Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Taft Museum of Art

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Taft Museum of Art is a house on the eastern edge of downtown Cincinnati that was built in 1820, and was originally the home of Martin Baum, a businessman and one time mayor of the city. In the later 1800s, the house belonged to industrialist David Sinton, who lived there with his daughter Annie. Annie married Charles Taft, the half-brother of US President William Howard Taft, and she and Charles lived in the house from 1873 until 1929.

Charles and Annie were avid art collectors, and they eventually turned their home into a museum and donated all of the art within it to the city upon their deaths in 1929 and 1931. The Taft Museum collection includes European old master paintings and 19th century American paintings, as well as porcelains, enamels, decorative arts, sculptures, and furniture.

One of the highlights of the Taft collection is the work of Robert Duncanson, who was the first African-American artist to gain international acclaim and recognition. In 1851, Nicholas Longworth, who was the owner of the house at the time, hired Duncanson to create landscape murals to decorate the foyer of the home. Duncanson created eight landscapes, which are still showcased in the Taft today.


When I wrote about the Music Hall ghosts for my "M" post, I had no plans to end up with a mini-theme of Cincinnati ghosts and haunted places. But, that is what has happened, as I learned about the ghost stories of the Taft Museum after I read about the Spring Grove cemetery ghosts. Thanks to a book called Ghosts of Cincinnati, I've learned about so many haunted places here in my home town that I'm a little bit freaked out by all the ghostly activity that's supposedly been going on around me.

I remember going to the Taft Museum as a kid, and I'm well aware of the museum's reputation for gardens as beautiful as its art collection. But I had no idea that the house is apparently haunted by the ghost of Annie Sinton Taft.


Many visitors to the Museum, as well as employees, have claimed to see Annie's ghost in and around the premises. One such sighting occurred during a concert in the backyard garden, when two security guards reportedly saw a lady in an old-fashioned pink gown sitting on the balcony and tapping her foot to the music. The balcony was inaccessible to the public, and the guards insisted that the woman they had seen was Annie. It seemed to them that she was simply enjoying the concert going on below her in her garden.

Other strange happenings at the Taft include books flying off the gift shop shelves for no apparent reason, and guests being tapped on the shoulder by an unseen presence. Night shift employees have heard disembodied voices calling out names, and the spectral cries of a baby.

It's been fun, and more than a little creepy, to learn about haunted Cincinnati. I have one more haunted spot to share tomorrow for the letter "U" before I leave the Cincinnati ghosts behind.

30 comments:

  1. It's so cool that all your research for the challenge is turning up so many ghost stories. You'll never look at your city the same way again.

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  2. I love the concept of "haunted Cincinnati" Seems like the beginnings of a great novel!

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  3. What Johanna said! You need to write a book now.

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  4. Neat on the ghosts. I've been doing lots of ghost research for my WIP. I watch Ghost Adventures a lot, too.

    I'm jealous of the art museums. The on hallmark of civilization I miss living out in the wilderness. Whenever I get to a city, it's the first thing on my list of things I want to do. We do have some art though. They put sculptures in the center of all the traffic circles in town.

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  5. I love ghost stories! :D

    What a beautiful painting. I love museums, I think I'd have a blast visiting Taft Museum of Art. :)

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  6. I've really been enjoying your ghost stories, but I can say that because I'm safely tucked away! Julie

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  7. @LG, it's so true, I can't believe I've lived here nearly all my life and had no clue about all these ghost stories.

    @Johanna, the ghost stories have given me some ideas for a novel, I hope I can make something work.

    @Alex, thanks!

    @Mary, I've never watched Ghost Adventures, but now I'm so intrigued by these ghost stories I want to start. I think I take the museums here for granted, something I've realized while writing these posts.

    @Cecilia, I do too! It really is a nice museum, I think you'd like it.

    @Julie, LOL, at least these museum ghosts seem friendly. :)

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  8. What a mansion/museum. Must be an inspirational spot.

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  9. Mostg insoirational T post. A lovely place to look around.

    Yvonne.

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  10. Oooh!I love ghost stories. They fascinate me and it's so cool that things would happen in a museum. I have recently learned that the building that I live in is supposed to have a few ghosts. I need to do a little research.

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  11. @Theresa, it is a gorgeous place.

    @Yvonne, I'm glad you liked it, thanks.

    @ladydragonfly, oh, how interesting, and also a little creepy, that your building may have ghosts. I think these stories are fascinating too, just interesting to me.

    @Peggy, some of both, definitely! :)

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  12. Am feeling quite chuffed as I knew you had a president called Taft :))

    Have to say that Annie Sinton Taft looks like she would enjoy a bit of haunting! lol

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  13. Miz Annie looks like a strong-willed woman :)

    There are two towns near the South Texas coast called Sinton and Taft. They are named after the Sinton and Taft in your post because they owned the majority of shares in the company that built the railroad there.

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  14. @Carolyn, LOL, I thought the same thing about Annie's picture.

    @Carol, oh, that's interesting about the towns!

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  15. It sounds like a person could do a lot of ghost hunting in Cincinnati. I'm glad to see these posts since I know absolutely nothing about the city. :)

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  16. Julie, You could start your own ghost adventure show in Cincinnati. Maybe you could do some investigative journalism and write a book about it :-)
    Another captivating post.

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  17. @Brinda, I'm glad you like them, thanks!

    @Susan, LOL, that would be fun. I never imagined there were so many ghosts around here.

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  18. this looks like a very elegant place thanks for visiting the blog and good luck with the novel

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  19. Just returning your visit and am I glad that I did. Love your blog and am learning so much. I'm now a new follower!
    Patricia, Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice

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  20. @David, thank you, and thanks for visiting here as well.

    @Patricia, thanks!

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  21. Oh that's cool. It's fun when you discover you have a mini theme and when the mini theme is haunted places, even cooler. Thanks for posting.

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  22. What a gorgeous building! I love ghost stories; they give a view of life and characters from a different time that we might not otherwise hear about. Duncanson's artwork is so pretty; his trees are so lifelike.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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  23. @Jessica, it has been fun, thank you!

    @Shannon, I agree, I loved learning about Duncanson and his work. And that's just what I think about ghost stories, they can be so interesting. Thanks!

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  24. Hi Julie .. fascinating history - love the stories .. and I do hope Annie continues to purvey her collections .. art, house, garden - fun to think about ..

    Great posts - thanks .. Hilary

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  25. @Hilary, I agree, I hope Annie stays on at her house as well. Thank you!

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  26. So creepy! Does the Taft Museum have trouble keeping security guards?!

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  27. I wonder why it is that ghosts and tales of hauntings intrigue us as they do. I mean, there's the obvious, we can't know with certainty what happens after we die.

    But then there's, as I think I mentioned in one of your posts before -- the Music Hall post, in fact -- a certain deliciousness about the telling of the stories that immediately draws us all in. I can see why, as a storyteller, it drew you in, too. :)

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  28. @Suze, you are so right, there is definitely a delicious quality to these tales, and they can get addicting. I just love the history behind them, and the possibility of some kind of spiritual presence remaining long after the physical body is gone.

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Thank you for your comments!