The Real Cost of Campus Hysteria

Ohio jury awards local business over $33 million after false targeting by outraged college students.

In the 1994 satirical comedy PCU, mobs of angry students run down and protest anyone who offends their cause célèbre at the fictional Port Chester University. Way ahead of its time, the film starring Jeremy Piven and David Spade lampooned the burgeoning movement of “political correctness” on college campuses. Today, we might call these PC warriors “Social Justice Warriors”, or SJWs.

While it’s funny to watch angry mobs of college students chase a hapless pre-frosh through campus in a movie, it’s not so hilarious for the real victims of campus activism. Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio recently learned this lesson the hard way after a jury awarded $44 million to  Gibson’s Food Market and Bakery after students and faculty wrongly targeted them for a protest campaign.

In 2016, the store owner’s son, Allyn Gibson, confronted a student he believed was trying to purchase one bottle of wine with a fake ID and steal two bottles stuffed under his shirt. The student ran from the store and Gibson chased after him. Outside, the report alleged, several more students joined the confrontation and physically assaulted Gibson before fleeing the scene. Three students eventually plead guilty to misdemeanors of aggravated trespassing and attempted theft.

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Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio

Built between 1896 and 1910, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield served as a detention center for young, petty criminals. The first inmates were admitted in 1896, and they helped construct the Romanesque Revival building. The reformatory closed in 1990 and was used most famously in the filming of The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Today it is open for tours, and has attracted a reputation for being haunted.

Photo by Michael Kleen

The old superintendent’s office, where disembodied voices are heard, is widely believed to be haunted by the ghosts of Helen and Warden Glattke. In the basement, the ghost of a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly beaten to death has been reported. Visitors often experience strong feelings of dread, anger, and fear throughout the former reformatory. One form of punishment was to send prisoners to solitary confinement in “the hole”—a dark and claustrophobic room—for an indeterminate amount of time.

A Lonely Hovel
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A tribute to Harmony Korine’s Gummo

My tribute to Harmony Korine’s Gummo (1997), filmed in Syracuse, New York. Gummo is an art film written and directed by Harmony Korine, starring Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell, and Chloë Sevigny. It’s set in Xenia, Ohio, a small, poor Midwestern town devastated by a tornado.

My version of ”Bunny Boy” was played by Daisy Rose. The original bunny ears hat was custom made by Chloë Sevigny, so I had to use ears from Bob’s Burgers. “I Love my Little Rooster” sung by Almeda Riddle, recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr. on May 10, 1962, courtesy of The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection, Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas.

Akron Civic Theatre’s Ghostly Trio

Originally known as the Loews Theatre, the Akron Civic Theatre was designed by Viennese architect John Eberson in grand “Atmospheric” style. The ceiling was painted to look like the night sky, and it is one of the few theater ceilings that can rotate. The Civic is believed to be haunted by three ghosts. A girl who allegedly committed suicide by jumping into the canal behind the theater has been encountered walking along the edge of the canal, weeping uncontrollably. The ghost of a longtime employee of the theater, a janitor named Fred, has been spotted all over the building. Finally, the anonymous ghost of a man has been seen sitting in the balcony. These phantoms make the Civic Theatre one of the most spirited in Ohio.

The Akron Civic Theatre is located at 182 South Main Street in downtown Akron, Ohio. L. Oscar Beck began construction on this site in 1919, intending to build an impressive entertainment complex called The Hippodrome. His project went bankrupt in 1921 and the site stood incomplete until Marcus Loew, founder of the Loew’s theater chain, built the Loews Theatre there in 1929. It was an ambitious project incorporating Moorish and Mediterranean architecture and decor. The theater lobby extended over the Ohio and Erie Canal. It had many owners over the years, including the Akron Jaycees and the Women’s Guild. In June 2001, the Akron Civic Theatre closed to undergo a $19 million renovation. Today, it is one of only sixteen remaining atmospheric theaters designed by architect John Eberson in the United States.

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Cleveland’s Macabre Franklin Castle

Visitors to Cleveland’s Franklin Boulevard are likely to shudder when walking past this quintessential haunted house, even if they’ve never heard the stories.

