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The Snowden Gray Mansion Enters a New Era

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman The Snowden Gray Mansion Enters a New EraThe Morning Parlor. Photos by Taijuan Moorman.
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The Snowden Gray Mansion has had quite the turnover.

The mansion was built in the 1850s by part-namesake Phillip Snowden and his wife, Abigail, who were good friends with the Kelton’s of the Kelton House, just a few doors over. After just 10 years, however, the Snowdens lost the house and eventually filed for bankruptcy.

From then until now the mansion has been occupied by a governor, a philanthropic railroad tycoon (other part-namesake David Gray), a fraternity and a women’s association. Celinda Hatton, who ran the Columbus Women’s Clubhouse Association in the 1920s, is the mansion’s most notable ghost. Known as “The Pink Lady,” she has been said to walk around in a baby pink robe with a drink in her hand.

The building in 1892, then known as the Residence of David Gray. Via the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Columbus in Historic Photographs collection.

The history of the mansion is full of interesting tidbits: After the women’s clubhouse owned it, the mansion went to the state. It was then in 1951 that fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma was able to purchase the mansion for $1 — the equivalent of just $9 today. It’s current owner, David Strause, purchased the mansion in 2018.

1965 photo of building then known as the Kappa Kappa Gamma House, courtesy of the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Columbus Citizen Journal and Columbus Citizen Newspapers collection.

The flurry of history comes from Ariana Lindenfelser, creative director and event manager at the Snowden Gray Mansion. The mansion itself has also had a surprise historical relic or two under its floorboards, from newspapers and milk cartons from the 1850s, to an original book from the Kappa Kappa Gammas.

“I feel so grateful to be able to work in a building with such a rich history- and pay tribute to that history in how we’re designing the venue,” said Lindenfelser in an email. “We are able to pull elements from different time periods and the characters that lived in the home, and turn it into something magical that guests can experience today.”

Today, Strause, Lindenfelser, and co. are operating the mansion as an events venue, offering guests a place to get married, throw retirement or birthday parties, hold book signings, host poetry or corporate events, and more. On Sunday evenings the venue hosts the Bobby Floyd Trio for live jazz, with other regular events to come.

“It encompasses every single thing you want, which is nice,” says Tracey Schrock, who handles operations and, along with her husband, has transformed the venue for its new use today. “It’s paying homage to that stuff, but how do we bring it to the future? This is a cool place. It just has a rich history.”

At the end of last year, the entire Snowden Gray Mansion was listed on Airbnb for $999 a night. Since then, the rooms have undergone a full transformation. Five units in total will be back up for rent within the next few months.

Many of the rooms in the mansion, including the suites, will be themed around the different people who have lived there: The Snowden and Gray suites, which are the two largest units, are the closest to completion. There will also be a room inspired by the pink lady herself, featuring work by Columbus photographer Kate Sweeney.

“They’re going to be portraits in nudes because Celinda made portraits in nudes. So it’ll be pretty cool to pay homage to it,” says Lindenfelser, who’s collaborating on the project, as well as a complementary book with Sweeney’s work. “Kate’s work pays homage to the work Celinda may have created. So that’s pretty exciting, and should be out within the next few months.”

The next era of the Snowden Gray Mansion will likely have a few great stories of its own. The team has already had its first experience with the paranormal. As seen in a Facebook post, the mansion’s general contractor witnessed a white light dance around the ground in front of him in a space with no windows or doors, and no hidden or buried wires below.

Aside from run-ins with the unexplainable, the team is continuing to make finishing touches and get units and rooms ready for rent. The mansion’s Blue Velvet Room has just been completed, and the Snowden and Gray units are expected to be completed in a few weeks.

Then, guests will have a wide choice of event spaces for any occasion.

“It’s just unique,” says Schrock. “I mean, you’re not going to find anything else like this.”

For more information, visit www.snowdengraymansion.com.

Editor’s note: Since publishing, this article has been updated to correct spellings and dates, including the year the mansion was built, in the 1850s and not the year 1850, and the spellings of Schrock and Strause’s names.

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