27 September 2011

Haunted Seattle - Spirits of Seattle Ghost Tour

Last Friday I had the great pleasure of going on the Spirits of Seattle Ghost Tour with some good friends of mine.  Unlike a lot of the other ghost tours in town, this tour was done by van rather than on foot.  On the plus side van tours can cover a lot of ground and are climate controlled; on the minus side a tour in a vehicle doesn’t have the same visceral feel of a walking tour where you get to hear the stories while being immersed in the energy of a place (although there were a few stops on the tour where we could get out and really get a feel for things).  The tour was about 2 ½ hours long and ranged all over town, going from Lake Union, through downtown, up to Capitol Hill, and then back downtown again.

The van picked us up at the South end of Lake Union, near the new park, and the tour began with a bit of local history as we drove towards downtown.  Our guide, Jake, was really knew her history and told a decent story.  We were shown several haunted buildings, such as an old public hall turned bar turned recital hall, and told of the various activity reported there.  I must admit, that these were mostly such common haunts that they weren’t particularly engrossing (the activities were the typical shadowy figures, cold spots, odd noises, and residuals of any haunt).  I was much more interested in the activity we’d hear about up on Capitol Hill, as I knew less about that area.  I was not disappointed.’

The first stop of the tour was at a former church up on 16th and E John (now home to a marketing firm).  We got out of the van and heard how the main church area is haunted by the spirit of a former minster, while the top floors of the rectory are haunted by the spirit of his wife.  We got to walk around the building and enjoy the beautiful stone construction and stained glass.  For anyone with energetic sense, this building was a trip!  You could actually feel the presence of spirits from outside the building.  It was obvious that the former minister was not happy that his beautiful church had been desecrated and turned into something else.  I could also feel the presence of his wife looking out at us from the top floor of the former rectory, but she felt very sad rather than angry.

From there we moved on to Volunteer Park, one of my favorite places on the Hill.  I had known that what is now Lake View Cemetery had been moved from the park over to the lot next door but I hadn’t realized that it was specifically the land that is now the reservoir.  You learn something every day.

The real surprise of the tour was seeing the GAR Cemetery that’s just on the other side of Lake View.  How had I not known that existed?  There’s a whole extra cemetery just North of Lakeview that is the home to the Civil War veterans that settled here in Seattle.  It’s a pretty little cemetery that was alive with energy on the night of the Equinox.  It’s not as big or as impressive as Lake View, but I think this little plot has a lot more ghostly activity, perhaps because everyone buried there was a man of action.

Then we drove back down the hill to downtown.  We passed the Moore Theater and the adjoining building The Josephnian.  Having been there a time or two, I knew the Moore had some ooky energy, but I hadn’t realized that it was haunted (though I should have, as just about all theaters are). 

From there we went past the old Butterworth’s Mortuary (now Kells and a few vacant floors).  I’ve discussed Kells pretty thoroughly in a previous entry so I won’t now.

Overall it was good fun.  This tour covered a lot of ground that I hadn’t known much about and the guide was very knowledgeable and fun.  I must admit that it wasn’t the spookiest tour I’ve been on, being a bit heavier on facts and phenomena than personal accounts and storytelling.  It didn’t help that the other group of friends on the tour with us was a gaggle of giggling drunk girls that pretty much destroyed any hint of atmosphere Jake managed to create.  The company the runs this also does a true crime tour that I definitely want to go on – without the drunk girls in the back.

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