Currently surrounded by a parking lot and a few close buildings, the original Anchorage (Putnam Villa) was secluded and sat overlooking the entire town of Marietta, Ohio and the two intersecting rivers of Ohio River and Muskingum River. This mansion was to be the perfect homestead for the wealthy Putnam family but the dream home would quickly turn to a nightmare with tragedy and death.
Imagine waiting ten years to move into your dream home, watching it slowly being constructed from afar and dreaming that one day you’d be calling this magnificent mansion your home – only to move in and die in less than 3 years. This is exactly what happened to Eliza Whipple Putnam. The second wife to Douglas Putnam, Eliza passed away from heart disease, in the very home that her husband constructed for her, in 1862.
Douglas Putnam was a successful investor and entrepreneur in the years prior to the Civil War. Douglas became known as a real estate, banking, and railroad mogul in short order after very smart investment moves put him at the top of his business. He was a lead activist in bringing the first railroad to Marietta, OH from Parkersburg, WV. He then purchased land all along the rail line and sold them to the highest bidders turning an impressive and quick profit.
In 1849, the Putnam’s commissioned the construction of their home on Putnam Avenue. It was to be called Putnam Place and was modeled after Eliza’s dream home based on a Tuscan villa style that mainly appeared in the New England region. The mansion was to cost $65,000 (nearly equivalent to $1.7 million in today’s comparisons) and comprised of 22 rooms and a grand tower. The massive walls were made from 24” thick sandstone taken from the area. Elaborate 12–foot ceilings, ornate wooden moldings and a marble fireplace showed off the luxurious life the Putnam’s were lucky enough to live. Tall windows would flood natural light, showing off Victorian era furniture and expensive oriental rugs.
The dream home was only supposed to take five years to complete. The construction lagged with the impending tensions which would ultimately lead to the Civil War and this threw Eliza into a depression just simply watching and waiting for her home to be constructed.
After ten long years, double the original timetable, the Putnam’s dream house was complete. In 1859 Douglas and Eliza were finally able to call Putnam Place their home. After a little less than three years of living blissfully in their mansion, Eliza fell sick and died abruptly with a case of acute heart disease.
Douglas could not withstand living at the mansion alone and sold it to the highest bidder in 1894. The Knox family purchased the mansion and promptly redesigned the original driveway to appear as an anchor. The Knox’s were heavily involved in boat building and they wanted this massive property to reflect their lives. At this point, they re-named the mansion the Anchorage.
After the Knox family moved on in 1960, a nursing home was established and utilized the mansion itself to house patients. At that time, they altered the name and called it the Christian Anchorage. The nursing home renovated the grand staircase to incorporate rubber tile steps to decrease the threats of patients slipping and falling. The transition of the third floor still remains mysterious to this day. There are large rooms with lower ceilings, barely tall enough to stand in even crouched over. It is unknown what the purpose of this area was at any point of the history of the house.
By 1986, the nursing home fell into disrepair without appropriate funding and they donated it (for $1) to the Washington County Historical Society. The historical society has just recently turned over ownership to Hidden Marietta where the organization will attempt to raise funds to revitalize the house and save a part of history.
Knowing that Eliza Putnam waiting 20% of her life just to get into her dream home only to perish inside that very home a short time later, it’s no wonder why her ghostly figure can be seen around the Anchorage. It would appear, and be completely understandable, that her spirit never left the estate. Eliza is commonly seen staring out of windows, standing on staircases, and pacing inside the main tower. She appears in a long white flowing dress looking distraught or depressed.
These sightings of Eliza first began when the renovations started to turn the mansion into a nursing home. The grand staircase and third floor construction possibly stirred her up since she is the one who designed the house.
However, Eliza is not the only spirit to roam the halls of the Anchorage. It was during this same time that a young African American boy was spotted wandering the halls and basement of the building. It is not known who he could be but he has been known to move things and cause mischief on occasion. This boy is also known to sob loudly as he moves about the house.
Throughout the house, in particular the bedrooms and staircases, another unknown soul is told to stroll about. A young girl with golden curly hair, a white dress, and a yellow bonnet has been seen on the staircase and in Eliza’s room. There has been a bright white light that gleams from the corner of Eliza’s walk in closet and sometimes on the balcony of her room. This is also said to be the same little girl.
On the third floor, barely tall enough to walk in, a former owner Eddie McTaggart is said to host card games and dances. Loud shuffling and footsteps can be heard which does in fact sound like someone dancing. Occasionally inaudible shouts, celebrations, and chairs banging echo from the same location.
On more than one occasion, visitors and volunteers who have spent ample time in the house have captured EVP’s and photographs which were unable to be discredited.