Spring Grove Cemetery dates back to 1844 and, at 733 acres, it is the second largest cemetery in the United States, behind only Arlington National Cemetery. It was founded by members of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society, who hired a renowned landscape architect to design it. The architect, Adolph Strauch, envisioned a "garden cemetery" filled with lakes, trees, and shrubs and, as a result, the cemetery remains one of the most picturesque places in the city, and it is extremely popular both for 5k races and for casual walkers.
I got the idea to use Spring Grove for my "S" post when I wrote about the Music Hall ghosts, and learned that the cemetery is, unsurprisingly, another local place that is filled with stories of hauntings and ghost sightings. I couldn't resist making a trip there myself.
I was at the cemetery in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny day, and I didn't get any sense of ghosts lurking about while I explored. But I was a bit taken back by the number of old mausoleums that dot the landscape. I thought this one was particularly spooky, as I could see what looked like a painting or stained glass window on the inside.
The door itself was creepy to me, with its huge padlock and engraved date. I wondered if that padlock has been in place since 1911.
These mausoleums were everywhere, and the majority of them belonged to famous names in Cincinnati history. There are also soldiers from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War buried on the grounds, and I came upon this memorial to what appears to be a Civil War soldier several times while driving around.
One of the most famous ghost stories about Spring Grove concerns the Norman Chapel.
It's a gorgeous building that is actually used for weddings now, but its history is not so pleasant. Built in 1880, the chapel was originally used by the cemetery as a jail, and bars can still be seen on the basement windows. Night guards were posted to stand watch over the jail, and were given orders to shoot trespassers as thieves. Now, visitors to Spring Grove have reported eerie cries coming from the chapel basement, and cameras have captured unexplained images outside the structure.
When I visited Spring Grove, I was most interested in seeing the grave of C.C. Breuer, an optometrist who died in 1908. According to legend, Breuer decreed that, upon his death, his eyes were to be removed from his body and encased in glass, then placed inside the bronze bust on his headstone so that he could watch over his grave for eternity. Visitors to the grave have reported that the eyes appear to dilate and follow the path of anyone who passes by his memorial.
Unfortunately, I never made it to see the Breuer eyes for myself, as I could never find the bust. I've mentioned before on this blog that I am a master at getting lost, so I knew I was going to be in trouble when I heard that Spring Grove is an easy place to get lost in. I never need any help.
It didn't take long before all of the mausoleums and gigantic obelisks began to look exactly the same to me, and I started to feel like a rat stuck in a maze. Especially as I passed the soldier monument for what felt like the hundredth time. When I finally came to the exit, I just wanted out and no longer cared about seeing Mr. Breuer's eyes.
Other stories of Spring Grove involve visitors feeling as if they are being watched, or insisting they've been touched on the shoulder, only to turn and find no one there. In addition, one of the mausoleums is reportedly guarded by the spirits of two white wolves who stare at intruders with glowing eyes.
I can't say I had any strange experiences while visiting Spring Grove but, at the same time, I have no desire to go there at night. And, while I know the cemetery is very popular with walkers, I definitely prefer to do my walking in the park.