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Gore Orphanage is the name used by some residents of the greater Cleveland, Ohio, area to refer to a legendary and supposedly haunted ruin near the city of Vermilion in Lorain County, Ohio. The ruin, actually that of the Swift Mansion and later the Light of Hope Orphanage, is the subject of some local urban legends about the violent deaths of young children and resulting supernatural activity.

Contents

Legend

Swift Mansion was originally a mansion built in 1840 by Johnathan Swift. Years later, it became the Light of Hope Orphanage, where many children learned farm and agricultural skills. The owner, "Old Man Swift", was widely known for his terrible demeanor and cruel treatment of the children. He was rumored to have killed many of them before putting their remains into the fireplace. One night, long after the orphanage had fallen into disuse, the mansion was set on fire and the children's screams could be heard for miles around. The fire was rumored to have been started by "Old Man Swift" - a notion that has remained unproven. It is said that if you go to the building's foundation today, you can still hear the sound of children screaming or pleading for help, the great door of Swift's mansion opening and closing, and the footsteps of "Old Man Swift." Another rumor about Gore Orphanage was that a young boy went out to use an outhouse, and accidentally dropped his lantern. This caught the house on fire, killing one hundred children and himself.

While frequently referred to as "Gore Orphanage", this name actually derives from the nearby road "Gore Orphanage Road", which was originally named "Gore Road" after the gore.[1]

History

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Swift Mansion

The house that now lies in ruins near the supposed site of Gore Orphanage was a former mansion built between 1840 and 1842 by Johnathan Swift, a wealthy Massachusetts farmer. Named Rosedale, but nicknamed "Swift's Folly" for being located at the bottom of a ravine named Swift's Hollow, the mansion was ornate and considered one of the most fashionable in the state. Swift invested his earnings and life savings into worthless railroad stock, however, and was forced to sell the house to New Yorker Nicholas Wilber, the leader of a group of Spiritualists.

It is with the Wilber family's tenure at the mansion that the disturbing stories that would become the "Gore Orphanage" legend probably first arose[2]. Local oral history is unanimous about the Wilbers' hosting elaborate seances at the mansion, and allegedly they frequently contacted the spirits of young children. In addition, four of the Wilber children died over the course of seven days at the height of a diphtheria epidemic.

While the Wilber children were buried in a local graveyard, area residents claimed that the children were buried at the Swift Mansion. Further, exaggerations grew that all four children "died in their mother's arms" and that she subsequently "went insane, setting the tables in the places for the dead children and beckoning them to go to bed."

Nicholas Wilber died in 1901 and the house sat vacant. Soon after, people from around the area began sneaking into the house to examine it, vandalize it, and render it an urban legend. Later, children would be challenged to sleep in the house without being haunted by "the children". The house began to slip into disrepair soon after the public fascination and abuse began, and was slowly torn apart. It wasn't until 1923, when efforts to restore the manor began, that the house was further vandalized and set ablaze. The culprit was never found. Since then, it has been continually vandalized and remains a popular hang-out for teenagers.

Light of Hope Orphanage

The details of the Light of Hope Orphanage have become entwined with the local legend of the Swift mansion because of the extremely short distance between them and their many similarities.

Reverend John Sprunger, a Lutheran minister from Bern, Indiana, bought many abandoned farms in 1902 and set up the Light of Hope Orphanage. It was funded by his congregation and the good will of others. The institution was created to teach orphans the value of hard work and train them in farming and housework. It operated uneventfully for twelve years. Swift's mansion was supposedly used as one of the boys' dormitories, but this has not been documented.

After Sprunger's death, the orphanage fell into disarray and never recovered from personal or financial loss. It was soon bankrupt and disbanded, and the children were relocated. Legend relates that one of the dormitories may have burned down and an unknown number of children died, but local historians dispute this ever happening, and that it is simply a mistaken tie-in with the incidents at Swift's Hollow.

Present day

The building is, today, part of the Lorain County Metroparks. A park ranger's station is located just up the road from the location and explorers are often found and told to leave the area.

References

  1. ^ DeadOhio page
  2. ^ Ellis, Bill. "What Really Happened at Gore Orphanage" Lorain Public Library. August 10, 2007 <http://www.lorainpubliclibrary.com>.

Further reading

  • Mark Moran and Mark Scuerman (2004). Weird U.S.. Barnes and Noble. ISBN 0-7607-5043-2.  

External links

Coordinates: 41°21′10″N 82°20′01″W / 41.3528°N 82.3335°W / 41.3528; -82.3335


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