6769 Middle Ridge Road
Madison Township, OH 44057
The beautiful and well-kept Madison Seminary overlooks the majority of neighboring farmland in Madison, Ohio. Little known to the passerby is that the old building has a long and tenured history steeped with pure emotion stemming from the origination of students’ lives to Civil War loss and even the free labor of female inmates. There was an unrecorded amount of deaths following the Civil War, many were based on suicides. Once the building transitioned into a home for the disabled and inmates work-release location, more accidental deaths occurred but because this was a state-run facility at that point – these deaths were brushed aside and hidden from the public. As time wore on and more legislation was put in place, the building was used to help house the additional police force then a complete abandonment and risked being torn down even though it was attributed on the historic list. Many claim the old seminary is teeming with remnant energy and hauntings throughout the ages. Guests from different walks of life claim to experience similar unearthly activity regularly leading many in the paranormal field to flock to Madison Seminary to experience this for themselves.
Originally built as a high school and college, the main wooden structure of the Madison Seminary was constructed in 1847. As the school enrollment grew, so did the seminary structure. Right before the Civil War, in 1859, a large brick building was added to the original building and acted as housing for nearly 150 students. The seminary plateaued in enrollment and took a sudden plunge in the late 1800’s. By 1891, Madison Seminary was abandoned.
Fortunately, a buyer was waiting at the ready in late 1891; Madison Township. The county board attempted to get the building condemned and demolished as it did not meet current standards, but they were declined; and the Ohio Women’s Relief Corps took ownership of the property. The goal was to house survivors of the Civil War, with specific regard to the nurses, widows, children, and other abandoned family members of the great war. The building was renamed the Madison Home. A brand-new wing was added and the entire former seminary was remodeled.
One of the more infamous residents from this era was Elizabeth Stiles. Elizabeth became one of the first Union spies after her husband, Jacob Stiles, was murdered by Confederate revolutionaries right in front of her in their home in Kansas. Elizabeth used disguises and her own children to help her gain information of the Confederate strong holds and whereabouts. She actually confided directly in President Abraham Lincoln with her information. Elizabeth was so crafty that she even managed to pull a double cross and convince Confederate captors that she was a Confederate spy, gaining a horse and gun from the Confederate soldiers. After gaining a reputation and notoriety, she had to retire from her spy career in 1864. As she grew old, Elizabeth’s son took care of her until she became unmanageable and moved into the Madison Home in 1895. Elizabeth Stiles lived in the former seminary until her death in 1898.
As the organization ran out of their limited funding, they donated the building to the state of Ohio in 1904. The state opened a similar home for widows and other needy family members of Ohio veterans, and renamed the structure, “Home of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Their Wives, Mothers, Widows, and Army Nurses”. The operation lasted until 1962.
The Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Corrections took control of the building in late 1962. The widows and family members left from the previous ownership were transferred back to their families or to other local nursing homes. During this time, it was renamed Opportunity Village. The goal was to house selected female inmates from the Marysville Women’s Reformatory and the Ohio Women’s Reformatory who were said to be on good behavior and deserved time away. However, the inmates were simply put to work as staff members serving disabled and rehabilitating women from the nearby Apple Creek State Hospital and the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Two years into the program, the Cleveland State Hospital was added to those being housed in Opportunity Village, these inmates were more psychologically disabled. However, by 1975, the inmates were all removed, and the building was closed.
The local Madison County police force occupied the building in the mid 1980’s and, in the process, they disposed of all of the existing furniture, artwork, and décor by burning them behind the building. They controlled the building for a short period of time, moving on in the early 1990’s.
Purchasing the property for cheap in 2016, Adam Kimmell has been striving toward preserving the old Madison Seminary. He has been slowly renovating the building and ultimately has been saving the history and stories behind it.
The current owner is actually a seasoned paranormal investigator, part of the reason he purchased the old seminary. He has had many experiences in the building himself. When cleaning up or renovating, he has heard phantom footsteps and knocks throughout the house, in no particular room. His name has been called out when no one else is around and he has had electronics turn on and off on him.
Guests have reported a woman singing, so clear that they actually thought one of the tour guides were serenading them. During these tours, guests have claimed to hear their names called out and have heard shouts of help echoing from empty rooms. Sometimes, during flashlight tours, the flashlights themselves with black out, followed by sudden bursts of air when all windows and doors are closed.
One particular room, with toys spread across the floor, is said to be haunted by a young girl named Sarah. She has been said to openly communicate with guests. An older man is also said to watch over her from afar, either from outside the room or down the hall from Sarah’s room.
Other odd noises have not only been reported, but also captured on video and recorders. Sounds of whistling and singing have backed up guests’ claims. But more oddly, and unnerving, are the sounds of chains dragging across the floor and rattling when there is no clear explanation in site or earshot.
Some of this activity has been attributed to the women who lived most of their lives here following the Civil War and the loss of their loved ones, others have been linked to the psychotic and dangerous inmates from the women’s penitentiaries who simply refuse to leave the closest thing to freedom that they ever knew while being locked up and forced to slave away under the iron fists of their guards.