Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Music Hall Ghosts

Cincinnati's Music Hall was built in 1878 and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is the home of the Cincinnati Pops and Symphony Orchestras and, according to legend, it is also the home of many ghosts.

Music Hall was built on land that held an Orphanage Asylum in 1844 and, prior to that, the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum, which included a "pest house" for the indigent who were stricken with contagious diseases. When these indigent patients died, they were buried in mass graves, making the land under the present-day Music Hall a potter's field

With that kind of history, it's not hard to imagine there could be some restless souls wandering around Music Hall. While the venue is undoubtedly beautiful, it's not a big stretch for me to believe that there could be ghosts there, as I've always thought the place had a bit of a "Phantom of the Opera" vibe. When I've been there for shows, I could easily imagine the huge chandelier crashing down into the crowd.

Throughout the years, employees of Music Hall have reported strange sounds, such as footsteps, slamming doors, and music playing when no musicians were in the building. One employee reported what sounded like a music box playing for hours in the elevator shaft. In addition, workers have seen apparitions and ghostly forms, such as an extra unknown "cast member" in a production, men and women dressed in 19th century clothing, and, most notably, a "girl in white" who frequents the auditorium. Chairs in the auditorium have reportedly been moved, and elevators set in motion when no one has pressed their buttons.

Music Hall has been renovated several times over the years and, each time, construction workers have unearthed bones. Its reputation for ghostly inhabitants has spread so far that Music Hall was featured on The Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places in America.

Now, The Cincinnati Arts Association gives guided ghost tours of Music Hall one night a month. I've never attended a tour but, after the reading I did for this post, I can't deny I'm a little curious.

One of the primary settings in my WIP Polar Night is an old asylum that is considered haunted and has been turned into a tourist attraction. It was fascinating to me to read about Music Hall and other supposedly haunted places to get a feel for the atmosphere I wanted to create in my story.

I've always been so intrigued by ghost stories and "haunted" places like Music Hall. What about you? Do you believe in the possibility of ghosts? Or do you think the stories surrounding these places are just the products of overactive imaginations?


  1. Wow, what an amazing post! That video had me from Word One. Hmmm, maybe the little boy is the son of the lady in white. If I had to spend a night in that building, my hair would be white in the morning. But, truly, it is a gorgeous theatre. I'd love to go to a performance there.

  2. Even seeing the first picture of The Music Hall made me think this building could be haunted. Very cool post.

  3. Ghosts seems to be prominent around the A-Z today, this is the 4th post I've read. It's an amzing looking building - I couldn't watch the video, does it explain why so many bones were found?

  4. I have heard about the hauntings but didn't know the reason behind that. Very interesting.

  5. Wow. I do believe in the possibility of ghosts. This is chilling. Don't know if I want to go there or not.

  6. Quite an impressive looking space, and that history certainly makes ghosts seem possible. Very Poltergeisty. My kids would love to take the tour.

  7. All I can think about is the movie "Poltergeist." Shudder. But in a good way. :)

  8. Oohh, I love ghost stories! This one sounds scary-cool. :)

  9. I would love to go on one of those ghost tours there. It's so beautiful from the pictures, and I think a lot of music halls have an opportunity to be haunted. After all, if I was going to haunt a place, a theater-type building would be on my list.

  10. What a gorgeous place, and it does have the Phantom feel. I do believe in the possibility of ghosts even though I've never experienced anything for certain myself. I think active imaginations have a lot to do with it!

  11. Wow, I had no idea about the insane asylum roots of Music Hall. I totally agree with you--that place does have a Phantom of the Opera feel.

  12. I think I'd love to visit Music Hall one day. I love ghost stories, I know I'll be scared the whole time, but it will be worth it. :D Besides, from the photos, It looks beautiful. :)

  13. Go on a tour! It would be a lot of fun and you'd get to see so much more of the hall.

  14. What a beautiful, amazing, and (at the same time) sad place.
    I had never been a believer in ghosts until moving to our current house. Some really weird things have happened here that cannot be explained.
    You absolutely have to go on that tour--if for no other reason than research for writing.

  15. I can't believe I've not heard of the ghosty associations when I am a nut about ghosty places in the traveling area.

    Found bones, that's freaky. And now I'm wondering which is scarier: Music Hall or the old asylum bought by OU Athens.

  16. Yes, I do believe in ghosts...and I love that old building! It is really gorgeous!

  17. As you probably already know, I'm fond of ghosts and this sounds like an awesome place to visit--now I just need to get out to Cincinnati... Spooktacular post!

  18. I'm always fascinated by this stuff -- ghosts and hauntings -- but I'm too chicken to take a tour. If I saw or heard anything ghostly, I'd jump out of my skin.

