Timeless Tales of Shady Bend: The Haunted History Behind Ohio’s Italianate Jewel
Jacob Snyder’s Architectural Masterpiece: The Historic Shady Bend Manor
The Shady Bend Manor in Ohio is a brilliant example of the Italianate architectural style during the 1800s. Designed by architect Jacob Snyder and built for John Hardy in 1874, this incredible home overlooks the town of Newcomerstown, Ohio. The 3,289-square-foot home sits on 4.4 acres, and features a circular driveway, built-in cabinets, six fireplaces, wood floors, french doors and still holds most of the original light fixtures.
A Labor of Love: The Decades-Long Restoration Journey of Shady Bend Manor
Charles and Linda Downer were the proud owners of the mansion from 1968 until recently, and had worked diligently restoring the manor to its former glory over decades. The Downers resided in the stately structure since 1989. Throughout its 149-year history, the mansion has been home to a myriad of families and has also housed an assortment of businesses. In 1971, a ravaging fire wreaked havoc upon the estate, leading to extensive restoration efforts by the Downers. Original trim and woodwork were replaced with similar pieces salvaged from other local historic structures, including the former Miskimen house in Newcomerstown, which was formerly the school annex behind the middle school.
Changing Hands: The Shady Bend Manor’s Intriguing Past as a Home and Business
After the passing of John and Emily Hardy, the mansion was purchased by the Lovelace family, who lived there until the early 1900s. The residence subsequently served as a children’s receiving home from the late 1920s into the early 1930s. The structure later housed what was known as the Pine Manor Inn from 1938 to 1942. Additionally, the mansion was home to a “ratskeller” (a subterranean tavern) filled with illegal slot machines. During the mid-1950s, the mansion was transformed into an antique shop in the hands of Thelma Harding. Thelma would operate her shop here for several years.
Over the years, the Downers have recounted numerous instances of strange occurrences. Mysterious sounds, such as footsteps, doors creaking open or slamming shut, and guests reporting an eerie sense of an unseen presence, have all contributed to the mansion’s reputation for being haunted.
The Haunting Stories Behind Shady Bend Manor’s Spectral Residents
One story goes that during a New Year’s Eve party, Downer was mingling with guests in the parlor when one individual, unaware of the mansion’s ghostly lore, informed Downer that an unanticipated visitor had entered the residence. Despite not expecting any additional company that evening, Downer searched the adjacent dining room and other areas of the mansion, but to no avail. The guest claimed to have spotted a reflection in the dining room mirror of a figure dressed in a black coat. Although no detailed description was given, Downer figured that the apparition might have been the specter of John Hardy. Both John and Emily Hardy, as well as several members of the Lovelace family, passed away within the mansion. The Hardys were renowned for their pride in the mansion and its grounds, leading some to believe that their spirits continue to watch over the estate to this day.
Local folklore tells of a time in the 1880s when John Hardy denied shelter to a drifter on a bitterly cold winter night. The drifter was later discovered frozen to death in Hardy’s barn. Before perishing, it’s believed that the drifter cursed Hardy for his inhospitality, and it is said that the drifter’s spirit has haunted the mansion ever since.
Another interesting piece of history tells of a time in the 1930s, when a man was tragically shot and killed in the third-story tower room following a heated poker game dispute. The bloodstains remain visible on the wooden floor, fueling speculation that the victim may also be among the spirits inhabiting the mansion. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Osmus family owned the mansion and operated the Pine Manor Inn. It was later revealed that the Osmus daughters experienced unsettling encounters with an unknown presence in the attic, where they would hang laundry to dry during the winter months. Downer recalled that when his own twin sons, Adam and Mark, were two years old, they would inexplicably scream and cry whenever the family visited the house for restoration projects in the evenings. It was only when the boys were taken outdoors or completely away from the house that they would finally calm down. This peculiar behavior persisted for several years before gradually fading as the boys grew older. Although they could not pinpoint the exact reason for their fear, the boys distinctly remember feeling frightened by some kind of strange energy within the mansion.
Shady Bend Manor Today
The home was recently sold in January of 2023 for $376,500. It’s not clear what the future holds for the manor, but hopefully it will continue to be well loved and taken care of. The rich history, captivating tales, and supernatural occurrences enveloping the Shady Bend mansion will undoubtedly continue to intrigue and enthrall both locals and visitors alike.
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