Thurber House

Admission to Thurber House is free.

  • Open daily from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: 77 Jefferson Avenue in Columbus, Ohio
  • Phone: 614-464-1032
  • Web: www.thurberhouse.org

thurber-houseThe Thurber House in Columbus is a restored nineteenth-century home where author, humorist, cartoonist, and playwright James Thurber lived during his college days with his parents.

Thurber used this home’s characteristics in many of his stories. The home has since been restored to represent the early teens of the 20th century. And of course, visitors will see Thurber memorabilia, including original drawings, manuscripts and first editions of his books. In addition, his typewriter, briefcase, family photographs and more are on display.

Excerpt from January 2007 edition of OhioTraveler

The Night The Ghost Got In

The Ohio Lunatic Asylum burned down killing seven people on November 17, 1868. Those grounds in downtown Columbus later included a house at 77 Jefferson Avenue. And from 1913-1917, the Thurber family rented it. On the 47th anniversary of the fire, two Thurber brothers were home alone upstairs when they heard footsteps circling the dining table below. When they investigated, standing at the top of the stairs, the sound faded. Until a rushing, pounding of feet leapt the steps two at a time with a dead bead for the two young men. But the young men did not see anybody there. None-the-less, they frantically scurried into nearby rooms slamming doors behind.

Later, James Thurber, one of the two brothers (attending Ohio State University at the time of the incident), penned, “The Night the Ghost Got In.” Thurber went on to become a famous author, humorist and cartoonist. As for the house at 77 Jefferson Avenue, it’s still there. And open for tours as a living museum.

Visitors and residents at Thurber House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, have also reported strange encounters with the unknown. The dining footsteps have reoccurred over the years, as have opening and closing doors, books flying off shelves, and a citing of a mysterious silhouette of a hefty, stooped figure moving about near a window. Another figure was reported in someone’s bedroom sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room, hunched, watching and then disappeared.

In 1984, the house opened as a literary arts center and museum of Thurber remnants. It is furnished in the style of the 1913-1917 period in which James Thurber lived there with his parents and two brothers. The first two floors are open daily for tours. At the direction of the Thurber family, unlike typical museums, visitors are encouraged to sit on chairs, play the piano, and otherwise act as guests to the home. Tours are 1-4pm daily (except holidays). Self-guided tours are free Monday through Saturday. Guided tours are offered on Sunday for a nominal fee of $2.00 – $2.50.

In addition, The Thurber House hosts many writing workshops, special events, a conference center next door, Reading Garden (between the historic house and conference center), a gallery, and museum shop. More information is available at www.thurberhouse.org, including detailed accounts of haunting witnessed over the decades.

James Thurber died from pneumonia on November 2, 1961. He is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.

“I have lived in the East for nearly thirty years now, but many of my books prove that I am never very far from Ohio in my thoughts, and that the clocks that strike in my dreams are often the clocks of Columbus.”
– James Thurber