The Golden Lamb: Ohio’s oldest hotel–historic and haunted

Ohio’s oldest hotel is still going strong

First opened in 1803 as a “house of Public Entertainment,” The Golden Lamb in Lebonon is Ohio’s oldest hotel. Not long after its debut,  the hotel was moved to its current location in 1815. The red brick building was added onto over the years to expand it from its original two stories to four stories, and it eventually became a favorite stop between Cincinnati and the National Road (US 40).

Over the years, this historic inn that also houses a restaurant that has become a destination to drive for, and part of Ohio’s upscale, comfort food landscape, has been host to literary and political giants. And, it’s rumored to be haunted.

The Golden Lamb Restaurant for upscale Americana comfort

The name plates on the hotel’s 18 guest rooms indicate who has either stayed and/or eaten here. The scope is impressive. Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ulysses S. Grant, John Quincy Adams, William Howard Taft are a few from years gone by. The George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan rooms, however, are from more modern times.

Each of the rooms, located on the building’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors, are appointed with antique furnishings and come equipped with air-conditioning and a TV. Each also has a private bathroom.

Please  note, however, that the hotel does not have an elevator so if climbing stairs is a problem, ask for a room on the 2nd floor.

For the ghost action, listen for items falling off of the walls or furniture in Sarah’s Room. Located on the 4th floor, the room is part of the hotel’s museum and is a recreated version of what Sarah Stubbs room might have looked like when she was a girl. Sarah, the niece of Issac Stubbs, the hotel’s manager in the early 1800s, lived at The Golden Lamb with her mother after her father died. Although Sarah lived to be elderly, some say it’s her ghost who haunts the room.

Others say it’s Eliza Clay, daughter of orator and Kentucky statesman Henry Clay. Eliza was a girl when she died from a high fever at the inn in 1825.

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Whether it’s Sarah or Eliza, she has company. The ghost of Charles R. Sherman, an Ohio Supreme  Justice who died at the inn in 1829 is thought to appear in the hallways as a “grey, gaunt man” and create the smell of cigar smoke.

Even if the ghosts are quiet, the hotel is worth a stop. When I visited, my aim was a meal at the Black Horse Tavern, The Golden Lamb’s casual dining option. Connected to the hotel, the tavern’s fare includes food that is served at the inn’s more upscale restaurant but also chef crafted hamburgers, specialty sandwiches and hearty soups.

While waiting for food to arrive, we took browsed the hotel’s display cases and the museum rooms that are a unique look into Ohio’s past.

James Whitcomb Riley room – One option of elegance and antiques

For a seasonal choice, stay in the James Whitcomb Riley room.  James Whitcomb Riley wrote the poem, Little Orphant Annie in 1885 and is my favorite poem to recite for Halloween. Riley made an appearance in Lebonon on October 16, 1883. The room has a queen and a double bed.

Rates from $109 to $119 and can be combined into dinner package. During the weekdays, a complimentary continental breakfast is included in the room rate.

If You Go:

The Golden Lamb Inn and Restaurant
27 S. Broadway
Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Photos courtesy of The Golden Lamb Inn. This is a guest post by Jamie Rhein.