Jewish Journal

In the spirit of Halloween: 10 spooky haunts in the LA area

by Julie Bien

October 23, 2013 | 3:45 pm

Ladies and gents, guys and ghouls--in the spirit of Halloween, I'd like to present you with a guide to some of the best ghost-infested locales in the LA area. Although a few of these haunts are hardly hidden, most are not mainstream enough to draw a crowd--perfect for those of you who wish to mingle with the misty apparitions by yourself.

1. The Haunt: Brand Park, Glendale

The Ghost Story: The ghost of Leslie C. Brand, one of the founders and developers of Glendale, is said to roam the halls of the Brand Library at Brand Park. The spirirt of Brand, who is buried on the grounds under a pyramid at the family cemetery plot, can be seen walking up the stairs of the library, speaking to employees and visitors, and hanging about the tower, once Brand's private boudoir.

2. The Haunt: Suicide Bridge/Arroyo Seco Riverbed, Pasadena

The Ghost Story: Built in Pasadena back in 1912, the bridge gained the tragic reputation as a perfect place to commit suicide.The first of dozens of suicides was committed in 1919. With well-over 100 suicides since then, ghost sightings along the bridge and in the dry riverbed below have become common. Several spirits haunt the bridge regularly, including a man with wire rimmed glasses and a woman in a long flowing robe who is often seen throwing herself off of one of the bridge parapets. In the riverbed, which is also a park, people report hearing strange cries and unearthly sounds and seeing misty human forms glide by.

3. The Haunt: Gamble House, Pasadena

The Ghost Story: The Gamble House, perhaps the most well-known craftsman-style house in the country, was once home to the Gamble family (of Proctor and Gamble fame.) Aunt Julia [Huggins] was Mrs. Gamble’s sister who lived with the Gamble family in the house until her death in 1943 – long after Mr. & Mrs. Gamble passed away in 1923 and 1929 respectively. The Gamble House was designed in 1908 by the architectural firm of brothers Charles and Henry Greene. To this day, architecture students can live at the house as apprentices in preservation. Many have stories of late-night encounters with the ghost of Aunt Julia – a benign spirit that can be seen standing by her old bedroom upstairs.

4. The Haunt: Cobb Estate/Echo Mountain Resort Ruins, Altadena

The Ghost Story: Around the turn of the 20th century, Charles Cobb purchased the land and built a summer retreat in the mountains above the estate. The resort had a chalet, a 70 room hotel, casino, and zoo (among other attractions). A number of fires and landslides eventually destroyed the resort, but not the main house below. Cobb, who was an active Mason during his life, left the home at the base of the mountain to be used, after his death in 1939, as a Masonic Home. It was then was used as a retreat by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  In the 1950s, the Marx Brothers purchased the estate and the main house was torn down by 1960--turning the land into a public park. People report negative feelings, being “watched” or even touched, strange lights, laughter, screams, along with tales of Satanic rituals and KKK gatherings in the "haunted forest" of the estate. The ruins of both the main estate and the old resort are accessible to hikers.

5. The Haunt: Santa Anita Race Track, Arcadia

The Ghost Story: The ghost of jockey George Woolf is said to haunt the world-famous racetrack. Woolf was known as the Iceman during his racing days because of his collected and stone cold demeanor before races. He rode some of the most celebrated horses of all time, including Seabiscuit and Whirlaway. Tragically, Woolf also met his demise at the track when he fainted--probably due to having untreated Type I diabetes-- and fell off his horse, suffering a severe head injury. He eventually died in the hospital. Riders, trainers, and visitors claim to have seen him wandering around the stables--unable to say goodbye to the place he loved.

6. The Haunt: The Hollywood Sign, Hollywood

The Ghost Story: In 1932, distraught actress Peg Entwistle, a resident of Beachwood Drive, jumped to her death from the H in the Hollywoodland sign. People who visit the sign after dark have reported  seeing a young woman jumping from the H, and vanishing before hitting the ground. A mysterious woman matching her description, which includes wearing period clothes, has also been seen wandering along the Griffith Park trails, as well as walking up the path between the sign and her former home. The smell of gardenia, the perfume she wore, has been reported to linger near the places she appears.

