The story of Nazareth Hall begins almost 100 years ago when the Ursuline order of nuns acquired land just outside Grand Rapids, Ohio in 1926 for use as a new school. With the approval of Bishop Samuel Stritch, the construction of a Catholic boys boarding school began the following year. Mother Marguerita Horan supervised all phases of planning and construction, making sure every detail was addressed and work went according to schedule.
In November of 1927, Bishop Stritch ceremoniously laid the cornerstone to the building and, a month later, shortly before Christmas, the old bell from the former Cherry Street Ursuline Convent was placed in the tower. By August of the following year, Bishop Stritch dedicated the new school and gave it the name, Nazareth Hall.
Due to the Ursuline’s reputation for providing children with a quality education, parents from all over Toledo were lining up to enroll their sons at Nazareth Hall. In 1935, Sister Mary Borgia Drulard instituted a severe policy change when she began incorporating a military format into the curriculum, which only further increased the school’s prestige. Over the course of the school’s successful history, the Ursulines provided a top-notch education for nearly 4300 boys.
Unfortunately, the nationwide recession of the 1970s drove operational costs beyond the Ursulines’ ability to recover and they were forced to close the doors to Nazareth Hall forever. The class of ’82 was the last to pass through its doors.
For roughly a decade thereafter, the building sat silent and empty; unused and unwanted. It wasn’t until April of 1991, when the building was purchased by private investors, that Nazareth Hall found new life. It has since garnered a new reputation as one of northwest Ohio’s premier banquet halls; the ideal venue for weddings, parties, and special celebrations. It has also made a name for itself as being one of the most haunted buildings in the Toledo area.
Visitors to Nazareth Hall have made many disturbing claims over the years involving unexplained noises, ghoulish apparitions, and hauntings fueled by sorrow-filled tragedy.
Among the more popular sightings is a ghostly nun who is said to roam the halls, sometimes silently and sometimes accompanied by a ghastly moan. Some say the phantom nun often appears as if she’s angry; an intense air of rage is said to surround her and has made more than one witness wonder if her intentions were less than noble.
Another frequently observed apparition is that of a hooded figure who is often encountered in the bell tower, but who has also been seen wandering the halls and even seen peering out one of the many windows in Nazareth Hall.
Sadly, there’s one more disturbing tale associated with the building; one that I am hesitant to include here due to its completely incendiary and unproven nature. According to rumors, and I truly hope they are rumors, Nazareth Hall is also haunted by the spirit of a student who committed suicide after being molested by a priest. It should be noted that no records of either a suicide or a molestation charge have been found.
Nazareth Hall is located at 21211 W. River Road in Grand Rapids, Ohio.
Nazareth Hall, Forgotten Ohio