Brownella Cottage was featured on Biography Channel’s hit series, My Ghost Story in 2011!
For more about the My Ghost Story series, check out their website, http://www.biography.com/tv/my-ghost-story. The Brownella episode featured stories from Galion native Greg Kirk, whose story is written below.
I lived in the Bishop’s home as a caretaker for over three years…
By Greg Kirk
I greatly enjoyed the recent Galion Inquirer article written by Doug Osborne on his “haunting” late night experience as a Galion Historical Society trustee – at Brownella Cottage, home of the late and great Bishop William Montgomery Brown.
I was particularly interested in Doug’s experience because I am the only person, other than the Bishop, his wife Ella and their servants to have lived in Brownella. I lived in the Bishop’s home as a caretaker for over three years in the early 1980s as I commuted to Ohio State University.
When I was approached by attorney Kenneth Petri, local trustee of the Brown estate, about living in Brownella I was thrilled. I loved Victorian architecture and local history, liked the idea of having solitude for study, and thought Brownella would make fantastic bachelor digs! I embraced the chance to ‘live’ by myself.
Shortly after moving in, I encountered a group of retired Roman Catholic nuns in habit who hailed from Pennsylvania on the main stairwell of Brownella one Saturday morning as they were led on a house tour. Imagine my surprise after learning that one of the sisters nudged the tour guide aside after introductions and noted that I “didn’t live alone” in the house.
Doug’s story struck a resonant chord within me: open doors that I had closed, lights on that I had turned off, pictures that fell off the wall, the echo of running steps in the house and down the walkway were phenomenon that I eventually came to accept as usual and normal.
I was only afraid once.
After returning from an OSU Halloween party where the attendees bobbed for Budweiser instead of apples, I made the mistake or viewing the movie “Halloween” on HBO at 1 a.m. I will confess that after the movie concluded I did look in all of the closets and under the bed before bolting my bedroom door (and opening another Budweiser), it was the only time I remember experiencing fear at Brownella Cottage.
The record of history duly notes that after Bishop Brown was evicted from the Episcopal Church for heresy he was soon consecrated a bishop in the Old Catholic Church. People who knew him in life continue to testify to his compassion and love for people, especially the poor and marginalized. Isn’t it ironic that the Bishop consistently lived out the ideal of the same Christian faith that people assume he abandoned.
The Bishop was an outgoing extrovert who thrived on attention and loved to play practical jokes. If something of him remains on at Brownella I am convinced that it is not a haunting spirit or spook.
During my residency at Brownella I began to read the Judeo-Christian scriptures with interest. I also became interested in other world religions that teach compassion, love and forgiveness. There is an aura of holiness and goodness at Brownella Cottage. I will always believe that living there contributed to my journey toward ordination as a Roman Catholic Permanent Deacon.
If there is a spirit on the prowl at BrowneIla, I believe it is a good spirit, the spirit of a good man, an outgoing and playful man, a man who gave much of his time and resources to our community. I believe that all of us were created for eternal life and relationship with a loving and understanding God, and yet I believe that something of us remains behind here in the hearts of people whom we loved and touched.
Maybe the Bishop doesn’t roam through this big house at 132 South Union Street. Maybe there are logical reasons for the phenomenon that Doug and I experienced. But the Bishop does continue to live on in the hearts of those remaining among us who knew him, and in the hearts of we who are grateful for his compassion and his zest for life.
From The Galion Inquirer, (November 5, 2002)