Back to Features

Everyone has a ghost story

A look at Olympia's spookiest places

THE BIGELOW HOUSE: The ghost of Olympia pioneer Daniel Bigelow is rumored to reside here. Photo credit: Brett Cihon

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

I assume everybody has heard of the children's book, Everyone Poops. You know, the picture book that alerts children to the fact that every animal, human or otherwise, does indeed defecate.

It turns out there should be a second book in the Everyone Poops series. This book, called Everyone in Olympia has a Ghost Story, would also take a run at the bestseller list. Because just like Everyone Poops, this book deals with totality.

Nearly everyone living in Olympia believes one place or other in town is haunted.

The only problem with Everyone in Olympia has a Ghost Story is there usually aren't little nuggets of fact to back up the premise. Ghosts and hauntings aren't as easy to pin down as poops. 

Still, believable tales were enough for me as I asked friends, policeman, officials and historians from all over the city the question: What are the spookiest, eeriest, most haunted places in Olympia?

One of the most popular sentiments I encountered in my quest to burrow to the center of scary was that the Capitol House Apartments on Sherman Street are more than old and creaky. According to many, the apartment building, which years ago served as a hospital, is home to many ghosts. Longtime Olympia resident Janelle Andreasen says years ago she saw a ghost on the building's bottom floor. She was waiting for a friend to come down when she noticed someone sitting in a rocking chair. As she approached the chair, her friend came out of a door and called Andreasen's name.

"I looked at my friend real quick and then turned back to the rocking chair," explains Andreasen. "But the rocking chair and the person were gone."

When asked if she truly believed she saw a ghost, Andreasen says without a doubt.

"It's an old hospital, people died in there all the time. I'm sure it's haunted."

Many also point to the fourth Floor at Avanti High School on Legion Way as a known haunted location. As the story goes, in the late 1950s a man painting a railing near a fourth-floor window slipped and fell to his death. His ghost has shut windows, closed doors and made it very uncomfortable for teenage make-out rendezvous on the fourth floor ever since.

Of course it's easy to believe some of Olympia's oldest buildings are haunted. The Old Tumwater Brewery, the Old Main building at St. Martin's University and the Governor's Mansion all hold their own when it comes to Internet ghost rumors. So too does the Bigelow House on Glass Avenue.  The historic house is rumored to be the home of the ghost of famed Olympia Pioneer Daniel Bigelow - a fact the great grandson of Bigelow, George Bigelow, quickly refutes.

"I've been around the house a long time and I've never seen much of a ghost," says grandson Bigelow. "The only thing I can recall is my grandmother mentioning a ghost when doors would shut naturally in the wind."

Historian Ed Echtle understands why people think the Bigelow House is haunted. The structure is old and features a spooky Gothic design. The house also represents a time long past. But Ecthle has always taken the haunting rumors lightly. Besides, says Ecthle, everyone knows the spookiest place in Olympia is the Forest Memorial Gardens Cemetery. 

"The cemetery was Olympia's Potter's Field," says Ecthle, meaning early on the cemetery served as the place to bury Olympia's poor, unknown or immigrant residents. "There are so many people buried there."

Susan Rohrer, the manager of the State Capital Museum, mentions she had heard the Bigelow House was haunted but hadn't really put much thought into the claims. Rohrer will lead a walking tour Saturday, Oct. 29 exploring famous deaths, weird occurrences and creepy history around Olympia's South Capitol neighborhood.  Rohrer says the tour, which costs $2 and is first come first serve, sticks mostly to the facts of deaths and odd occurrences, but can't help but wander into eerie speculation occasionally.

If any one place merits some eerie speculation, it's the McCleary Mansion on 21st Ave, says Rohrer. 

"People see phantoms and such in the mansion," says Rohrer. "There aren't many people who have worked there that don't come away with a story or two."

The Old Capitol Building is also known as one of the more haunted historic buildings in town. Two Olympia police officers - who preferred not to be named - say they get the willies in the building at night.

"Ask any of the night staff," says Police Officer Number One. "They'll tell you."

Comments for "Everyone has a ghost story"

Comments for this article are currently closed.