Looking for “haunts” or “active” spots as the professionals like to say, has become a national phenomenon. The popular “Ghost Hunters” series on TV has prompted new groups of “spirit seekers” to form in cities across the country. They spend entire evenings in dark places, and the audio and video they capture will send shivers down your spine.
I’ve always enjoyed telling a good ghost story, but up until now, have only been able to go out in the middle of the day. My stories have always been about things that happen to others, and not once had I ever experienced “out of the ordinary” that I couldn’t easily explain.
Recently, I spent most of an evening with members of A.G.H.O.S.T. or the Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle-Tacoma. And a few things happened that night that defy logical thought. A couple of the events were actually caught on my audio recorder.
Seattle Haunts, Part One – Capitol Hill
It was me, and three members of the A.G.H.O.S.T. team: Ross Allison, Jody Cassady, and Christian Schmitt. We climbed into Christian’s SUV, and made the trek up Capitol Hill. We drove by the Harvard Exit Theater, a local landmark known for its “activity.” We couldn’t get into the building that night, so made the decision to visit some other places in the neighborhood.
Our first official stop: 1600 Melrose Avenue. Welcome to the Chapel Bar, a former mortuary.
“We had the opportunity to investigate this place…a few months ago,” says Ross Allison. “We had heard the stories about a female apparition being seen up in the balcony area. People had actually seen ghostly figures in the mirrors.”
After making the trek upstairs to the balcony, we all sat down, and a few minutes into our conversation, a loud noise was heard nearby. It started all of us, but no one could figure out what made the noise.
You can hear the noise and judge for yourself, as we as hear the moment the batteries in my recorder died when we visited the Richard Hugo house on 11th Avenue. The dead batteries wouldn’t have been so creepy if Ross hadn’t just told me the story of when he brought the crew from “Nightline” to this very spot, and the same thing happened to their camera batteries.
Seattle Haunts, Part Two – Graveyard Whisperer
After putting a fresh pair of batteries into my recorder, we moved further up Capitol Hill to 15th Avenue, and walked into a bar known as The Canterbury.
“The one guy means ill, but he doesn’t try to hurt anyone,” says Jen, the manager. She dives right into the things she’s personally witnessed.
“I’ve seen him in that mirror, and felt prickling on the back of my neck,” she continues, referring to a man she believe died in a fight at the bar back in the 1970’s. “I turned around and saw his face superimposed across my face as I was looking into that mirror.”
Ross with A.G.H.O.S.T. confirms the story of the fight, and of the mysterious face in the mirror. Only he adds the twist that several people have reported when they looked into the mirror, the mysterious man is looking down. When he eventually looks up, he has no face.
We tried staring into the mirror, but nothing happened, and no one appeared.
Back in the car, we continue driving north until we reach Volunteer Park. It’s pretty late, and the park is abandoned. Volunteer Park actually was a cemetery first, but the bodies were moved, and the space became a public place. Just to the north of Volunteer Park, we drive down the road that leads us to the GAR Cemetery. GAR stands for “Grand Army of the Republic.” Buried here are Civil War veterans who relocated to our area after the war between the states ended.
Not too long ago, this place was pretty rundown, so the city stepped in. The headstones were all moved to a common area in the center, but to our knowledge, the bodies across the five block space were not moved. Could that be a reason this spot is so active?
“If I was buried in this cemetery and somebody up and moved my tombstone and doesn’t know where I am, I’d be a little upset,” Ross says.
Jody and Christian Schmitt are with us as the quiet dark cemetery comes to life. Both of them claim to have seen things…they believe they’re seeing people, walking around near the hedge.
You can hear this moment as the mysterious voice we caught on tape. We never heard it at the time, but as the team explained to me, often times, digital recorders can pick-up messages that you never hear until you play back the tape. We recorded something…a voice that didn’t belong to any of us present that night. Take a listen and see what you think.
Seattle Haunts, Part Three – Pike Place Market
By day, it's still one of the busiest tourist spots in the city. But at night, the crowds are gone, and there's an eerie silence in parts of the Pike Place Market.
“You have to be very open-minded, and be prepared to be surprised,” says Mercedes Yaeger, who runs the Market Ghost Tour and is my guide through the market this evening.
Yaeger says there's so much history here, the market is ripe for sounds and sights that cannot be explained. Recently, one of the shopkeepers told her about going into the back area of his store, and finding a woman crouched down, looking at something on the bottom shelf. She was covered in a blanket, and when she rose, she turned to him and disappeared. But not before the shopkeeper noticed her sharp blue eyes.
It turns out, this is the most “seen” spirit at the market, and all who see it describe the long blanket, and the piercing blue eyes. Yaeger believes it’s Chief Sealth’s daughter, Princess Angeline.
There are other stories at the market...and in the buildings surrounding the market. We walk up the sharp incline to First Avenue. She takes me to 1921 First. You likely know this building. Kell’s Irish Pub is in the basement.
Anyway, we’re standing up on First, under the massive stone archway to what once was the Butterworth Mortuary. Yaeger explains this is a double-whammy site, so to speak, because before it was a mortuary, it was a Native American burial site.
As we’re standing there, looking into the abandoned space (several businesses have come and gone), she tells me the story of the woman in the green dress that many claim to see climbing the stairs. As she describes the woman, I look into the window of the dark, empty space. My eyes are fixed on a small sign hanging from a string in the window.
Take a listen, you’ll hear our reaction as that sign inexplicably begins to wave back and forth.