The quaint bed and breakfast in East Liverpool, Ohio now known as the Sturgis House was once led a former life as a funeral home, the remains of which can still be found on display in the laundry room, including the sullen death mask of outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd.
Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd made his name in the 1920s and 30s as a notorious bank robber and murderer. A lifetime criminal, he became known for his liberal application of a machine gun during his capers which led to the deaths of a number of law enforcement officers. Most notably he is said to have been one of the key players in the Kansas City Massacre, a failed jail break that left four officers and the target of the breakout, dead. Despite his heinous crimes, Floyd was seen by many in the public as a kind of folk hero thanks to his practice of destroying mortgage documents during his bank raids, freeing many from their debt.
Floyd’s criminal career and life came to an end near East Liverpool, Ohio in October of 1934. After being declared Public Enemy Number One following the death of John Dillinger, Floyd went on the run, but was finally cornered in Ohio. He was taken down in a hail of gunfire as he attempted to flee officers on foot.
His body was taken to the nearest mortician, at the Sturgis Funeral Home in East Liverpool, where his corpse was embalmed and a death mask was made. Floyd’s body was then sent back to Oklahoma where he was buried. His death mask stayed at Sturgis Funeral Home.
Cut to 1998 and The Sturgis House, itself a historic Victorian mansion, has been turned into a relaxing bed and breakfast, which it still operates as to this day. The home’s funereal legacy lives on in the basement laundry room where they still keep some of the old equipment on display, and Floyd’s grim, white death mask still hangs just above the washer drier. There are tools used for the preparations, newspaper articles and many other artifacts from that fateful day on display as well. It might be a bit morbid, but the inn keepers are always happy to let you in and to show off the mask!
Know Before You Go
Downtown East Liverpool, Ohio. Exit US 30/Hwy 39 at Jackson St. Drive a few blocks north, then make a right on 5th St. The Sturgis House will be on the right, with the big green clock out front.
Unfortunately, the museum is now closed, and all artifacts have been donated to the East Liverpool Police Museum. Call the East Liverpool Police Department to make an appointment.