Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blurry Photos of Georgetown Haunted Tour (Plus One Boring Rant)

My little Halloween posse at Calamity Jane's before the Georgetown Haunted Tour, presented by the Friends of Georgetown History. (Even though I go to Calamity Jane's all the time -- for example, three out of the last four nights -- I finally noticed the back area with the sofa and coffee table. Maybe I'll sit back there next time the front bar tables are taken.)


Folks getting ready to go on the tour outside Coliman Restaurant, originally called the Oxbow Inn.


According to the Georgetown Haunted History Tour 2007 guidebook, a ghost took up residence here in the 1940s, when it was known as the Newcastle Restaurant.

At closing time one night, a man attempted to rob the bartenders. The owner summoned the police, who were able to trap him in the northwest corner of the bar. After a short scuffle, the police shot and killed the robber. To this day, no one sits in that corner.


I know the following photo is ridiculously blurry, but I have to include it here because I took it right before I screamed in terror.

This house was totally done up with gravestones and crawling rats and corpses and pumpkins, and I decided I had to get photos of all these scary figures on the porch. I approached really slowly, afraid of setting off one of the motion sensors in one of the creepy toys. I finally got all the way to the top of the porch, totally transfixed by that corpse sitting up in its coffin and a crawling half-zombie (on the floor, out of frame), when the figure in black (who turned out to be an actual person, of course) started moving and talking.

Yes, I really did scream. Everyone laughed at me. With me, I mean.


Here's the group outside the old Georgetown Steam Plant.


From the guidebook:

Unusual or unexplainable activity thought to be caused by a poltergeist has been reported. On several occasions, pallets loaded with tools have unexplainably begun to move, clatter, and band around.

And here we are in front of the old Country Inn Roadhouse.


The Country Inn is the only remaining roadhouse in Georgetown, its gaming hall having been converted to a grocery in 1911. Ghost hunters gave identified several spirits residing in this building, inlcuding a Mediterranean-looking man in a white apron who haunts the storefront, and a prostitute who leans out of a second-story window.

I did not get any decent photos of the Georgetown Castle -- sorry! But here's the old Georgetown Funeral Home.


The bodies of many of Georgetown's residents spent their last days here before being transported to the Comet Lodge Cemetery. Rumor has it that neighbors can still hear the eerie "clip-clop" of horses' hooves pulling a funeral cart up the hill.

A freaky little black cat joined our group at one point in the evening and followed us all the way to the tour's end. She darted around, scurrying up and down trees, sometimes letting people pet her and sometimes not.



The tour ended at the old Rainier Brewery, where we heard a presentation about the spooky old Comet Lodge Cemetery up here on Beacon (formerly Mapel) Hill. (You can see more photos of the cemetery here. I think I'll go back there with my new camera soon.)


Here's a photo of a funeral here in the early 1900s. Behind the mourners, you can see all the gravestones of the children's section of the cemetery. That area was bulldozed in the 1980s to make way for 11 new homes.


In one home parents claim to have seen the spirit of a youngster playing with their children's toys. Another family told of a boy dressed in clothing from the early 1900s who regularly appeared in the bedroom of one of their young daughters.

This cemetery is just a few blocks from my house, and the area creeps me out. Not because of the graves, though. The remaining gravestones are all jumbled together in a disarray of clusters, but they're still beautiful, and the site itself seems peaceful. A few Halloweens ago, I was dared to go down into the cemetery at night by myself and touch one of the gravestones. Even though I spook easily (screaming in fright at people in costume and all), I had no problem with that challenge.

But I think that area of Graham Street is terrible. Just last month, my neighbor -- a school bus driver, a Hurricane Katrina victim, and the father of a 4-year-old -- was shot and killed right across from the cemetery. One night he heard noise coming from a car in his front yard, and when he went out to go investigate, one of the occupants shot and killed him.

I figured the South Precinct -- which is just a 3-minute, 0.94-mile drive away -- must have been buzzing about this terrible unsolved crime. So when the South Precinct community liaison, whose job is to relay information between the police and neighborhood groups about local crime, came to our block watch meeting a couple weeks later, I figured we'd find out what the hell happened that night. But instead, he told us he hadn't even heard about it. Even now, a month and a half later, I think the Seattle P-I was the only local media outlet to really acknowledge this man's life.

Sometimes I feel that South Seattle is like Cowslip's rabbit warren in that book Watership Down. Sure, we were able to buy nice houses for much less money than in northern parts of the city, some of us have 10,000-square-foot-lots (just minutes from downtown!), and we get to enjoy the lovely, affordable restaurants in Georgetown and Columbia City. But every once in a while, one of us gets picked off, and we're all supposed to act like it's no big deal. From the Wikipedia entry on Cowslip:

Once, the warren was a wild one, but ... [the] farmer nearby ... decided to rear the remaining rabbits; he shot all possible predators and laid food out for the rabbits, even in winter. In these conditions, all the rabbits were able to live prosperous, lazy lives, despite the fact that the occasional rabbit went missing (through the farmer's snares). They practice un-rabbitlike customs (dancing in greeting; morbid songs; laughing), and pretend that everything is perfectly all right in their warren. Any and all who question the status quo is silenced, because to do so would be to face the brutal reality of their situation.

Anyway, the Comet Lodge area is also a dumping ground for furniture and trash. Graffiti is rampant--people let whole walls of their homes fill up with tags and never paint it out. Right now there's an abandoned (?) van collecting leaves at the side of the cemetery. The sidewalk that runs down the hill on Graham is always full of weeds and trash, and it passes one of the largest blackberry weed fields in urban Seattle.

But that's Mid Beacon Hill. Let's get back to the blurry pictures of Georgetown.

Theater Off Jackson and Circus Contraption put on a beautiful performance in the old Brew House. The actors told an old Georgetown story of love gone wrong, of drinking, and of death.


A spooky little group played gorgeous carnival music upstairs.


And a couple of blacklit skeleton dancers contorted and cavorted for a highly appreciative crowd.




(You can see much clearer photos that I took of the Brew House here.)

Holly did not dress up, but she did tend bar.


Amie offered candy cigarettes to anyone willing to do a performance for her. This guy danced a jig.


And across the street, Nosferatu terrorized Carpathian villagers all night long.



chuck b. said...

Wow, and I thought San Francisco was the place to be for Halloween. You guys do it up early and do it right in Beacon Hill.

Very sad about the shooting death. That's terrible. Someone was shot and killed a half-block away from our house one Friday night while Guy and I were snuggled on the couch watching TV. (Turned out to be gang-related so it's not as sad as your story. I don't mean that--I've been watching Sarah Silverman on tivo.)

Maybe you should lobby your police department to get CrimeMaps software. It won't stop crime, (well, not directly) but it will keep everyone informed about what's going on in the neighborhood. Also, can't you call the police to ticket the property owner with the graffiti? That kind of shit has to stop.

2L said...

Thanks for the recap of the Haunted Tour! I was sad not to be able to make it, but hope to next year. I just moved to Georgetown and had no idea how haunted it supposedly is!