About thirty minutes from bustling downtown Cleveland lies Punderson Manor. The land here was originally settled by Lemuel Punderson and his wife Sybil. The Pundersons operated a grist mill as well as a distillery. After their deaths, the Punderson family sold the land to W.B. Cleveland whose heirs sold it to Detroit millionaire Karl Long in 1929.
History of Punderson
The story of Punderson dates back to the ice age. Punderson Lake is about 90 acres and about 85 feet deep in some areas making it one of the deepest glacial lakes in the Cleveland area. In 1795, General Moses Cleveland (G.M. Cleveland) stumbled upon the area naming it ‘The Western Reserve.”
In 1806, Lemuel Punderson traveled from Connecticut and also surveyed the area, settling what is now Newbury, Ohio. Lemuel met Sybil and married her in the autumn of 1808. Lemuel built a cabin for his workers who were to build his distillery and grist mill. He and his wife soon moved into the original cabin to be closer to the mill. Over the next twelve years, Lemuel and Sybil had six children of their own. Lemuel passed away in 1822 from complications of malaria, even though rumors swirl that he rowed a bathtub to the middle of the pond and pulled the plug, drowning. Sybil and their children continued to develop the area, changing the name of the pond to “Punderson Pond” in honor of Lemuel.
Sybil died in 1872, the property owned by the Punderson estate. It was stated clearly that no one owned the rights to Punderson Pond so it was used for recreational purposes and enjoyed by residents from all over the area. In 1885, James E. Wales started construction on a building that was later called the Wales Hotel, located on the south end of the property. In 1887, the hotel officially opened and was operated by Wales and his wife. The hotel was beautiful, complete with a dining hall, banquet rooms, overnight accommodations, music, fishing and boating piers, and even fireworks over the pond. The hotel was open to the public and enjoyed for 20 years.
In 1902, W.B. Cleveland started to purchase land around Punderson Pond after he visited the area and the Wales Hotel as a child, envisioning it as a private hunting and fishing estate to be enjoyed by the wealthy.
In 1904, his dreams started to come to fruition when he started to break ground on what was called the “Big House” which is where Punderson Manor stands today. W.B. Cleveland acquired 500 acres of the property, but he wasn’t satisfied. He took up legal action to purchase the rights to Punderson Pond, which was owned by Punderson descendant, Ella. He won and acquired rights to the pond, his stake totaling 505 acres.
In the early 1920s, W.B. Cleveland was no longer able to care for the property after falling ill. It was sold to Dr. E. Coppedge and then contracted to Karl Long, who ended up building a 43-room English Style Tudor Mansion, beginning construction in 1925 — this is the Punderson Manor seen today.
The property eventually ended up in the hands of the state, and the manor was opened as a lodge after thorough renovations. The lodge is open to this day, year-round as a recreational haven for Ohio residents.
Punderson’s Unexplained Phenomena
With a history so extensive, one must assume that a few spirits have lingered on the property. The property meant so much to the Punderson ancestors, to W.B. Cleveland, his wife, and anyone who visited. So let’s jump right into the hauntings of this massive Tudor manor!
Reports of strange phenomena started in the 1970s when park employees and visitors started to experience weird goings-on.
A park ranger, making rounds throughout the building said that he heard a disembodied woman’s voice and laughter as he climbed the circular staircase from the resort’s main lobby to the second floor. At the exact same time, the area he was in dropped about 10 degrees. He said he felt like the cold engulfed him, and once the laughter stopped, the hallway returned to its normal temperature.
Countless employees of the lodge report strange and frankly, annoying occurrences such as fireplaces going out, flying pencils, doors opening and closing, as well as faucets being turned on and off by unseen hands. Sometimes staff would become so irritated that they would yell at the ghosts to stop, which they would, but only for a day or two.
A restaurant hostess was dozing in the employee lounge when she said she was awakened by the sounds of children laughing and running around the couch she was on. Of course, no children were in the room.
These all seem like harmless happenings, but perhaps the most terrifying event of all occurred in 1979 when three front-desk staff members were chatting.
One employee left to make coffee in the kitchen and returned moments later to urge the others to come and get a drink. The three of them were walking through the room that is now Punderson Manor’s lounge, and they all witnessed an apparition dressed as a lumberjack hanging by the neck from the rafters, hanging and swinging for three hours, the employees stunned and watching until the sun rose and the image slowly faded away.
More recently, a manager told of a couple who checked into the resort’s Windsor Suite, which is said to be the most haunted. Moments after check-in, the husband came downstairs, disturbed, and stated that ‘my wife is a very stable person, but she insists on leaving at once.’
The husband told the manager that as soon as the couple got to their room, his wife laid down on the bed. That is where her husband found her, seconds later, her face is extreme terror. She told him ‘get me off of this bed, they’re holding me down and I can’t move.’ He took her hands, easily lifting her. She told him later it felt like several people were sitting on top of her, trapping her on the bed.
Frequently, lodge guests call down to the front desk to complain of loud noises in rooms that end up being unoccupied. One guest actually called to report a party going on above him — but he was on the top floor.
Countless other reports have come from guests and staff of the manor, including tugging blankets as they sleep, glowing lights in rooms and hallways, cloud-like formations hovering over the bed, cold spots, belongings being moved, and more.
Are you brave enough to visit Punderson Resort and Lodge? If so, the lodge is open year-round and is available for reservations! Perhaps you’ll leave with a ghost story of your own!