It was a mild February morning in 2016 when I sat down with Al Luna of Paranormal Spirit Encounter Investigations (PSEI) to discuss his experiences inside the famed Chadwick Inn.
We sat in the corner booth of Rudy’s Hot Dog on Airport Highway for some coffee, breakfast, and paranormal chit-chat. Knowing Al’s reputation for being one of Toledo’s best storytellers and ghost tour operators, I knew it would be a good tale. I just didn’t know how good.
He took a sip of coffee, adjusted the brim of his trademark cowboy hat, took a few seconds to gather his thoughts as he peered off into the distance out the large window next to us, and then settled in to walk me through a gruesome encounter that occurred nearly 30 years ago.
In 1975, a terrible fire had ripped through the Governor’s Inn, gutting the third floor completely and severely damaging the second. The damage – fire, smoke, and water – was so extensive that the business never completely recovered. So, in 1983, the Governor’s Inn closed its doors for good.
Some years later, the property was sold at auction and this is where Al Luna enters the story.
Still bearing the scars from the fire years before, Al was hired to gut the building and prepare it for remodeling. Everything had to go. Walls, flooring, fixtures, all of it. The whole interior of the building had to be stripped down to its bare studs. It was a dirty, noisy, intense job.
The neighborhood surrounding the ruined building took notice of the efforts being made and appreciated that something was finally being done to restore the Inn to its former glory. But, perhaps, they weren’t the only ones to take notice. Perhaps something else took notice as well.
Al recounted the time he and another were at work on the second floor, ripping out plaster, lath wall, and tearing up the carpet and newspaper padding underneath it. While he went about his work, he clearly remembers the chilled feeling of a cold jet of air moving across his neck and back of his arm. To be sure the building had its share of drafty areas, thanks to their tear-out efforts, but this was different. This cold feeling, it was almost as if it moved with purpose; direction.
And that’s when he heard it, the soft whisper of what sounded like a woman’s voice. It was as if someone was standing right next to him, speaking delicately just inches away from his ear.
Thinking it was his workmate goofing around behind him, Al turned to tell him to knock it off only to find he wasn’t there. From a second-story window, Al could clearly see his workmate outside in the parking lot by the dumpster, tossing out a pile of demolition debris. If he had been all alone on the second floor, who was it that whispered in his ear?
This would not be the only time Al would experience weirdness while working inside the old Governor’s Inn.
At day’s end, the two workers would neatly stack and arrange their tools in the corner of the room on the main floor. Al would cover the tools with a sheet in order to hide them from the view of any curiosity-seekers who might peek through one of the building’s many windows when they weren’t around.
On at least two occasions, they would arrive to work the next day to find the sheet had been removed and was laying, folded neatly, in the middle of the floor. Thinking the building’s owner was playing a trick, Al called and asked if he had been there and, each time, the answer was no.
As mysterious and odd as his experiences inside the building have been, nothing could have prepared Al for what he discovered in the basement.
The basement of the Governor’s Inn was a space that had always been under-utilized. The low ceiling made it virtually impossible to stand up straight and the dirt floor was a complete eyesore. The general filth of it made the thought of storing anything down there a bad idea.
So, in addition to all the other demolition work to be done, the new owner of the building also decided the basement floor needed to be dug out in order to provide more standing room. And, in time, a proper basement floor could be poured.
When it came time for Al and his co-worker to begin work in the basement, it didn’t take long for the two men to realize they were removing more than just dirt.
Every so often, their shovels would turn up a chunk of the earthen floor that was embedded with all kinds of interesting trinkets and pieces of the past – old coins, arrowheads, and the like. And, then, Al’s shovel connected with something hard and metallic.
From out of the dirt he pulled what he first thought was an old cannonball. Then he noticed the chain attached to it. His eyes followed the length of chain and saw it was connected to what looked like a shackle, still half-buried in the earth.
The two of them began clearing more dirt from around it and, to their horror, saw that it was still, after all these years, locked around the remains of a human leg bone.
Needless to say, all work stopped. Phone calls to the owner were frantically made and he, in turn, notified the police. Once they arrived on scene, the entire property was shut down and off-limits for the duration of their investigation. Al Luna never set foot here again. At least, not as a laborer.
Because of these experiences, Al Luna’s relationship with the building that would become known as the Chadwick Inn was transformed forever. It was his experiences here, so long ago, that propelled him into a passionate exploration of the unknown and a dedication to helping others who are besieged by paranormal troubles.
Even though the building will forever be known to folklore as the Chadwick Inn, it does, in fact, have a new name now. Several years ago, Degaje Jazz Cafe opened its doors here and has quickly become of one of the area’s most popular venues for good food and entertainment.
(Originally published on the Haunted Toledo Facebook page on October 26, 2016)