Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Local Ghosts

Here it is! Another installment of Random Things I Find Interesting.

It turns out that Seattle is a heavily haunted place (if you like that kind of thing) and one of the most colorful areas is Georgetown. It sits southward of the city and possesses the Museum of Flight (which is pretty cool) and a bunch of Boeing employees shuttling in and out.

But, back in the day, stuff definitely happened in Georgetown. It's where a lot of the first settlers ended up, before people began making their way northward. Around the turn of the century the neighborhood started to go downhill. It became the red-light district, with ample brothels and bars. When prohibition hit, people started going down to Georgetown for a good time. It was far enough away from the main city that the laws weren't as heavily enforced. The area was known as the "cesspool of Seattle".

One of the most famous sites for the spook-loving set is the Georgetown castle.

The castle was built in the late 1800s. Sarah is its most famous ghost and, according to residents, she can still be seen today. Sarah was sister-in-law to the first owner of the house and became pregnant with his child. When the child was born, the owner (such a nice guy) murdered it and buried it beneath the porch. That porch is still famous amongst locals. It's supposed to be one of the spookiest parts of the house. What happened to Sarah? Well, she went crazy and was locked up in the tower room until she died and went on to haunt the place. Cheerful little story.

But, there are other ghosts, too. Peter Gessner, the first owner, ended up committing suicide in the house. He drank acid to kill himself. His ghost still wanders the halls. Sometimes children's voices can also be heard coming from the top floor. The upper floors of the house once contained a brothel, so the voices could belong to the children of the prostitutes. A later occupant ended up jumping off the Aurora Bridge. Why? Because he was haunted by Sarah's voice echoing through his house. Eventually the landlord made potential tenants sign a release stating that they knew what they were getting into.

Today the house is well-cared for by the current owners and has been brought back from a state of neglect.

That's only one haunted location out of many in Georgetown. There's also the Georgetown morgue, which can lay claim to one suicide, one accidental death, one body snatching, and nine employees who were forced into the crematorium and burnt alive. The morgue has a colorful and detailed history, which, according to local historians, is probably fictional. One of the local radio stations holds their haunted house in the building every Halloween. Ooooh, could they have made up all the terrifying tales? Nah, they wouldn't do that. The haunted house is reportedly a gruesome affair and I, for one, will not be attending. Much as I like researching some of these things, I'm a total weeny when it comes to having bloodstained actors leap out at me from dark corners.

Another building in Georgetown, whose history is better verified, is the poor farm, which was attached to the local hospital. It began operations in 1877 and continued on until 1931, when it became a hospital. Then, in 1956, it was sold and demolished.

The poor farm was sadly inadequate, with tuberculosis patients sleeping in tents on the grounds. Inside the building, cots were lined up in the hallways. Some say the bodies of those who died were moved to an alternate graveyard. Others say they were dumped in the Duwamish River. So, yeah. More ghosts. Ghosts that are probably annoyed.

Honestly, I'm not one who believes in ghosts, but I do find ghost stories fascinating, especially when they're wound into the history of my city. For being a relatively new city, Seattle has a gritty and interesting past, resulting in tons of ghost stories. I've got many more I could (and might eventually) share, but a few Georgetown ghosts should do it for today.

'Tis the season!

What about you? Any local ghost stories you'd like to share?

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  1. thanks for helping us get our spooky on, Sarah! Makes me want to go eat a bag of fun size candy bars.....

  2. Love, love, love these ghost stories! I lived in a house in the East Village that I swore had the ghosts of a bunch of old guys who smoked cigars and played cards. Then, I spoke to some person who knew the history of the block, and he said that, indeed, there used to be a men's social club down in our basement, back in the twenties.

  3. I've always had a soft spot for the paranormal. Ghosts, for that matter. Love your post! Now I have something to tell the kids this Hallow's Eve. :)

  4. I love ghost stories and, allegedly, haunted places. But, I've never "seen" a ghost. I just love the legends that go behind the houses and stories.

  5. I think they're fascinating, and my hubby is even MORE fascinated. He watches all those ghost shows on TV/Netflix. :) Thanks for the cool post and photos!

  6. Interesting history!

    I heard that there's some place around here with supposed paranormal activity . . . but I don't know where exactly it is. :P

  7. I love ghost stories! And to know that these are local makes them even cooler.

    Shortly after I moved to Seattle, I did one of those Underground city tours. I didn't see any ghosts but something definitely felt off to me.

    Great post, Sarah.

  8. Jennifer - I've read that there's a ghostly Native American brave who resides in the Seattle Underground. Plenty of the tour operators claim to have seen him hiding around... I think it was the old bank vault?

  9. Catherine - That's such a cool story. I love ghosts, but ghosts from the roaring twenties are plain amazing.

  10. That castle does look spooky. I'm not sure about ghost stories where I live now but there was a ghost where I went to college.

  11. I love ghost stories, and the history. So fascinating. I live in a super small town, but we have a couple of ghost stories. It's always really interesting to hear local ghost stories.