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Tacoma's most haunted

By Kimberly Swetland
On October 29, 2010

When we think of the word ‘haunted' it is generally associated with the word ‘house' or ‘cemetery,' but ghosts can haunt just about anything. Some spirits prefer more traditional haunts while some can be found in the most unassuming places for their own reasons, linked more to territory than buildings. In celebration of Halloween, the Ledger takes a look at some of the most haunted places in Tacoma.


Bair Pharmacy

1617 Lafayette St., Steilacoom WA


Built in 1895, this drugstore which is now a museum run by the Steilacoom Historical Society and a restaurant, is supposedly haunted by the man who owned it in life. W.L. Bair, known as Cub, was a perfectionist. The drugstore also sold hardware and after Cub's death was converted into a café where things weren't so perfect. Things would fly off shelves, appliances would malfunction, and the lights would swing. The conversion back to a hardware museum has seemed to keep the ghost at bay.


Western State Hospital & Cemetary

9601 Steilacoom Boulevard, Lakewood


The Western State Hospital was established in 1870. It is also believed to be the former site of a TB clinic. Patients who died there, until 1952, were buried in graves marked only with a stone engraved with a number. Few of the graves actually have names. There are many unmarked graves as well. Some of the spirits wandering around the graveyard don't even realize they're dead, which might be part of the insanity beyond the grave. Almost all the staff have seen some form of ghost activity. Shadows drift along well-lit hallways and the sound of water running can be heard at times. One former security guard who worked the night shift said that, "The hospital has a really creepy vibe to it. Elevators open and close on their own and there is also the ghost of a receptionist named Mable who now haunts the hallways."


Pantages Theatres

901 Broadway,


Alexander Pantages, a Vaudevillian, opened the Pantages as part of a chain of Vaudeville houses. The theater has been partially reconstructed to look like it originally did when its doors first opened in 1918. At the Pantages Theater, guests who arrive late for a performance have been assisted to their seats by a ghostly presence. They are stopped at the exact row they are to be seated by a gust of overwhelmingly frigid air. There is also a carved face, that's been a part of the theater since its early Vaudeville days, that peers out at the isles of seating from above the stage, believed to be the likeness of Alexander Pantages himself. If you watch the face unflinchingly the expression is said to change depending upon how well the performances went on stage.


Emerald Queen Casino

5700 Pacific Highway East, Fife


This popular hotel and casino was built on the site of an old hospital where so many tuberculosis patients died that they had to install a crematorium in the basement to dispose of all the infected corpses. When the hospital closed the site was turned into administrative offices for the Puyallup Tribe. The original structure that housed the hospital and the administrative offices was five stories, but the hotel that sits in its place is only four. The fifth floor of the original structure was the most active, but now unsettling noises can be found on the fourth floor of the hotel. There have been reports of objects in rooms disappearing, then mysteriously reappearing, electrical devices switching on and off on their own, voices of children and a woman crying out for her husband, but the basement of the hotel is presumed to be the most haunted of all, where the crematorium used to sit.


Thornewood Castle

8601 North Thorne Lane Southwest, Lakewood


Thornewood Castle is the location where Stephen King‘s "Rose Red" was filmed. Chester Thorne was the founder of the National Bank of Tacoma and the port of Tacoma. In 1908, he bought a hundred acres of waterfront on American Lake. Thorne then purchased a four-hundred year old gothic style Tudor which was then dismantled and shipped to the site. The mansion is 24-27,000 sq ft and has 54 rooms. Thorne's daughter Anita and her family also took up residence at Thornewood. There are stories of a child drowning in one of the ponds on the grounds and Chester is said to have died in an upstairs room of the house in 1927. Now a Bed and Breakfast, the Castle has seen a lot of ghostly activity by both the owners and the guests. The owner is said to have overheard the noises of a cocktail party while sitting alone reading in one of the rooms. There have also been sightings of a vortex opening up in the Great Hall with several spirits coming out of it. Guests also catch whiffs of old leather and occasionally see a man dressed in leather and a woman in an empire waist dress lingering on the staircase. A man without legs meeting Chester's description is said to be haunting several rooms in the house.


The County Courthouse (Now the County City Building)

930 Tacoma Ave. So., Tacoma WA


The new County City building was built on the site of where the old courthouse used to be. The County City building is the eternal home to two men who were hung in the original structure for murder. In 1900 a man by the name of Albert Michaud was hung from the gallows in the courthouse for killing his wife. It is believed that by the time of his hanging Michaud's hair, which was black when he was convicted had gone snow white from fear of his death. The other ghost is Eben Boyce who shot his wife at the restaurant where she worked. Boyce was the only other person to be hung in the court house.


Old Tacoma City Hall,

625 Commerce St., Tacoma


In the heart of Tacoma's historic district sits Old City Hall. Built in 1893, it is currently home to offices and condominiums, but, with the state of the economy, the property is due to be auctioned off in January. City of Tacoma officials worked in Old City Hall until they relocated in 1959. The building sat empty for 10 years. Some say the spirits of political crusaders linger here. Security guards report seeing shadows that quickly vanish as they pass by or feeling the presence of someone else. The alarms and lights turn on and off on their own absent any intruders and the elevator has been called to floors without anyone touching the buttons.