7. The Haunt: Griffith Park Paco Feliz Adobe, Hollywood 

The Ghost Story: The most well known ghost of Griffith Park is that of Doña Petronilla, often appearing as a young woman in a white dress who is sometimes riding a white horse. She often appears at midnight in the Paco Feliz Adobe. Doña Petronilla is said to have placed a curse on the land in 1863 after learning her uncle, a wealthy land baron, had left her nothing in his will. She swore that every new owner of the land would be cursed. Many locals involved with the land have met brutal ends. C.V. Howard, who negotiated sale of the land’s water rights, was shot dead in a local saloon. The next owner was killed by bandits on a trip to Mexico. In 1891, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, the namesake of the park, managed to survive after a business rival shot him with a shotgun outside of a cemetery. Fearing that the curse would catch up with him, Griffith began giving large parcels of the land to the citizens of Los Angeles for free in 1896. Then, in 1903, Griffith shot his wife at a Santa Monica hotel. She survived, but Griffith was sentenced to San Quentin for assault with a deadly weapon. There, the once mighty man died of liver disease in 1919.

8. The Haunt: HMS Bounty, Koreatown, Los Angeles

The Ghost Story: The HMS Bounty, a nautical-themed bar, is on the ground floor of the Gaylord Apartments which was built in 1921 by millionaire, Gaylord Wilshire. Wilshire purchased the original city dump (and surrounding swampy area) at a low price and converted it into what is now known as the Miracle Mile. Before Wilshire gentrified this then-remote section of the city, it's been said that it was a popular spot to hide the bodies of murder victims. Tenants of this apartment building (both businesses and private residences) have complained of strange knocks on their windows and phantom footsteps in the empty halls. Most notably, there is a ghost that haunts the ladies’ room in the lobby of the building. Women claim to feel an invisible hand touch them, as well as see the reflection of a leering man in the mirror, only to turn around and discover they’re alone. 

9. The Haunt: The Pioneer Cemetery, Sylmar

The Ghost Story: Located on a 3.8 acre site at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street, the Pioneer Cemetery was originally a 10 acre burial ground. The cemetery was established in the mid-19th century and used until 1939. The cemetery is the oldest non-sectarian cemetery in the San Fernando Valley. Over 740 residents were buried there between 1892 and 1939. After the cemetery was determined to be legally abandoned in 1959, it was acquired by the Native Daughters of the Golden West, San Fernando Mission Chapter, and maintained as a pioneer memorial park. Only 13 headstones remain at the cemetery, despite the hundreds of unidentified bodies buried there. The spirits of the unnamed have reportedly been summoned in seances conducted to communicate with the former residents of the town.

10. The Haunt: The Abandoned Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Downey

The Ghost Story: Founded in 1888 as the County Poor Farm, this hospital was a safe haven for the city’s poor and mentally ill. It sat on hundreds of acres of property that also included a farm, a dairy, a zoo and a pauper’s graveyard. In the late '50s, the farm, dairy and mental health wards were closed down, although no one knows why they were abandoned so suddenly.  Old office furniture, files and even mummified body parts have been found in the abandoned buildings. In October 2006, U.S. Marines, who were using the buildings for drills, found a freezer in the morgue containing legs, feet and brain bits.  Although the parts were probably from medical procedures like amputations, it was a disturbing find nonetheless. To add to the creep factor, even during daylight hours, the winding rooms in the complex are pitch black and the flooring is faulty.

*Note to readers: Please be aware that trespassing is illegal. Visiting any place that is closed to the public may result in legal action being taken against you by the owners of the property. As far as I know, the only place on this list that you cannot legally visit is the abandoned hospital in Downey. But just double check. Cool? Cool.

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Hi. I’m Julie.

I’m an LA born-and-bred writer/photographer/blog manager/coffee-drinker-extraordinaire.

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