Thursday, September 10, 2015

Culp’s Ghost: Haunted Death Row

The old Allegheny County Prison in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania became famous in 1907 when the New York Times published a short article entitled, Murderers Saw A Ghost.

According to this piece prisoners housed in the jail’s “Murderers Row” or Death Row, were complaining that a prisoner that had committed suicide was keeping them awake at night.

Old Allegheny Jail
The Allegheny County Jail, like many of its counterparts of the time, is an impressive structure. Henry Richardson, a Boston architect, designed the prison in the 1880s. It took five years to complete, and cost 2 million dollars.

This fortress is a mixture of Syrian arches, French Gothic dormer windows, French Renaissance roofs, and Byzantine columns. Turrets and arches rise 300 feet above the prison’s massive walls. Today it is a National Historic Landmark.

A centerpiece of this design is a Courthouse tower, that is connected to the jail by a Renaissance footbridge dubbed the “Bridge of Sighs.”

This old-world atmosphere is the perfect setting for a haunting.

According to the Times article W. A. Culp was awaiting trial for the murder of his brother, in a cell on Death Row, in 1907, when guilt overcame him, and he took his own life.

At this time, there were 14 other men being held on Death Row in the Allegheny jail. Shortly after Culp’s death, these men began to complain that they were being kept awake all night.

They stated the cause for this was Culp’s ghost. He was visiting them in the row each night and keeping them awake until daybreak when his spirit would then disappear.

At first, their complaints were ignored but these men were so vehement about this ghostly harassment, that the warden at the time—a man by the name of Lewis was forced to move all 14 prisoners to another part of the jail.

This evidently worked for Culp’s ghost then left these men alone.

The article relaying this information was published in the New York Times newspaper on September 15, 1907, as an exclusive. It can be read here.

Another article published in the Times also focuses upon a haunting. This ghostly activity happened in Sag Harbor in 1895—it can be read here.

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