Dining with the Dead
It was an early November evening when we arrived at a well known microbrewery in Bryan, Ohio. We had heard the rumors about paranormal activity in the former Methodist church and knew we had to investigate the claims. Does hallowed ground support the presence of spirits? Join us as we investigate Father John’s microbrewery
The Story Behind Father John’s
The Bryan Methodist Episcopal Church at the southwest corner of Beech and Butler streets was designed by architect R.C. Loos of Philadelphia, Pa., and was described as “severely gothic” in design, filled with spectacular stained glass windows and a custom built pipe organ. Its cornerstone was laid July 18, 1895, and the church was formally dedicated on February 23, 1896. It replaced the original 1867 wooden Methodist church which occupied the land previously.
The building was constructed by local contractors Parcher, Crawford and Kensinger at a cost of $14,000. The congregation met in the structure until the new Wesley United Methodist Church on Center Street was completed in 1969 at a cost of nearly $1 million. The First Baptist congregation worshiped in the facility from 1970 to 2005.
According to Father John’s website “…the old stately structure stood empty as both congregations outgrew their spiritual home. She sat empty and her age began to show…the falling slate roof and wet crumbling foundation had sealed her fate. Not wanting to leave the magnificent building to fall into ruin and abandonment, Dr. John Trippy purchased the aged icon and immediately replaced the failing roof and halted the deterioration of the once great building. This however left him with one fundamental question…”What am I going to do with this?” The answer came in the form of a quote from a dear friend of Dr. Trippy’s. The quote read, “First do what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, soon you will be doing the impossible.” The words of St. Francis soon became the mantra of saving the old church. Wanting to serve the masses and the community that helped bring the old church to life in the first place, Dr. Trippy decided to resurrect the old building as a brewery and restaurant. Thus, in (2013), Father John’s Brewery came to life as a spiritual food and drink destination in Northwest Ohio. In 2017, the Stoned Goat Inn was opened in the Parsonage of the old church, offering a respite for weary travelers.”
Ressurecting an old building often involves a bit of demolition and digging. Sometimes, during this process you may dig up something you weren’t expecting. You may literally dig up the past. This was the case during renovations early in 2012. While digging to install a new floor in one of the rooms, workers unearthed a crypt. The remains sealed inside the coffin have not been identified to this day. Given that there were burials on this plot of land when it served as a church, (some of the stones are still near the entrance to Father Johns) its a good bet that this crypt holds the remains of a church member from long ago.
If you’ve ever visited an old historic building, you know it can often give off an ethereal vibe. It’s not surprising, then, that Father John’s should have claims of paranormal activity. Just before you enter the bar downstairs you’ll notice a room to your right. This room, soon to be the “Four Ghost Escape Room” has played host to music and disembodied whispers. In the previously mentioned Stoned Goat Inn, adjoining Father John’s, you may encounter the spirit of a woman and a little girl said to inhabit the area.
We had heard of Father John’s and its claims for quite a while and decided it was time to check things out. In November, the Fringe team loaded up its equipment and drove to Bryan, Ohio. We pulled up to our destination in the early evening. We had no problem finding it as it sits in the heart of downtown. As an aside, Father John’s is a short drive from other active paranormal hot spots in the city. One of our first and most important duties upon arrival was to go inside and have some food. After all, if you’re going to investigate a microbrewery/restaurant you have to partake in its culinary delights. It’s probably no surprise that we opted to dine in the crypt room. Not only did it have an awesome dining table suspended from the rafters , but it also gave us the oportunity to get a better look at the coffin under the floor. The coffin is visible through a thick layer of plexiglass which serves to protect the unsealed crypt. We shared multiple appetizers and enjoyed delicious entrees. Adventurous diners have the option to partake in Father John’s signature bison burger, sourced from Dr.Trippy’s own Wild Winds Bison Preserve farm in Fremont, Indiana.
After dinner, a guide gave us a tour of the building. The restaurant and bar sit in the lower level. The church is on the first floor while the former parsonage is accessible from a short hallway on the same level. There is also a small third level up the stairs just inside the worship area. This third floor is just big enough for storage. Perhaps one of the oddest things to occur during our stay happened while we were getting acquainted with the layout of the building. Standing in front of a door to a room billed as a “future escape room”, we noticed the door moving slightly open and shut several times. We explained this by natural air movement through the building. Then our attention was drawn into the room when we heard a series of thuds or bangs coming from within. Upon entry we noted that the door we entered through was the only means into and out of the room. We made note to give this area attention during our investigation. Throughout the night we explored the building, conducting EVP sessions and utilizing our equipment in an attempt to find evidence of any anomalous activity. In addition to our usual recorders and cameras, we brought out our Kinect/SLS camera.
According to the Ghosthunter Store the Kinect/SLS “…uses an RGB camera with depth sensor and infrared light projector with a monochrome CMOS sensor which sees everything not as a flat image, but as dots arranged in a 3D environment. These 1000’s of infrared dots allow the camera to “see” depth and detail like a sonar. The installed software can recognize people by distinguishing body parts, joints and movements. If it shows a person shaped object on the screen that you cannot see with the naked eye then there is something there the IR is detecting and the programing is recognized as a human shape based on body parts and joints together.” The problem with the Kinect/SLS as it relates to ghost hunting is that it is based on a video game system. It is specifically built to see things as human. For example, it can interpret pipes as a human form and render it as such. For this reason, we understand that anything we pick up with the Kinect/SLS must be taken with a grain of salt. That said, we did have some action on the Kinect throughout the night. Andy, Amy, and Rhonda ran the Kinect. Andy noted:
the SLS picked up a tall anomaly about 7 feet tall and a smaller one about 2 feet tall. After reviewing the evidence they showed in every room we went in. Little guy sitting on the table with legs crossed, big guy sitting in a chair. Both would get up and walk around. First captured in the bar. The Rem pod went off while trying to talk to it. It appeared in the bar, crypt room and in the church.
We continued our investigation until 2 am. At that point we retired to our rooms in the former parsonage. In the morning we packed up and left for home. Evidence review consisted mainly of audio. We did not come up with any anomalous audio or EVPs. All measurements captured by our EDI+ data logger was stored onto an SD card. Upon analysis we did not notice anything out of the ordinary from its readings.
Overall, this is a very interesting location with a storied history. We hope to return in the future to see what more we can unearth. As we continue our research into this location perhaps we will learn something that may open up a door to the unexplained.
- Andy W
- Dave B
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Check out Director Kelly’s blog on Father John’s:
Prepared for Fringe Paranormal by Don Collins
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