Hotel Online  Special Report


It Was in the 1970s that Punderson Manor State Park Resort
Employees and Guests Began Reporting Strange Occurrences


NEWBURY, Ohio, October 7, 2005 - You know there might be something unusual about a hotel when you see an image of a lumberjack hanging by the neck from a rope that appears to be tied from the rafters of the lounge. That's what employees of Geauga County's Punderson Manor State Park Resort saw one early morning several years ago. They watched in horror for nearly three hours as the rotating image slowly faded with the morning light. The hanging lumberjack is arguably the most frightening apparition among the dozens of strange occurrences recorded at the elegant 31-room Northeast Ohio resort since it opened to guests in the 1950s. 
Here is a sampling of other stories told by visitors and guests:
  • A park ranger whose job was to make rounds through the building said he heard a woman's loud laughter as he climbed a circular staircase from the resort's main lobby to the second floor.  At the same time, the hallway turned unusually cold.  "For a second, it engulfed us," he reported. "Then it quickly went down the hallway and stopped. Once the laughter stopped, the hallway returned to its normal warmth."
  • Employee after employee has reported strange and annoying occurrences such as fires going out, pencils flying through the room, doors opening and closing and faucets being turned on and off.  Seasoned employees would sometimes get so annoyed at the disturbances that they would simply yell out for the "ghosts" to stop. Often, the disturbances would indeed stop. At least for a day or two.
  • Current general manager John Muller reports televisions in the older section of the mansion routinely turn on by themselves in the middle of the night, frightening guests and annoying housekeepers.
  • A restaurant hostess dozing on a sofa in the employee lounge said she was awakened by the sounds of children laughing and running around the sofa.  Of course, there were no children to be found in the room.
  • A recent general manager told of a couple who checked into the resort's Windsor Suite, the most elegant room in the hotel.  Moments after they checked in, the man returned to the front desk clearly disturbed.  "My wife is really a very stable person," he explained, "but she insists on leaving at once." The husband told the front desk clerk that as soon as the couple went into the room, the wife sat down on the bed.  And that is where her husband, who was in the living area of the suite, found her seconds later. Her face showed extreme terror. "Get me off this bed," she said slowly. "They're holding me down and I can't move." He took her hands and easily pulled her up.  She told him later that it felt like someone - or even several people - were sitting on her.
  • Frequently, guests call down to the front desk to report loud noises in rooms next to theirs.  Usually those rooms are unoccupied.  One man asked the front desk to quiet the party going on above him.  His room was located on the top floor.
Some historians believe Detroit millionaire Karl Long built the 29-room, 14-bath structure to appease his wife, who was not fond of Detroit. Others say he commissioned the house merely because he desired a place to get away from the pre-Depression-era demands of his business.  No matter what the reason, many visitors to the area claim that after Long started construction of his mansion, that particular spot on Punderson Lake was never quite the same.
Long never completed his home; he lost his fortune in the Depression and died just prior to completion. The property reverted back to the original owners, the W.B. Cleveland family, and eventually ended up in the hands of the State of Ohio. The State designated the 1,000-acre area surrounding Punderson Lake, including the unfinished and boarded-up mansion, as an Ohio State Park in 1948.   
The land that is now the State Park was first settled by Lemuel Punderson and his wife, Sybal, in 1802.  Punderson operated a grist mill and distillery.  He and his wife are buried side by side at the southern tip of the lake.  When Punderson died, his heirs sold the property to W. B. Cleveland.  The acreage was eventually passed on to a son-in-law, Dr. Coopedge, who sold it to Karl Long in 1929.
The State completed construction of the mansion in 1956 and opened it to guests for lodging and dining. Seeing a need for more guest rooms, the State added a wing with additional guest rooms and built 26 two-bedroom cabins.  By the 1970s, the rambling resort had become a popular destination for day-trips and short vacations among Clevelanders looking for a rural getaway.  
It was in the 1970s that resort employees, guests and other visitors began to report strange occurrences, some merely annoying and others downright terrifying.  
Once, a self-proclaimed psychic agreed to try to make contact with the ghosts of Punderson. Upon emerging two hours later from the Tower in the original section, she said she had spoken with a ghost who "looked a little like Teddy Roosevelt. He says he will continue to haunt this place until his rocking chair is returned."
Countless investigations into these strange sightings have revealed few clues. There is no record of any deaths in the mansion but research continues. Nor are there records of children having lived there.  A long-time resident of Geauga County born in 1889 and active in the Geauga County Historical Society, however, said he remembered hearing of The Wales Hotel, an inn across the lake that burned in 1885. Many children were said to be victims of the fire. Today, the Punderson State Park campground is situated on the site of the old hotel.
When asked if anyone he knew from the area looked like Teddy Roosevelt, he said, "Well, yes, I guess you could say Cleveland looked a little like Teddy Roosevelt.  At least he had a mustache like Roosevelt's."
Before the investigator left, the elderly historian invited him to view the Historical Society's museum. "We have a lot of things in there of historical value," he explained to the investigator. "Our prize possession is Sybal Hickox's rocking chair. After she married Lemuel Punderson, they brought it all the way here by wagon from Connecticut." That same rocking chair was eventually inherited by W.B. Cleveland. Some say Cleveland is still rumbling through Punderson Manor looking for that rocking chair. It has never been returned.

Managed by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the Punderson Manor Resort & Conference Center offers 31 rooms and 26 fully furnished two-bedroom housekeeping cabins. Punderson is truly a year-round destination with a wide range of recreational amenities including an 18-hole championship golf course that is recognized as one of the finest public courses in northeast Ohio. 


Punderson Manor Resort & Conference Center

Also See: Unsettled Spirits Rattle the Halls Inside Some of America�s Oldest Hotels / September 2005
Hotel Adolphus Guests and Employees Report Numerous Instances of 'Unexplained Activity' Throughout the Hotel Built in 1912 / October 2003

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