Ever since college, I've found Kent, Ohio to be quite lovely. It isn't a huge city, but maintains a lot of its history and has so much to see, do, and enjoy. Too many towns and cities tear down their historic buildings. Kent has lost some gems, but still keeps as much as it possibly can.
During a meeting of the paranormal group last week, we dined at a wonderful restaurant I've been to several times over the last decade: The Pufferbelly Ltd. It's an old railroad depot converted into a restaurant which has been in business for 26 years. I was quite surprised to learn that it also has a resident ghost, known as "Charlie".
Kent Railway Station was originally constructed in 1875 to service the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad, which began running through the town (then known as Franklin Mills) in 1863. It was designed and built by Marvin Kent, a local businessman whom the town was renamed after the following year. It was later used by the Erie Railroad and finally fell into disrepair in the mid 1900s. In 1971, the Kent Historical Society was formed to save the depot from demolition. It was fully restored in the late 1970s.
"Charlie" is an unidentified spirit who haunts the entire building. Manager Kevin Long gave him the nickname at random and his real identity remains unknown. There is nothing dangerous or threatening about the presence, and workers actually enjoy the ethereal company. There are many interesting historical aspects of the building which still need further investigation and hopefully I'll have a chance to shed a little more light on some possibly "colorful" history.
Not far from the depot is the Cuyahoga River. Just below the depot in the water, you can still see the remains of a canal lock. This was the Lower Lock of the Pennsylvania & Erie Canal which ran from Akron into Pennsylvania near Warren, Ohio. The canal was in operation from 1840 until the 1870s when the railroad made it obsolete. Across the river once sat a tannery as well. it was run my a well-known abolitionist and used to hide runaway slaves. Could these bits of the past be connected with the haunting? Perhaps.
The restaurant itself is highly recommended. They serve wonderful food at fair prices. And if you've been there before and find that one of your favorites is no longer on the menu? No problem. Simply call them with some advanced notice (perhaps a week, to be safe), and they will be sure to have it for you when you arrive. That's what I call service! If you wish, you can sit beneath a surrey mounted from the ceiling in the bar area. It is believed to have once carried President Garfield. Or dine in the southern sining room, which was a dining room when when the depot was first constructed (the kitchen was also the kitchen at that time, but don't worry... they have updated equipment since then).
I will say this: I definitely plan on returning to the restaurant soon and hopefully seeing what else I can find.