Halloween: What better time could there be to share tales of local haunted houses?
This spirited sampler begins in the Coombsville area in east Napa. A few years ago, a couple purchased a 1929 farmhouse out there. They moved into the old house when they began to build a new modern one.
Occasionally they were disturbed by unusual noises but the couple managed to shrug it off until the night the wife was startled out of her sleep by a strange noise. She saw her husband, clad in a T-shirt and jeans, looking out a window. She said, “What are you doing? Do you see something?”
“What are you talking about?” he asked — he was lying in bed next to her. She looked back towards the window and saw nothing.
Eventually they finished their new house and razed the old one, but the new one had inexplicable problems: Lights would flicker at odd times and the alarm system would go on for no reason. Technical problems, you might say, but they could find no explanation for the glitches. Eventually they were forced to disconnect the battery-operated alarm system and live with the flickering lights — and possibly with the ghosts from the old house.
Not far from this Coombsville area haunt is the old city water works, which many believe is a hotbed of paranormal activity. A former resident of the neighborhood said, “At night you could hear someone or something walking on the front deck. But when you’d look out nothing was there. Then you’d hear the big, and locked, metal front door open and close. As it ascended the stairs, a chilling cold rush of anger would fill the house. It was so negative and scary. One time my dad had had enough and started yelling at the ghost to stop. In response, part of a small interior wall imploded leaving a big hole. Others who have lived in the area have admitted to witnessing eerie sights, sounds and events.”
This former resident had one more spectral story about a house in central Napa. “A tenant of mine has told me she has seen my late grandmother in the kitchen of the house,” she said. “The tenant said my grandmother seems to just want to keep an eye on what is going on in her old kitchen. Also, the tenant told me that my grandmother appears to be wearing a blue robe. Unbeknownst to my tenant, we buried my grandmother in a blue robe.”
More supernatural activity can be found within a downtown Napa Victorian office. Originally a residence, this building appears to host an ethereal clock-watcher. “She seems to be an elderly woman,” said a co-owner. “For those who are working late at the building, she lets them know when it’s time to go home. She knocks or pounds on the upstairs walls starting around 10-10:30 p.m.
“Some of the other tenants have tried to set her free. They have encouraged her to walk towards the light. Although I haven’t seen or felt her presence, I think she should be left alone. Besides, she is not causing any problems or damage.”
Another tenant, a technician, has actually seen and heard this spirit. “The first day I started working here I saw something whoosh around the corner,” she said. “It seemed solid yet I could see through it. The ghost seems to favor the women in the building when she makes her appearances.
“For awhile the building owners were remodeling the space next to my office. There was of course a lot of pounding and noise. One time the pounding on the wall adjoining my office continued late into the night. I got up from my desk to see what they were doing. When I got out into the hallway every light in the building was out except for mine. Then I went around the corner into the room being remodeled. It was completely empty, and nobody was there. I thought, ‘Uh-oh!’ Before going back into my office I stood in the hallway. I could hear shuffling of papers and a sound similar to a copier running. The noises were coming from the front office.”
Returning to work the next morning, the tech made an interesting discovery. “When I looked into the front office there was no copier or any machines. That office, occupied by the co-owner, seems to have the most energy and strongest sense of the ghost,” she said.
The tech finished her spectral account with one last ghostly gem. She said, “One of the building’s owners told me that when they were remodeling the front office, they found a photo of the ghost, when living of course. They put it on a shelf for safe keeping. The next morning it was gone!”
He also shared an account of another local haunt. This story began about three years ago in an older Napa neighborhood. The young son of two local attorneys told his parents separately that he had seen a ghostly old lady in their home. Uncertain as to how to broach the subject, neither one talked to the other about this revelation.
“Then one night while tucking his son into bed, the father felt a cold presence enter the room. It made the hair on the back of his neck stand up,” said the man. The couple quickly began talking and discussed what to do. “They told the ghost the house was now theirs and her room was now their son’s bedroom. They also told the ghost it was time for her to go. It seems to have worked, as they have not experienced anymore paranormal events.” He added, “I consider this couple to be intelligent, science-minded and sane.”
Local historian Rebecca Yerger tells Halloween tales from the silly to scary at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville today, from noon to 2 p.m., for ages 8 and up.