Haunted Elevator

…a tale based on a few historic facts

some say you can still hear the crunching …down the shaft… down in the basement.

    Jimmy Murphy came to Kent from St. Clairsville in July 1928. He followed his brother Clyde who already had a job at the hotel. Clyde was a clerk at the front desk. When he heard they needed a new elevator operator why of course he called his younger brother Jimmy.

    Turns out the other operator quit. Couldn’t take it.  Felt the machine was out to get him…or some other such nonsense. Heard stories that one of the workman fell down the shaft when they were fitting it.
It was an Otis. Installed in 1920 when the hotel was built. It took a while to get used to. You had to set the stop your self,
then close the door, and guide the
motor to the floor. It took a steady hand, and you needed to keep a close eye on what you were doing.

    It wasn’t till 1924 that the first automatics arrived. But Cornelius Patchin was too cheap to install new ones, so they kept the old Otis—and it cost him his life. You see Cornelius took over the hotel when it went bust the first time in 1922. He was so tight he squeaked when he walked.

    Maybe the elevator didn’t like inspec-tions. It was right after an inspection that old Cornelius was killed. It was in April of 1924. He stepped into the elevator by himself…and just as he reached for the lever…the cable broke…the car fell 25 feet…down to the basement. His chest
and ribs were crushed. His skull cracked …just a pile of blood and bones, but still alive. Cornelius Patchin died that night at the County Hospital in Ravenna.

    The new owners didn’t bother with
the elevators. They were making money
…the ‘20’s were roaring. They too kept
the old Otis.

    That’s about the time when Jimmy arrived. He was 21 and thought he was
the bee’s knees. Everyone liked Jimmy. But it wasn’t long before he became the next victim of that elevator that had
already claimed two lives.

It was the morning of August 7th, 1928. Just two weeks after Jimmy Murphy arrived in Kent, the Rural Mail Carriers were in town for their convention, and the hotel was hopping…the rubes were looking to put an edge on. They asked me were to find some hooch. We kept the horse linament in the basement. I was the
runner. It was a good way to make a little extra Jack. 

    Jimmy gave me a ride down. We got to talking…I was just teasing, he seemed so keyed up being new, and on the level and all. I guess, maybe, I did want to scare him just a little…just having a little fun. I told him about the Otis man who fell down the shaft, and the sound he made when hit…thump. I told him about old man Cornelius and the broken cable…

    He said it didn’t scare him. All you had to do was jump up right when the car hit and you’d be in the air when the car hit bottom. We had a good laugh. He was a swell fella that Jimmy. He said the worse way to go would be to have the car crush your head. “Gave me the shivers just to think about it.”

Once in the basement, I tucked a couple bottles of juice in a suitcase and rang the bell for Jimmy. He was at the top.

    But first he stopped in the lobby to take a look around, checking for gate-crashers – the Feds. He had his neck stuck way out like this…looking this way and that, with one hand on the controls. Perhaps a choice bit of calico caught his eye. What- ever, Jimmy forgot what he was doing 
and leaned on the lever…had only been
on the job for 2 weeks.

    The car went down. The top of the
car met the floor with Jimmy’s head in between. There was a crunch. And then
a drip down in the basement where I was listening. Waiting. A steady drip, drip
down the shaft. You can still hear it if
you listen closely.

    He had left the door open. Maybe he was in a lather being new and all. Maybe
I shouldn’t have even have brought him in on the deal… maybe it wasn’t his fault at all. Maybe it was the elevator itself that killed him.


Too tough to crumble.
Too stubborn to fall down.
The old hotel that became
a brick pigeon coop, has its
best days still ahead of it.


and Quirky Tidbit:

The original bronze panel from
the old hotel’s elevator.
Doug Fuller salvaged it from the floor of the boarded up structure many years ago.

50237 manual operators panel


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