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Tacoma's most haunted

Staff Reporter

Published: Friday, October 29, 2010

Updated: Friday, October 29, 2010 04:10

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.

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Thu Feb 13 2014 18:32
Anonymous # 1. You are quite right about that. She was a he. I know because Gail Eugene Golphenee was my father. Wonder why staff reporters don't have to fact check their stories?
Fri Nov 22 2013 02:06
So in the haunted hot dogs story it says that a 25 year old woman named Gail Golphenee was killed...I'm pretty sure that "she" was a he lol. On October 12, 1968 my grandfater, Gail Eugene Golphenee, was shot and killed right outside of a restaurant in Tacoma, WA. He was 25. If I am wrong about this, then it is quite a coincidence haha.
Chuck M
Wed Oct 9 2013 01:37
In the early 80's we lived in a house in North Tacoma that turned out to be haunted. Very haunted. Won't give out the address since it's still a private home, but it's very close to the old Weyerhaeuser mansion on N. 42nd; in fact, it was divided up into servants' quarters for the Weyerhaeusers soon after it was built in 1903. When it was no longer needed in that capacity, it became a boarding house, putting up all manner of lodgers from the forties through (I think) the early sixties. We lived in it for several years without anything unusual happening, then one night right after my wife and I had gone to bed (not long enough for either one of us to fall asleep and dream it), we simultaneously felt an almost electric jolt and sat bolt upright to see the pitch-black outline of a man at the foot of our bed, only a few feet away--and yet, we both had the sensation that the apparition was also extremely far away, as if at the end of a long corridor. The whole episode lasted only a second or two before whatever it was vanished, but, as you can imagine, it had a hell of an impact. Then, the very next night at about the same time, we heard the heavy footfalls of someone climbing the stairway just outside our bedroom door. The footfalls were unmistakably loud and real, so much so I jumped up and began frantically scouring the room for something I could use as a weapon against the intruder. I flung open the door and peered down the stairs--and saw nothing. That was the last we heard from our "visitor", and we lived in comparative peace until we sold the place in '85. However, paying a visit to our old next door neighbors a few years later, we were told the people who moved in after us didn't last long--they apparently experienced so many frightening events in the few months they lived there they couldn't wait to get rid of the place!
Tue Oct 30 2012 18:47
I used to clean the pantages theater when I was 19 years old. One night, I was scrubbing the floors around the seats and I heard people whispering. I thought my coworkers had come to relieve me, seeing as how it was about 3 in the morning. I looked around and there was no one. I have never been so scared in my life....There was no doubt in my mind that someone was there. I quit the next day. Not worth the pay! lol

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