Halloween: Cincinnati Dent Schoolhouse Recalls the Dead

PHOTO: Formerly a school, the Dent Schoolhouse, which shut down in the fifties, became a haunted house 20 years ago.

Charlie the janitor can be spotted (whether ethereally or in real life, we'll never know) hobbling along the corridors of the Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati. But don't stare at his mangled face for too long: He might think you're taunting him and he doesn't like that.

The first students to taunt him in 1942 went missing and were never found until 1955, when an angry mob discovered their bodies and several others in Charlie's basement, decaying and disfigured. The students' remains were sealed in barrels, wedged behind the brick walls of the basement, and left in sanitary tubs to decay forever.

After a two-week search, Charlie was said to have left the town but is rumored to still stalk the schoolhouse, terrorizing those foolish enough to visit.

This legend haunts Dent, but the tale is more than a fable for the people of the town. The schoolhouse used to be an actual school when it was first built in 1894. The rustic red brick building was the site where children were killed in the '50s, according to town legend.

Bud Stross, co-owner of the Dent Schoolhouse, says the air of spookiness isn't just a feeling. "It's definitely haunted. …Cincinnati police haven't confirmed it but I think they're just trying to forget," Stross says.

The school shut down in the '50s because of the children's deaths, Stross says. It became a haunted house 20 years ago, and it raked in 30,000 visitors last year.

Interested "students" can take a tour of the spectral school beginning in the eerily empty playground and then make their way into the building. As they roam corridors and peer into classrooms, they'll get a peak of a chilling reminder not to mess with Charlie. Scrawled on the chalkboards is the line, written over and over, "I will not taunt the janitor."

Charlie isn't the only spook. Teachers and cafeteria workers still roam the hallways of the deserted building, scaring visitors as they go. But the basement is perhaps the most frightening. It presents a gruesome look at what happened to the ill-fated children, complete with all the blood and gore you could ever wish for.

The tours began in late September and will continue through October, Thursday to Sunday.

But should you visit, a word of caution: Visitors should be on their best behavior. Miscreants, rather than getting sent to the principal's office instead go to Charlie's basement, and they rarely return.

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