MARIETTA - Since it was built, The Anchorage has held the fascination of Mid-Ohio Valley residents with tall tales from beyond.
"The Anchorage is my favorite location in the area because there is so much activity and so often," said Tom Moore co-founder of the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters. "The energy (there) is constantly building, which is great."
The Anchorage, located on George Street in Marietta's west side, was built from 1954 with completion having taken place in 1859. At the time it was known as Putnam Villa, built by Douglas Putnam for his wife Eliza, the 22-room building has served as a private residence as well as a nursing home. It is now home to the Washington County Historical Society.
The stately home's history has led to the local stories of hauntings and ghosts, beginning with Eliza Putnam herself, said Lynne Sturtevant, founder and owner of the Hidden Marietta tours.
"People who live in Harmar have reported seeing her ghost for years," Sturtevant said. "Eliza loved the home and didn't get to enjoy it long."
Less than three years after moving into her dream home, Eliza Putnam died there of heart disease. It is believed her spirit has remained with the mansion since.
"There are a number of spirits in the Anchorage," Moore said. "Some are from the home's beginnings in the 1800s and others are from when it was a nursing home."
After Douglass Putnam's death in 1864, the home passed through the possession of a number of prominent people, including Edward MacTaggert, who restored the home and lavishly furnished it with items collected during his international travels. The house became known as The Anchorage in 1896 when it was purchased by the Knox family.
In the 1960s, The Anchorage started a new life as The Christian Anchorage Nursing and Rest Home.
"Our members and people we've taken on ghost hunts of The Anchorage have gotten a lot of evidence from the nursing home days," Moore said.
Some of the electronic voice recordings - better known as electronic voice phenomenon - captured by members of the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters include a woman screaming and the voice of a child.
"Everything we catch, whether it is an EVP, photo or something we saw, we try and back up with information collected through research, but there are some things we just can't back up," said Moore
One of those things is an EVP of a child introducing herself as Henrietta and tales from a woman who had worked as a nurse at The Christian Anchorage Nursing and Rest Home, he added.
"We just can't find anything that mentions a Henrietta, of any age, having lived at The Anchorage, but not only did we get the EVP, but a former nurse told us stories of a patient who talked to a little girl named Henrietta in the house," Moore continued. "A lot of the other things we have heard or seen has evidence to give it some credence."
People in the home have reported seeing and hearing strange things, whether there to look for paranormal activity or working on the renovations the Washington County Historical Society has been doing since it acquired the building and grounds in 1996.
"People have seen a number of apparitions and heard not only voice but also other sounds that cannot be easily explained," Moore said. "I have heard a medicine cart moving through the second floor hallway and many of our members have seen a full-bodied apparition of a little girl wearing an old fashioned dress with ruffles, who we believe is Henrietta."
Along with the supernatural activity that Moore believes is building and may come to a head and release in some manner soon, there are also rumors the former stately home was part of the Underground Railroad.
"There have been rumors since it was built that the Putnams had tunnels built from The Anchorage to the Muskingum River," Sturtevant said. "I don't believe it."
Sturtevant cited the fact the tunnels would not only collapse under the weight of the heavy soil, but also the lack of ventilation would make the structures unusable.
"Yes, Douglas Putnam's brother was a well-known abolitionist who operated an Underground Railroad station, but that does not mean the house had the tunnels," she added. "There are long hallways in the basement of the house, but I don't believe they were tunnels."
Sturtevant said that while the rumors of tunnels to the river are likely untrue, the house could have been part of the path to freedom for runaway slaves.
"It is a big house and there are some areas in it that have no explainable reason for being, so it could have hidden a few people," she said.