“Kappas are a caring, supportive sisterhood, watching over their members and ready with a helping hand. How appropriate, then, that Kappa Kappa Gamma should have a spectral ‘caretaker’ watching over visitors at their Headquarters.”
- Robin Smith, Columbus Ghosts
The building that currently houses Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Headquarters was originally built in 1852 by Phillip Snowden, a silk merchant, and his wife Abigail. The home has gone through several different owners over its time, including Governor David Tod during the Civil War era and banker David Gray and his family. From there the Columbus Women’s Club used the home as a clubhouse, adding an auditorium to the back of the building. Financial issues from the Great Depression caused them to sell the house, leaving it to fall into the hands of several more owners over the next decade. Eventually, it was bought by Clara O. Pierce, Ohio State, in 1951 to be used as our Headquarters.
Over the past 62 years, Kappa volunteers, interns and staff members have reported seeing and hearing strange things happening around Headquarters. There are tales of a woman roaming the building, a man in black wandering the halls, and a formally dressed couple on the stairwell.
Diane Selby, Ohio State, was a student worker at Headquarters during the late 1950s. During her time here, Diane experienced a number of mysterious encounters. One day, she heard the vacuum running in the closet. Thinking that the cleaner, Adele, had forgotten to turn it off, Diane turned it off and went about her business. When she saw Adele later that day, she talked to her about leaving the vacuum running. Adele said that it was impossible, as there are no outlets in or near the closet. The two went to investigate only to find the vacuum cleaner running again, unplugged, in the closet.
Diane had another inexplicable experience with a coworker. Their desks were next to a window overlooking a courtyard, when Diane heard a musical quartet. Glancing out of the window, she found the courtyard to be empty, oddly. Knowing the music was too loud to be coming from the neighbors, she asked her office mate if she heard the music as well. Her coworker acknowledged hearing the music. “But,” Diane said, “There is nobody out there.” Her coworker, keeping her eyes on her work, simply acknowledged the instance, saying “Yes, I know.”
The most famous ghost though is that of Miss Celinda Hatton, infamously known as the Pink Lady. Miss Hatton was the caretaker of the upper rooms during the early 1900s when the Columbus Women’s Association rented the top floor to boarders. She was a talented portrait artist whose picture still hangs in our Headquarters’ dining room. She was known to run a respectable establishment and took excellent care of her guests. She would often walk the halls in a pink robe to make sure everything was alright. Many believe that she still roams the halls, checking in on Kappa’s guests.
President Julie Leshay, Colorado College, has spent many nights at Headquarters for meetings and has encountered the Pink Lady. During one of her stays, Julie was woken by someone frantically running up and down the steps. Thinking it was someone who had come into work, she went back to sleep. It wasn’t until the next morning that Julie realized the noise she heard had happened too early to be an employee coming to check on them. No one else staying there heard the sounds nor had they gotten up in the middle of the night. “I personally haven’t seen her, thank goodness,” says Julie. “I like to think of the Pink Lady as our sisterly guardian so that's why I wasn't scared when I heard the footsteps.”
Museums Curator and Archivist Kylie Smith Towers, Simpson, recalls one of the more popular Pink Lady ghost tales. “During one very late council meeting, the Kappas took a brief break, all putting on their pajamas and robes before returning to continue the meeting,” says Kylie. “When they returned, the secretary called roll to be sure everyone was back.” They all were there, but then, who was the woman in the pink robe they saw walk past the doorway in the main hall? Hurrying into the hall, they found it empty; no woman in a pink robe was to be found in the house.
Have you had any paranormal encounters while staying at or visiting Fraternity Headquarters? Share in the comments below!