Emmitt House Hauntings

What better place to build a hotel than right on the newly completed Erie Canal? That’s what James Emmitt thought as well, as the banker built what is now called the Emmitt House in 1861 in Waverly, Ohio right in front of the Ohio-Erie Canal. James Emmitt was not only the town’s first entrepreneur but also claimed to have half of the men in Waverly working for him.

According to an Ohio roadside historical marker, the Emmitt House was:

Built for Waverly Industrialist James Emmitt in 1861, The Emmitt House was partly the work of carpenter Madison Hemings, who claimed parentage by President Thomas Jefferson. It served as a tavern and store for travelers on the Ohio-Erie Canal that passed directly in front of the hotel. The Emmitt House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 as a key part of the Waverly Canal District, which encompasses many of the canal area residential and commercial buildings in the downtown area. It underwent a year-long restoration project in 1969 that retained its historical favor and design. It continues to provide hospitality to both residents and travelers.

Apparently that hospitality includes ghosts as well. Not included in the marker but is apparent when further research is done is that the Emmitt House could have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. There seems to be an abundance of Underground Railroad reports that are connected with ghosts and this one is no different. Sounds and voices heard by employees emanating from the basement are attributed to slaves they were temporarily housed there on their journey.

It is said that stepping into this, now restaurant, is like stepping back in time to the late 1800’s. It is no wonder then that James Emmitt himself is said to still wonder his hotel. Mr. Emmitt was an avid cigar smoker and it is this cigar smell that is claimed to be smelt by employees in places off limit to patrons as well as customers throughout the restaurant.

It has also been reported that an apparition of a woman in an apron is also been seen walking the restaurant. An employee even reported seeing her one day walking in the hall and asked if she needed help, the woman replied no and when seen again in the hall the employee walked out to see if she was lost and no one was there.

Records show the in the early 1900’s there was a catastrophic small pox epidemic in Waverly. During that time doctors insisted it was not small pox but unfortunately it was and 1/3 the population of Waverly died and in some cases whole families were erased. During this time the Harper family was staying at the hotel. Reports show that small pox killed the mother and several children while they were in the hotel. The father and one son were the only surviving members.

It is said that the children of this family still play in the halls of the old hotel. Employees have claimed to see the children and children’s laughing is seldom heard throughout the old building and have even been recorded.

There have been many comments made when first entering into the Emmitt House of a feeling of someone watching you and you are often urged to turn a look behind you. Other paranormal activity reported are footsteps being heard as well as the creaking of the old wood floors that accompany them, pictures have been taken that contain unexplained mists and glows that are not perceived by the eye and the aroma of perfume has been detected in certain areas.

The Emmitt House is a great place to visit for good food and a great look back into the history of the area. It also may be a good place to encounter a visit from a few ghosts that like to hang around also as it is one of the most haunted places in America.

Update: On January 6, 2014 a fire broke out and resulted in the loss of the Emmitt House.


  • Sarah

    There’s something strangely contenting about these old haunted house stories. It’s so unlikely in this day and age for people to die in their own home. It’s sort of like a part of them is still their looking after their house.

  • Ghost Writer

    Yes, we were keeping track of that in the news. Sad to loose such a unique and historical place and a place with such a paranormal presence as well.

  • Rissa Rose

    In your article, you state that the Emmitt House was built in 1861. Then you state that in the winter of 1837-38 there was a catastrophic small pox epidemic in Waverly.
    1/3 the population of Waverly died. During this time the Harper family was staying at the hotel. Reports show that small pox killed the mother and several children while they were in the hotel.
    In 1837-1838, according to your article, Emmitt House had not been built yet. Is ‘the hotel’ you are talking about…Emmitt House or did you make a mistake in your article?

  • Ghost Writer

    Thanks for finding this Rissa. I changed the dates in the article. There was a major smallpox outbreak in Waverly in 1837-38 and the Surgeon General reports another outbreak from Jan – June in the 1900’s. I must have gotten them mixed up when trying to verify the story of the family in the hotel.

  • Terri

    There is a newer Facebook page being run by an anonymous person that now has some VERY interesting photos of the Emmitt House, both during and after the fire, where apparitions are very clearly seen. Check it out. There appear to be apparitions climbing out the windows, there is also a very interesting pic of what appears to be a little girl, up on the Second Floor. Check it out if you get a chance. They are very interesting.

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