An Unhaunted History of Collins Hollow, Ohio
Are you looking for the tour? You found it! Welcome in, welcome in! We'll get under way in a couple of minutes, we're just going to wait for any stragglers. Thanks for stopping by! Yep, go ahead and huddle up. I don't think it's getting warmer any time soon. Not this year, at least.
Say, did you guys just move in? Over on Stamford Court? I thought so! Gosh, we were so excited to see someone finally move into Debbie's old place. That house is just darling, and we love what you've done with the front walk. All those little pumpkins and the skeleton in the tree, it's all very... in the spirit of the season. We'll just give it another minute. We're not as popular as that haunted trail up there, but we hold our own! It's not my favorite thing, but it's all for charity, and we've gotta let the kids have their fun while they can, you know? My husband, Bob— he's the golf coach at the middle school— says it's all the kids have been talking about since September.
1. Gardener's Rest
Well, it looks like that's about all we're gonna get, so let's get going, huh? We're a little group, but that's okay. Easier to make friends that way!
Hi, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Collins Hollow History Tour. My name is Lisa, and I'll be your guide today! I'm the treasurer of the Collins Hollow Historical Society, and we know this place pretty well.
The first thing I want to let you know— this is not a haunted tour. I know we're standing in the middle of a cemetery, but all the haunted stuff is up there at the trail. If that's a dealbreaker for you, then you should be able to catch the last group going in if you really scoot.
Great. So the reason we're starting here is because this little patch of land was the first parcel of land that Rutherford Collins purchased to create what would become Collins Hollow. It was dirt cheap, because the farmers around here thought that the soil was too rocky and sandy to be any good for crops. Hard to believe, looking at this lush lawn, right? And other builders looking to take advantage of the proximity to Swift Springs wrote this area off— too many hills, no good route to the resort. But it was a bargain for a self-made man out to establish his own model community!
If you look over here, you can actually see the Collins family mausoleum. My stepdaughter calls it
a goth picnic table, but each of these empty chairs actually represents—
Oh gosh. They must have some really good masks on the haunted trail this year, huh? As I was saying, these empty chairs are a common symbol of the Victorian era—
My goodness. Some of these kids have quite a set of lungs on them. And a bit of a potty mouth too... although those are probably the Whitebridge kids. Kidding! Whitebridge has some great kids, it helps balance out the rowdy ones. Now, for Victorians, the empty chair symbolized—
You know what, it seems like those ghouls and gals up there on the trail are having a bit too much fun, so we'll just move along. We'll circle back here on the way back. The trail should be all wrapped up by them. And it'll be really easy to pick up your kiddos from the trail that way!
Oh. I see. Well, onward and upward!
2. The Wish Lake Sweet Shoppe
Now, if you haven't had a chance to grab something from the Sweet Shoppe, then you are missing out! They've closed for the night, as you can see, but they’ll be back at it tomorrow! The peanut butter—pumpkin pie sundae is absolutely amazing, I wait for it all year long. Even if you haven't gotten a chance to drop in, I bet you've wondered, “gosh, what a funny looking building!” My husband says the same thing every time we pass it, and he's been here almost thirty years.
The Sweet Shoppe is not only the oldest business in Collinwood Hollow, it's the oldest building. It was actually an ice house attached to a farmhouse here. Do either of you know what an ice house is?
Well, back before we had refrigerators and freezers in every home— I know, the dark ages— people would chip great big blocks of ice off the Black Bear River and cart them home to store in insulated outbuildings like this! That was one way to store your food, or make sure you could have a nice cold drink in the summer.
What was that? Whose house? Rutherford Collins moved his brother—in—law, Isaac Montgomery here after he lost his job in Columbus. Montgomery had the bright idea to use the ice from Wish Lake to make ice cream. He didn't have much of a head for law, but he sure took to the ice cream business! He sold Wish Lake Delights all year round, even securing a spot as the exclusive dessert supplier of Swift Springs Resort. Even today, Wish Lake supplies all the ice cream at Swift's Fairy Court. I'm not sure if it's still made with lake ice, though. It's been a while since we've had a good freeze. Maybe this winter!
I already said— Isaac Montgomery.
Oh. Before that.
Well, property records from the time aren't very clear, sometimes even contradictory! And you know, there was that awful fire in the Whitebridge Courthouse, back in 1958. It destroyed a lot of records. A real shame. The first clear record we have is for the transfer of the farmhouse and the 22 acres surrounding it from Rutherford Collins to Isaac Montgomery in the spring of 1904, after his first successful year of ice cream sales.
The Wish Lake Sweet Shoppe is still owned and operated by the Collins family to this day, and since 1912, they've hosted the annual Fourth of July ice cream social, right there in the old ice house. We'll see you there, won't we?
3. Lace Curtain Row
Everybody still with me? I know it can be a bit of a hike from the Sweet Shoppe to here.
Here, we've got the first seven houses built for Collins Hollow. Rutherford Collins designed them all himself. And they're pretty impressive for a guy with no formal training! He wanted to create a place for wholesome, affordable middle—class living. That's why they're these cute little cottages, with the lemonade porch and the itty bitty yard. But unfortunately, he did a little bit too well with his design— after only a few years, the Lace Curtain Row— that's the unofficial name, I prefer Primrose Place, like he named it— that style of cottage became fashionable and expensive. They've stayed pretty expensive. I heard that one over on the corner, closest to the road? It went for just over a million a few years ago.
