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Crypt reenactment haunts mausoleum

Famous Columbus residents interred at the Green Lawn Abbey mausoleum made a special appearance this Halloween season. Some of the residents were portrayed by volunteers for the Abbey’s annual event, “Tales from the Crypt.”

The residents chosen for this year’s event had special ties to Columbus and history, said Kate Matheny, president of the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Society. The Abbey, on 700 Greenlawn Ave. in German Village, was built in 1927 and is a member of the National Register of Historic Places. The event was hosted by the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Society.

Two tours through the Abbey were offered on Oct. 24. Tours lasted about an hour, and refreshments were served as guests made their way through the mausoleum. Ticket prices were $25, and proceeds went toward renovating the building and grounds.

Howard Thurston, a world famous magician, was a part of the event this year, and one of the Abbey’s most famous residents. Thurston was a magician from Columbus who was buried in the mausoleum in 1936. The brother of J.C Penny, H.R Penny, also made an appearance.

Lewis Sells, one of the Sells Brothers, who ran a circus that was eventually bought by the Ringling Brothers, was also featured in “Tales from the Crypt.” The Sells Brothers are also known in Columbus for their house on Goodale Park, which was built by Peter Sells and resembles a circus tent.

A dentist entombed at the Abbey was special treat this year. The Preservation Society had a local dentist share practices of the time, in character.

Matheny said the dentist had grim stories about what it was like to be a dentist and a patient in the early years.

Former mayors, doctors, artists, and even the first family to settle Franklin County, the Dierdorfs, are laid to rest at the Abbey. Edward and Rollin Swisher are also interred at the Abbey. They started the company that manufactures Swisher Sweets Cigars.

“It’s a whole gamut of personal stories of individuals who lived and died here and the great stories they have to tell,” Matheny said.

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