Back in the 1830s, the bustling hub of downtown Indianapolis harbored a dark secret. The story of haunted houses in Indiana begins with the tale of the cavernous, once beautiful very first Governor’s Mansion that sat atop Monument Circle. Many credit the doomed structure with the title of the first haunted house in Indianapolis.
So the story goes that the mansion was labored over with a great deal of effort to make it suitable for the governor of the Hoosier state. But ironically, no governor ever lived there. The governors’ wives never wanted to hang their clothes out to dry in the middle of the city for all to see. They felt the celebrated Circle left them no room for privacy from the curious stares of the public.
So the beautiful mansion became the home of supreme court offices, then slowly lost its promising glow and began to house transient drifters and ladies of the night. Finally, its condition deteriorated and it sat empty and desolate for 30 long years. Whispers began rising from Indianapolis citizens about what a disgrace the house was to the dignity of Monument Circle.
Those whispers soon became a buzz as the town became convinced that a dark, menacing figure had taken up residence in the abandoned and crumbling mansion. It was a ghost, they assumed, and some swore they saw its long black cape billowing behind a bulky black shape with no head. They could hear thumping and unearthly sounds from inside the mansion, but no one dared to go inside and experience the horrors they knew awaited them. In fact, citizens stopped visiting the Circle at all after dark for fear of the unknown.
One moonless, windy November evening, a group of local boys decided they would be the ones to break the spell of the mad ghost that flitted past the grimy windows and slipped through the decaying walls of the old Governor’s Mansion. Their goal was to capture the spirit, and filled with the confidence of the young, they stood on the steps of the Circle that fateful night and dared each other to take the first step inside.
Finally one of the boys, named Aaron Ohr, boldly declared that he wasn’t afraid of ghosts. Though he wished he could call the words back as soon as they left his lips, the others taunted him and he knew he had sealed his fate. He checked his pocket and felt reassured when he found his trusty sling shot and a solid handful of rocks.
Aaron stepped into the house, and his friends watched in awed silence. In seconds they began to hear wild screams and a terrible thumping noise, and were terrified. The boys turned to run, leaving their friend to his ugly fate, when Aaron emerged from the swinging doors of the Governor’s Mansion.
The boys, stunned, turned to see their friend alive and well and clutching a giant, wild turkey in his hands. The turkey was spitting mad and could barely be contained, but Aaron managed. Proudly he held up his wriggling prize for his friends to see.
And with that, young Aaron became a hero of the city and the story of the first haunted house in Indianapolis was officially on record. Before the evil spirit was revealed to be one very displeased turkey, the entire town was convinced the mansion held untold horrors and secrets of the dead. It was recorded in the town newspaper that it was the oldest turkey ever caught in the Circle City. So the story goes that Aaron’s family cooked that turkey for Thanksgiving, and the whole town was invited to celebrate the unhaunting of the old Governor’s Mansion.