  • German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann built this High Victorian-style home between 1881-1883.
  • After his wife passed away from liver disease in 1896, Tiedemann sold the home and since then no one has lived there long.
  • Wild stories about the home include murder, illicit affairs, hidden rooms and passageways, and even infanticide.

If you ask about a haunted house in Cleveland, you are likely to get one response: “Franklin Castle.” That is because this High Victorian style stone house is one of the most infamous haunted houses in the Rock and Roll Capital of the World, if not the state of Ohio.

Built between 1881-1883 by German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann, Franklin Castle (or the Tiedemann House as it is more properly known) is located at 4308 Franklin Boulevard in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Today, this neighborhood is economically depressed, but it was at one time an upscale residential avenue. It is rumored to be home to more than a few tortured souls left over from a series of gruesome murders – but are any of those stories true?

On January 15, 1891, before construction began on the home, Tiedemann’s 15-year-old daughter Emma died of diabetes, a fact which becomes important later. Hannes Tiedemann and his family lived in this house from 1883 until 1896. He sold it shortly after his wife Louise died of liver disease. From 1921 to 1968, it was the home of the German-American League for Culture and known as Eintracht Hall.

Prior to US entry in World War 2, the German-American League for Culture advocated the overthrow of Adolf Hitler’s regime. From 1968 to the present day, Franklin Castle went through a series of owners. The first, James Romano and his family, are largely responsible for the house’s reputation for being haunted. Their encounters with the unseen were widely circulated in the press, and the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society even conducted an investigation of the home.

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The Many Mysteries of Rogues Hollow Road

A headless horse is among the phantoms said to haunt this formerly rough-and-tumble holler near Doylestown, Ohio.

  • Rogues Hollow was a nineteenth century mining community known for its rambunctious residents.
  • According to legend, a low-hanging branch decapitated a horse along the trail, and its spirit returns.
  • The bridge over Silver Creek is one of Ohio’s many “crybaby bridges.”

Rogues Hollow is a geologic depression and former town located south of the village of Doylestown in northeastern Ohio, a few miles southwest of Akron. Though long defunct, the road and bridge of the same name has long been a magnet for legends. Today, Doylestown celebrates its unique heritage with the Rogues’ Hollow Festival, an annual event which takes place the first Friday and Saturday of August.

Though one of many “crybaby bridges” scattered throughout rural Ohio, Rogues Hollow’s notorious history makes it unique. Rogues Hollow was formed after centuries of erosion by the meandering of Silver Creek, and the area was settled in the early 1800s when coal deposits were discovered. In 1958, Russell Frey printed a collection  of area history called Rogue’s Hollow: History and Legends. He described the mining community as rough-and-tumble, full of taverns, violent episodes, and tormented spirits.

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Squire’s Castle and its Phantasmal Light Show

A fairy tale gatehouse has become a charming addition to a public park in suburban Cleveland, but some visitors claim otherworldly residents flicker through its empty halls.

  • Standard Oil co-founder Feargus B. Squire began construction on the property in the 1890s.
  • Squire’s wife, Louisa, died of pneumonia in 1927.
  • After years of vandalism, the “castle” has been heavily renovated.
  • Visitors claim to see a red light shining in the darkened windows.

The hollowed out shell of Squire’s Castle sits deep in the woods off River Road in the northeastern suburbs of Cleveland. This romantic, Medieval-looking stone edifice once served as a carriage or gate house for Standard Oil co-founder Feargus B. Squire. Squire intended to build a mansion at the site, but never finished his project. Since opening to the public, visitors claim to see mysterious lights flashing in the darkened windows. The light, they say, is the spectral remnants of Squire’s wife, “Rebecca”.

Feargus O’Conner Bowden Squire, or simply Feargus B. Squire, was born on February 12, 1850 in Devon, England. His family emigrated to the Cleveland area in 1860. Squire rose to prominence in the burgeoning petroleum industry, and served as Mayor of Wickliffe in 1923.

Squire built the small Romanesque Revival gatehouse northeast of Cleveland in the 1890s and intended it to be part of a larger estate, but never finished the project. The finished gatehouse included several bedrooms, living areas, a large kitchen, library, a breakfast porch, and hunting room. Squire spent time there with his daughter, Irma, but his wife never enjoyed the rustic getaway.

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