the former owner, who used to sit atop the roof and have a few drinks and was later found dead there after being missing for a week.
"A lot of people want the Armory to be haunted," Sturtevant laughed. But like the showboat Becky Thatcher before it, no one has been able to come up with any specific examples, even though they feel like there should be some, she said.
With renovation work going on at the Colony Theatre, the tour route has changed a bit this year. Now, Sturtevant leads her guests through the Union Street alley connecting Front and Second streets.
There's no ghost story along that brick street, but it has the right atmosphere - and it is the site of an unsolved murder. Sturtevant said a woman was pulled into a parking area in one of the buildings and strangled in the 1950s.
"I told you somebody died in this alley," 21-year-old Taylor Parmiter, who lived nearby, told a friend recently as she overheard Sturtevant recount that story.
There's also a historical component to the alley, with bricked-over windows barely visible above street level, illustrating how the level of Front Street was raised to combat flooding.
On Second Street, a new addition is the Galley and the Hackett Hotel, which Sturtevant said are haunted by the ghost of a woman the staff has dubbed "Charlotte."
"She's all over the building, which is sort of unusual," she said. "She's very particular about who she will interact with - only the guys. And she's not a friendly spirit."
While Sturtevant said that outside of Hollywood films there's never been a report of a ghost injuring someone, people who have encountered Charlotte said they get an unsettling feeling. The spirit has reportedly knocked things off the bar and broken objects.
Sturtevant said stopping by the Galley also gives her an opportunity to show off the Adelphia music hall to out-of-town visitors.
ReStore Marietta member Karen Briley said the Ghost Trek has been a great addition to downtown.
"It's just one more thing to do while you're visiting Marietta," she said.