Some people believe in haunted houses and cemeteries and some don't. Is it just your imagination or is it true? Are there ghost and spirits with us or is it the wind and the ground settling below us? In Madison we have and large old building that has been around since 1859 Maybe it is haunted maybe its not.
What I do know is I have been in this building( my fair share of times in the late 80's ) and it was quite the spooky place back then. When I was there it had high ceilings, paint flaking off the walls, big heavy doors that squeaked when you opened and shut them, and dark long hallways, and lots of strange sounds from other rooms...yes everything you need for a ghost to live in....
For years people been saying that Ohio Cottage was haunted and that a lot of people died in that big old building. Is it true? Well I am sure that people have died there ..... some are even buried next door in the cemetery that once lived in the house.
Well some of you may be wondering was I scared when I was there? Well yes I was ....But not for the reason you may think...Most of my visits there were for other reason in the late 80's But that is a whole other story.....lol....hint 1978-1992 Madison Township Office Building (AKA) can you say police station. And you thought zane was a good boy.....
History of the Madison Township Facility
In 1847 a small frame building opened in Madison Township, Lake County, OH that became known as the Madison Seminary. It provided high school and beyond education to people of Lake and surrounding counties. Few written records survive this period.
By 1859 a brick structure had been added to the east side of the original structure. The original frame structure was converted to a boarding hall. At one time some 150 students were enrolled in the Seminary.
The Madison Seminary buildings would serve students from 1847 to July 1891.
By Nov 10, 1891, the name of the facility officially became the Madison Home, purchased and owned by the Ohio Women's Relief Corps, a women's group of the Grand Army of the Republic, GAR for short. This home was to render needful assistance to Army nurses and soldiers' mothers, wives and sisters for whom no provision has yet been made to care for the people uprooted from the spoils of America's Civil War. The Madison site provided the best of five possible sites that were offered.
The Women's Relief Corps (WRC) constructed the western most section of the township center on the site of the original wooden structure of the school in 1891. The name on the doorway arch is Ohio Cottage.
In 1904, WRC donated the building to the State of Ohio when the organization could no longer afford to maintain it. The Report to the Governor of the State of Ohio called the complex Home of the Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Their Wives, Mothers, Widows and Army Nurses.
The WRC Madison Home portion of the facility officially ceased operation June 30, 1962 when it was taken over by the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Corrections. Widows living in the Home either would be returned to their relatives or would be placed in private nursing homes under Aid to the Aged. Several of the residents were much saddened at the verdict, since they had no living relatives to look after their requirements.
In the 1960's, the institution was called Opportunity Village.A one-story addition connecting the other buildings was constructed, although another may have been built in 1989. Opportunity Village housed some selected honor inmates from Ohio Women's Reformatory in Marysville. These inmates worked as staff at the facility, learning skills as nurse's aids and other occupations.
It also became an extension of Apple Creek State Hospital and housed retarded women, most of whom could care for themselves. A joint project with the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, it was hoped that the slow learners and prisoners could be rehabilitated to live productive lives in society.
Also for a few months in 1964 it served as an extension of Cleveland State Hospital for aged, senile women.
Opportunity Village was closed in 1975 and the Lake County Commissioners purchased the building from the State of Ohio.
In the late 1970's Madison Township leased the facilities from the county to house its offices.
In 1981 Madison Township purchased the building from the county, with the understanding that the county would buy it back when Madison Township no longer had use for the facility. Later Madison Township became involved in designing a new Administration Complex to be located on Hubbard Road. Since the Lake County Commissioners had agreed to buy back the old facility, they did so, but had not decided it's fate.
The facility is on the National Historic Register and the county said it would do anything it could to save it.
In the 1980's, Lake County Administrator, Kenneth R Gautner admitted that demolition might be necessary since the facility, now two + buildings, does not meet required fire, electrical and plumbing codes.
Aside from not meeting codes, some township employees, who have worked in the history-rich facility, indicate that there may be a few ghosts.
A newspaper advertisement appeared in the 1993 newspapers - For Rent: Historic building on Middle Ridge Road . . . can be leased cheap, caution - building may be haunted.
In 1998 the county commissioners agreed, according to the Plain Dealer, to sell the property to Mr. John Cassell for $28,500. It was Mr. Cassell who gave this author and editor a tour of part of the facility. He also owns the adjacent Cass-Mill Nurseries. He uses part of the complex for an office, and has allowed the Madison Historical Society some temporary storage and office space. It is listed in the auditor's office in 2003 as owned by Ohio Cottage Inc., although no sale was noted.
As genealogists, we are most interested in the facility when it functioned as the Madison Home. This author's conjecture on the Madison Homeis that it was to Madison Township, Lake County, Ohio in a parallel manner as Berea Children's home in Berea, Ohio and the Soldiers' and Sailors Home in Sandusky serve other particular areas of the State of Ohio. All three facilities were established to facilitate caring for people whose lives were disrupted by the Civil War. The Ohio State Legislature was the governing force behind the establishment of these facilities.
Of greater interest for genealogical purposes are the people who came and went from the Madison Home in the time period 1891-1962 when the Women's Relief Corps operated the facility.
All the above information has been gleaned from newspaper articles from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Press, The Madison Press, The News Report of Lake County, The News Herald of Lake County; Lake County Historical Society, Ohio Historical Society and Extracts of the Ohio State Legislature.
Madison Seminary 1847-1891, 44 Years
Madison Home 1891-1962, 71 Years
Opportunity Village 1962-1975, 13 Years
Madison Township Office Building 1978-1992, 14 Years
Cleveland District Trustee, Ohio Genealogical Society
Photo by: BILL WEST / Star Beacon.
Everyone have a safe and happy Halloween...............peace zane