Rutherford's house is the one in the middle. You can tell it apart from the rest because of those gorgeous roses in the front yard. Those are the very same roses his poor wife planted. He kept working on and perfecting the house until his death in 1937. His will actually says it must be occupied by a direct descendant or remain empty. I'm not sure if that would hold up in court, but the family is sticking to it! No one's lived there since Rutherford's great grandson moved out in the 1980s. A real shame. The family still opens it up to the public from time to time, for the Christmas Home Tour. I went the last time they did that in 1997. I can't even put into words how beautiful that place is. I still dream about it sometimes...
Hmm? Sorry, I didn't catch that.
No, I know what you're talking about. Yes, that's where that awful business with the Potts girl happened. Some of it. But we're not going to get into all that. This tour is about history, not all of that awful stuff.
We'd better get going. I'm running late, and I don't want you poor folks caught in the rain.
4. Collins Hollow Library
Gosh, I don't like to brag, but I think this might be the prettiest library in the whole state. None of those boxy old Carnegies or those shiny spaceship looking things they're building up in the city! You can keep all of those. I love this little treasure. It's where we hold our meetings for the Historical Society. And I think my stepdaughter's overdue fines are single handedly keeping them afloat. No need for another levy— just keep kicking those comic books under your bed, Christine!
They began construction in the library in the fall of 1921, in memory of Rutherford's wife, Pearl. She passed away in 1919— unfortunately, she was never a very well lady, and that flu was too much for her. Poor Rutherford fell into a deep depression after he lost her, and he did almost no work on the development and expansion of Collins Hollow in that time. The library was actually his first project after her death, and he opened it to the public on June 22nd, 1922, on what would have been her birthday. You can see little touches he put to remember her all throughout the library— her portrait appears in a mural in the children’s department, and he commissioned that stained glass window based on her pink roses. And this statue, right here? It's based on childhood photos of Pearl. She’s sitting on a pile of all her favorite books.
It really warms your heart, doesn't it? Bob promised he'll get me a special lawn gnome if I go before he does, that's all he'll commit to.
The bench? No, that's not part of the original building. It's... I think it was part of a renovation fundraiser in the 70s? I'll have to check. Maybe they took the nameplate off for cleaning?
I wouldn't know anything about that. You'll have to ask Parks and Rec about that. They've got a service desk in the municipal building, you could catch them there on Monday sometime.
5. Sycamore Promenade
Did you know that Collins Hollow won an award for City Beautification in 2002? It's all down to this park. This walkway was actually a project of the Lakeview High School class of 1992. Several members of that class met in their third grade class and became very close friends. As their senior project, they decided to plant these trees and these cute little painted rocks to celebrate their wonderful childhood in Collins Hollow. In fact, it's now a springtime tradition for seniors to come down and visit with the third graders to paint new rocks for the display. Much better than senior skip day, don't you agree?
I'm really not sure what Ruth Potts has to do with any of this. I don't know what class she would have been in. You're not one of those true crime podcasters, are you? They're always so morbid, I don't know how people can stand to listen to them.
6. Courthouse Square
So, show of hands, when do you think our beautiful courthouse was built?
Maybe the 1900s?
The Collins Hollow Courthouse was actually built in 1926, during Rutherford's unsuccessful campaign for Collins Hollow to take Whitebridge's place as the county seat. I know! It was inspired by a postcard of some of the Italianate architecture in Rutherford's hometown of Athens, Ohio (although he always maintained that his real hometown was Collins Hollow.) The courthouse was actually the first joint project of Rutherford Collins and his son, Frederick, who studied as an architect at his dad's encouragement. In fact, you can actually see three generations of the Collins family at work in the square! There's the courthouse, obviously, and that gazebo is an addition Frederick made for the town's 15th Fourth of July celebration. It's where we hold the concert and MC the fireworks.
Then over next to the gazebo, we have great grandson Scott's addition— the Wall of Distinction! To this day, we engrave the names of prominent citizens of Collins Hollow. And we have quite a lot, as you can see!
Rutherford Collins and Isaac Montgomery, obviously... then we have Douglas Webster, Charles Porter, Edward Christensen, Hugo Clarkson, Louis Swift—
Michael Richard Marcus? That must be a new addition... but we haven't had any committee meetings about that—
What do you mean, it's written in red?
Oh beans. Not this again!
No, no, I have to call— I have to call Parks and Rec, or the police, or— somebody! This can't keep happening. Let me— I need to take pictures...
He doesn't belong there! He wasn't even from here!
He was just that children's librarian, the one that got caught up in that business with the Potts girl! He was one of the last people to see her, and the police were talking to him, they kept talking to him, we all thought he had to be the one!
Well, they didn't ever arrest him, but we all knew! He was so odd, and interested in dark things, and anyway, what kind of man wants to work with children all the time anyway? He was weird! They let him go, but he still quit his job, he still ran out of town like he had something to hide!
And a normal person... a normal person doesn't do what he did. He came back for the Fourth, knowing full well none of us wanted him back, and he waited until the middle of the fireworks and blew his brains out with his stepdaddy's handgun, knowing full well we'd all have to see it when the show stopped! He knew! He wanted us to see!
It wasn't right. It wasn't right, seeing all that blood on the sidewalk. Not on the Fourth of July.
Folks, I'm terribly sorry, but I... I'm gonna have to cut the tour short. I need to make some phone calls, and it looks like that rain is just about here. It's always rainy in October.
You should come back in the summer, for the Fourth of July. It's much nicer.
there is nothing more suspicious to me than a town that doesn't have any ghost stories. i worked in one once. the vibes were atrocious. wouldn't recommend.