University of Puget Sound

1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma

Ann-Marie Burr was only 8 years old when she disappeared in her blue flowered nightgown from her bedroom on August 31, 1961 and was never heard from again. Authorities found a small footprint under the front room window which matches a men shoe size 6 or 7, which many have linked to Ted Bundy, even though he denied Burr's murder and would have only been 14 years old at the time. It is believed that Bundy dumped the girl's body into the foundation of a building under construction at University of Puget Sound, where he later attended college. He later transferred to UW Seattle. Burr's body was never found, but students report hearing strange noises and the ghost of a girl resembling Burr wandering the halls.


The Pagoda on Five Mile Drive

Point Defiance Park

5400 North Ruston Way

Tacoma, WA

The Pagoda at Five Mile Drive was the site of a trolley car station over a century ago where a man reportedly committed suicide on the lower level by shooting himself in the head with a small pocket pistol. The staff who work at the venue report hearing loud footsteps going up and down the stairs. Visitors have also heard patterns of what sounded like drenched clothing hitting the ground on the downstairs floor. The man apparently killed himself in the marbled downstairs bathroom when his wife drowned after her boat took on water on its way back from Vashon Island.


E.R. Rogers

1702 Commercial Street, Steilacoom

E.R. Rogers Restaurant, now the site of an attorney's office for the last two years, is said to be haunted by a female ghost. Some believe it is the ghost of Catherine Rogers, who has finally returned home after death. Captain Edwin R. Rogers and his wife Catherine only lived in their dream home from 1891 until 1893 when E.R. Rogers lost his fortune in the economic downturn. Others believe the ghost might be Hattie Bair, the wife of drugstore owner Cub Bair, who might have killed herself in an upstairs bedroom or one of the many boarders she took in. The Bairs bought the place in 1920 and turned it into an inn. Ghostly activities include lights turning on by themselves after the building is closed up at night, alarms being tripped, full-trained police search dogs refusing to go anywhere near the attic, a woman's stocking clad leg walking up an invisible staircase to the attic, partial figures appearing in mirrors and windows.


Haunted Hot Dogs!

The Roberts-Parker Building

1101-05 Tacoma Av, So.

The Roberts-Parker building has housed several businesses: a confectionary, a tire shop, two different tea companies, a paint shop, a tavern, a shoe store, and two different restaurants. On October 12, 1968, when it was still Siri's Restaurant a man shot three people right out front, killing a 25 year old woman named Gail Golphenee. There are also reports of a man dying of burns from a fire in an apartment below Siri's Restaurant. The fire might have been caused by smoking in bed. In the 90s, the Roberts-Parker building was a popular jazz club and restaurant called Kelly's. Thomas "Red" Kelly closed the jazz club in 2003 and died a year later. Some believe his ghost lingers on in the building, playing jazz for those who will listen. This building sits across the street from the Tacoma Public library and has been converted into a bar/deli, a Hot Rod Dog, and a law firm.


Temple Theater

47 Saint Helens Ave., Tacoma

Built in 1927, The Landmark served as the Grand Lodge for the Free and Accepted Masons of Washington. The building has eight floors, basements, an attic, and this is the rumored location of one of the entrances to the old shanghai tunnels, which are now blocked up. The adjoining Temple Theater is believed to be haunted, almost from the time it opened in 1930. In March 1972, an employee of the theater was crushed and killed in an elevator accident, where his ghost now resides. The elevator travels to random floors where its doors remain open for extended lengths of time. Employees have also reported chills, glowing lights, and apparitions. There have also been sightings of specters in the balcony.


Brown & Haley Candy Co.

110 E 26TH St Tacoma WA

Before it was a confectionary it was the abandoned Stilson-Kellog shoe factory. There is much talk of an unrecorded boiler explosion that took place there in the early 1900s, around 1910. A former night janitor at Brown & Haley said, "The old freight elevator has a mind of its own. It goes up and down when no one is pressing the button and it often stops on the wrong floors. The machines sometimes start up on their own." The same janitor, a very sensible man, continued to belay a personal sighting of one of the ghosts, "I was cleaning out the copper kettles in the kettle room one night with steam, which already added an eery effect to the room, but then through the steam drifted the upper torso of a man in bib overalls, a work shirt, and a cap. He was licking his finger and staring at me, then he drifted through the wall and was gone." One of the night watchmen that used to work for Brown & Haley had a binder crammed full of paranormal phenomenon occurring at the factory. Every time he heard of an incident, he'd keep record of it.


The Pacinda Family Home

4314 S 8th St

Before a new home was built in its place in 1976, the Pacinda family home had a long history of paranormal activity. In the early 70s, the Pacinda's would hear the doorbell ringing in the middle of the night, which isn't really unusual, unless you account for the fact that the wires for the doorbell weren't connected. They reported similar events on almost daily occurrence. The lights in the house would switch on and off by themselves, something would scratch at the doors, and Mrs. Pacinda even said that she saw the silhouette of a man standing on the basement steps. Cups and heavy cast iron cook-wear fly off the counters or vibrate, small items disappear then relocate to odd locations, door knobs rattle, and a strange metal clinging sound emanates from beneath the living room floor. Psychics have told Mrs. Pacinda that a woman was murdered in the basement of the house by her husband, but that wouldn't explain the sighting of the male figure. There was, however, an incident where what felt like the small hand of a woman pushed Mrs. Pacinda across her bed. The Pacinda's were bombarded by these ghostly activities, but couldn't move because all of their savings was sunk into the home.





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