My Town Monday: Frankenstein’s Castle in Dayton

We’re going to check out the weird and maybe creepy this week on My Town Monday.

When I was a little kid, maybe seven or eight, my grandpa took me to Community Golf Course a few times while he practiced putting. After he finished, we always drove around the park, taking in the scenery and sights.

The tower as it appears today

Community borders Hills and Dales Park, a beautiful, historic landmark in and of itself with picturesque trails and picnic shelters. The park was a gift to the community from John H. Patterson in the early 20th century. Patterson Road cuts a winding path between the park and the golf course, and just a little ways north of its highest point sits a small stone tower.

The tower fascinated me as a kid, and I wanted to go inside, but it’s always been locked as far as I can remember. When I asked my grandpa why, he said someone had killed him/herself there.  I never got any vibes from it that the place might be haunted, and never really gave it much thought for years after that. But every now and then, I drive past, and wonder, so I decided to do some research.

I always just called it “that tower at Hills and Dales Park,” but it apparently has some much more evocative names. Most commonly, it’s called Frankenstein’s Castle. Some people refer to it as the “Witches’ Tower.” There’s a story behind its closing, too. My grandpa was right about someone dying there, although it’s questionable as to whether or not it was suicide. According to a newspaper article in the Daily Gazette (Xenia) on May 18,1967, a couple of teens from nearby Bellbrook took shelter in the tower during a thunderstorm. The Kettering Police got a phone call the evening before, about someone being injured at the tower. The young woman was found halfway up the stairs, dead, with extensive burns all over her face and chest, indicative of a lightning strike. The guy also had burns on his face, but survived. He couldn’t remember anything of the event, but others surmised he was coming down the stairs behind the girl when lightning struck the tower’s metal gate/door, sending a fireball up the interior steps.

This is what the tower looked like decades ago

No one seems certain of when the tower was built, but it’s been there since at least the 1930s. Some theorize that it was built  by the CCC during the Great Depression, to serve as a lookout tower. (I never realized it had once had a roof until I found the image below!)

And yes, some consider it haunted. There are accounts of people seeing lights in the narrow, vertical windows at night – not like someone’s in there with a flashlight, but small spots in the shape of a ball. The same people also saw a figure on top of the tower, that then ran down the interior steps and outside, then disappeared.

The same people returned a few days afterward, and saw a rope noose hanging out one of the tower’s windows. On another visit, they saw a shadowy figure in white hanging upside down from the noose. Other people report being chased across the road by the woman in white.

I’m skeptical by nature, so have trouble believing any of this. But then, I have never been to the tower after dark, which is of course when the creepy stuff always happens. Maybe I should try it some time?

If you live(d) in the Dayton area, have you ever been to the tower? Do you think there’s any truth to the stories? If you’re from elsewhere, do you have any weird, haunted landmarks like this in your hometown, and do you believe the stories?

Here’s some video of the tower today:

More at the My Town Monday blog

Contemporary tower photo via forgottenoh.com
Historic photo of tower by Rollyn Putterbaugh via fotki.com

10 Responses to \

  1. Maybe someone should call in Ghost Hunters to investigate. I am not against believing the stories but I also know people are prone to exaggerate. Sometimes the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

    Fun post to put everyone in the mood for the season!

  2. I’ve lived in the Dayton/Kettering area all my life and visited Frankenstien’s Castle several times during my “wild youth” in the late 70’s, early 80’s…during this time you could still atually get inside and we (as in my friends and whatever other random teenagers who happened to be there) used to drink beer on the top of the tower, usually after taking in a showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the old Art Theatre. You had to squeeze through a narrow opening in the door, then climb the circular stairs to the top of the tower & it was one of the creepiest experiences ever…i remember that stairs seemed uneven, and remember a sensation of vertigo…and this was before the beer drinking. I can’t confirm any of the sightings or phenomena attributed to the tower, but I did speak with several other teens who swore that they had “seen things”. I recently took my own teenage daughter to check out the tower and was interested to hear about her impressions. She was, and I quote, “freaked out” by it and now, as a mom I found myself very comforted by the fact that she wouldn’t be able to do any of her own “exploring” inside thanks to the bars and concrete. 🙂

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  4. I used to live in the Kettering just on the other side of the golf course. I used to visit the tower often with friends as a teenager and it was still open at the time, there was concrete over the door but it was parshally busted where u could get in. It was very creepy inside and though I never saw any ghost there was always a feeling of uneasy anxiety. When u went up the winding stairs to the top there was a hole that went all the way down the center so u had to watch where u stepped and was probably part of the reason it is closed. But I know u could still get into it until at least ’96 when I moved away….

  5. Steven, I never got inside, but it definitely looked creepy. I always heard that safety was the main reason it was closed. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for the old photo! I never knew that the tower had a roof! I’ve lived in the Dayton area since 1985, and have been up in the tower a couple of times, the last being in 1997 maybe? I never experienced anything unusual there, other than that “hey, this is really cool!” feeling.