  19. I loved reading this post. I'm a scaredy cat. I stayed with my writer's group in the Crescent Hotel this year (also a world famous haunted place). Never, never again...

  20. Wow, I want to go on one of those tours. And yes, I do believe. Really, I do.

    Have a lovely weekend, Julie! :)

  21. What a terrific post! I lived in Cincinnati for two years and loved the city. Am following...

    If you've the chance, take a peek at my blog. I'm the award winning author of the Bella and Britt series for kids.

  22. I would love to poke around back stage! Wow what a beautiful place. And yes I believe in ghosts.

  23. Cool. Interesting post! Loved the history behind it all. We have a county home, still. Where seniors who can't afford a nursing home can go when they can no longer manage on their own. It is part of the county buildings site. When I was a little girl, I recall my grandma (who was born in the late 1800s, telling me that when her uncles died, "They just hauled them out to an old filed and put them in the ground in an unmarked grave." "They" being the county. I wonder how many places are like that across the USA?

    Cool post--adds such depth to the music hall story... :-)

  24. I believe in the possibility of ghosts, and I think you should definitely go on that tour. (And then tell US all about it!)

  25. I love the extra unknown cast member.

    Delicious post!

  26. I believe in ghosts enough to have been scared by reading this. Well done post on an intriguing topic, Julie.

    Be well.

  27. Ghosts are great in fiction, but I think the preponderance of real-life evidence goes against them, especially considering how much can be explained by our own psychology and reactions to death. Great spotlight though, thanks for sharing!

  28. Such a beautiful space. The idea of ghosts freaks me out!

  29. That is a a beautiful building and I do believe in the possibility of ghosts, so it would be no stretch for me to imagine that place has them! I'd love to hear about it if you do the tour.

  30. Hey, Julie, it's amazing to be me that something would be built on top of a grave side. There's also no way I'd set foot inside that building. :o

  31. Hey, Julie, it's amazing to be me that something would be built on top of a grave side. There's also no way I'd set foot inside that building. :o

  32. @Kittie, LOL, I think my hair would be white too. It really is a great place though, just not at night LOL.

    @Carrie, thanks! I agree, the picture alone is kind of creepy.

    @Annalisa, they said the bones were just part of the mass grave, and indicated that tons of bodies were buried there. Very disturbing!

    @Tonja, I didn't know a lot about it either before researching this post.

    @Carol, I've never had an issue going there but now after I read all this I'm not so sure anymore.

    @Tim, it reminded me of Poltergeist too, I immediately thought of the movie.

    @Madeline, LOL, we are on the same wavelength then!

    @cherie, me too!

    @Cherie, that's a good point! I think the music makes the whole thing even creepier, just kind of chilling.

    @Christine, yeah, I think it's probably a combination of both.

    @Jennifer, the chandelier alone always makes me think of the Phantom.

    @Cecilia, it really is a gorgeous place. And I agree, I love the ghost stories.

    @Alex, I think I might, I am curious about it LOL.

    @Susan, oh, that is creepy about your house. The same thing happened to my sister when she moved into her old house. It was just a strange situation.

    @Yvonne, thank you!

    @Amalie, oh, I don't know about the OU Asylum! Now I want to look that up.

    @Tracy, agree with you on all counts. :)

    @Michael, if you ever make it this way it is definitely worth a visit.

    @LG, LOL, I think I'd jump out of my skin too. I am the same way, fascinated, but a total chicken.

    @Brinda, I'm so glad you liked it. I am not familiar with the Crescent Hotel, now I need to read about that. I will end up freaking myself out LOL.

    @Michelle, thank you, I hope you've had a great weekend!

    @Nancy, oh, nice to meet you, thanks! I will definitely check out your blog.

    @ladydragonfly, I think that would be fun too, even though I'd be totally freaked out if I heard any strange music LOL.

    @Teresa, thank you! Oh, that's interesting and also very sad about the county buildings. You are so right, I do wonder if this is much more common than we know.

    @Susan, I think I will, I just have to get my nerve up LOL.

    @Suze, thanks! The cast member was my favorite as well.

    @Robyn, thank you! Although I'm sorry you were scared. :D

    @kelworthfiles, good points, thank you!

    @Theresa, me too LOL.

    @Rebecca, I will definitely post about the tour if I go on it, thanks.

    @JL, it is crazy, isn't it? I wonder if other buildings were built on tops of graves and we just don't know it, it's very creepy.

  33. So glad I'm reading this at bedtime! Between your story and the video I'm pretty creeped out right now! Great post Julie and I agree with Susan that you should go on the tour. Just make sure to bring a friend with you! Julie

  34. @Julie, oh, I'm sorry I creeped you out LOL. That's a good point, I definitely wouldn't want to go on the tour alone, yikes. :D


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