(Orig. Published 6/2003)
Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery is home to the busiest ghost in Ohio–that of the 20th U.S. President James A. Garfield. Garfield was in office for only a few months before he was shot by Charles Guiteau at a Washington train station on July 2nd, 1881. The assassin’s bullet did not kill Garfield immediately. Three months later, on September 19, 1881, Garfield died from infection as a result of his wounds. He was 49 years old. Guiteau was hung the following year.
Following Garfield’s untimely demise, a committee was formed for the purpose of building a permanent monument for the fallen president. Construction was finished in May, 1890.
The building is considered to be the country’s first true mausoleum. It serves as both a crypt and memorial for Garfield and his family.
The exterior of the monument is quite large and impressive. It contains a sandstone terrace, five bas relief panels depicting Garfield’s life (as a teacher, soldier, senator, president, and in death), an observation deck, and even picnic tables along the sides.
The monument’s interior is equally impressive, with its stained glass windows, mosaic tiles and marble stairs. In the center of the memorial hall stands a marble statue of James A. Garfield. The monument also contains several winding stairways and passages leading to the balcony, observation deck, ballroom, and unknown locations.
Directly beneath this hall is Garfield’s tomb.
The monument is allegedly haunted by Garfield’s ghost. People have reported seeing “strange lights” inside the monument. It is even rumored that the ghosts of Garfield and Rockefeller (whose massive monument is located nearby) engage in an on-going game of chess, using the cemetery’s tombstones as their chess pieces.
If that is the case, then Garfield’s ghost is quite busy. He is also rumored to haunt his former home in Hiram, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C., where he and the ghost of Guiteau have been seen in the basement.
Below, the spiral staircase leading to Garfield’s tomb (and the restrooms!).
At least two passages are locked off, including this one on the right. It is not known where all of the passages lead, although the monument does contain a ballroom, which has been closed to the public since 1994.
The bronze caskets of President Garfieldand his wife Lucretia.
The urns contain the cremated remains of the Garfields’ daughter, Molly Garfield Stanley-Brown (right), and her husband, Joseph Stanley-Brown. She was 14 years old when her father died. She later passed in 1947 at the age of 80. Joseph died a few years earlier.
To the left of the urns, in front of Lucretia’s crypt, are 2 “orbs.” However, we suspect that these are really dust particles reflected off the camera’s flash.