The owners of the Warehouse on the Canal, which doubles as their home and business, cater to others with a passion for hauntings.
Ghosts, goblins and zombies are on everyone’s minds this time of year, but Ken and Margarita Roberts think “ghosts” year ‘round. The owners of the Warehouse on the Canal, which doubles as their home and business, cater to others with a passion for hauntings.
“Most people that go on a ghost hunt or ghost walk don’t really expect to see a ghost,” Ken said.
But that’s not the case in the Roberts’ historic building along the Ohio and Erie Canal, where spiritual run-ins are startlingly common. Besides the two of them, they aren’t sure how many others still inhabit the warehouse. Many have used the space before them.
The warehouse was built
in 1906 by the Finefrock brothers and has always provided some kind of service to the community, Ken said.
It was initialy a furniture store until 1967, when it became a central grocery and a hardware store. From the early 1980s until the Roberts bought it in 2002, the building housed a variety of small businesses including a karate studio and a boat repair facility.
The second floor serves as the Roberts’ home, and the street level, which includes two large rooms and a separate bar area, is used to host events.
The “spirits” are not contained to the bar area. Many have witnessed spirits of a different nature throughout the building, especially in the basement area, which was an active mortuary from 1916 to 1936.
Both believers and non believers have seen, felt and experienced a ghostly presence in the building. The Roberts tell stories of hearing people go up and down the steps when no one is there but them.
“When we first were moving in and I was here painting, I would hear doors shut and an elevator door open and close,” Ken said. “I thought it was Margarita coming back, but she was nowhere in the building.”
An employee of the company that sold the building to the Roberts came back to visit and asked, “Have you met them yet?”
“When he asked her who, she said, ‘The ghosts,’” Margarita said.
The real estate agent who sold the building told them customers would insist there was a person standing on either side of them, saying that the whole time they were there, they felt a presence.
The Roberts have many stories to tell.
“One day we had a CD playing reggae music, and all of a sudden it began playing classical music and then switched back,” Ken said. “People have seen cups move and felt things like a cat rubbing against their legs.”
Margarita had some interaction in a basement office while working one day.
“I knew nothing about ghosts, but I could feel this person there hanging over my shoulder. I did not want to move,” she said. “I called Ken on the phone and told him to come over because something was going on. He came over and we just got out of there. I swear there was someone breathing on me.”
Page 2 of 3 - It was the day after that experience that someone asked if it was true that they had ghosts in the building. Margarita said jokingly, “Sure, I just want to see them so I can give them a vacuum cleaner and say ‘Here, do something.’” It was then that she felt a slap across her face.
“It was so hard that I went to the mirror to see if there were marks on my face,” she said. “I told no one about it except Ken.”
A few weeks later, Margarita found a woman sitting in the tea room of the building. She said she was there to give Margarita a message: “He wants to apologize for scaring you when you were in the basement. He was just curious as to what you were doing and also he is sorry for slapping you. He says that will never happen again.”
As a result of the strength and frequency of spiritual happenings, the Roberts have designed a non-traditional ghost tour.
“Our ghost tours are different here. We use a medium,” said Ken. “Helen Mayor has been doing this for 50 years. She loves what she is doing.”
Mayor said the Warehouse is the most haunted place she’s ever been in.
“It is a good haunted though,” she said. “There is nothing scary there. It is all good."
But when she first started going to the tearoom at the Warehouse, Ken told her that people claimed they had been hit or punched. He said he did not know anything about spirits and he was not sure what was going on. He wanted her to go to the basement.
"I went down into the basement and Lester was angry because people were not respectful of the fact that it was once a working mortuary,” Mayor said. “To him, it was an insult, because you respect the dead."
She said she has had many people go through the tour and tell her how much they enjoyed it because it was educational, not terrifying.
Their tours focus on spiritual journeys.
"Like it or not, we are going to be there in the end,” Ken said. “If you believe in a spiritual existence, we are someday going to look back and realize we were going the right way or we were going the wrong way.”
Mayor may have Lester put his hands on visitors during the tour in the hopes that they will feel his energy.
“We don't try to convince somebody, though,” Ken said. “If you don't want to believe, don't believe. We don't do séances or anything like that.”
Warehouse on the Canal, at 239 N. Canal St. in Canal Fulton, is offering a chance to see just what is happening Oct. 20. “An Evening with a Medium” begins at 8 p.m. Cost is $30 per person and includes dessert, coffee, iced tea and who knows what else.
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