Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oak Hill Cottage

Oak Hill Cottage from Mansfield Tourism

Oak Hill was built by John Robinson in 1847 on a hill overlooking the town of Mansfield, Ohio, close by the railroad he had helped to build. Robinson and his family lived at Oak Hill until 1861, and five of his twelve children were born there.

Dr. Johannes Aten Jones bought the Gothic Revival home in 1864 at the urging of his bride, Frances. Author Louis Bromfield played at Oak Hill Cottage as a child and wrote about the house in his 1924 novel "The Green Bay Tree," calling it "Shane’s Castle."

The property was divided and sold in 1923 after the eldest Jones daughter, Ida, died. Leile, another of the Jones' daughters, moved back into the house in 1947, and sold the cottage and its contents to the Richland County Historical Society in 1965.

Now it's a museum, open for tours and sightseeing - and there are more things in Oak Hill Cottage than meet the eye.

First, there are the usual sensory phenomena. Visitors claim to feel a stifling presence of someone watching them, some even suffering panic attacks, and other oddities, such as the lights on the chandelier flickering on and off. And that's just the starting point.

One ghost reported is that of an elderly female, wearing period clothing, most often seen on the main stairway. If you spot her, never fear - she's said to be friendly and seems happy to see visitors admiring her home; she may even welcome you. It's supposed that she's Frances Jones, who truly loved the cottage.

She's also been seen fluffing the pillows and dusting in the cottage rooms, still a neat housekeeper after all these years (some say it's an old maid still doing her duty, but we prefer to agree with those who think it's Frances, keeping her pride and joy homestead up to snuff).

Other spooks are more site specific.

A back stairway leads a small landing, one which is reportedly frequented by the spirit of a young boy dressed in white stockings and knee pants. He's thought to be the shadow of one of the Robinson's sons who died in the home and spent his days playing on the landing.

In the basement, the apparition of an old man haunts the furnace area, and he has a bad vibe. No one can quite identify him, but it's no wonder he's ornery, being stuck in the cellar for all eternity.

Stop in if you get the chance. The house has a great history, and you may get to take in more than the furniture and art. You may be lucky enough to meet an old inhabitant or two.

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