If you're really, really, really into Halloween, you're probably really, really, really into the whole haunted house thing. But how does one indulge that proclivity in an ordinary city like Bakersfield? We don't have any old, creaky castles! Ah, but that's where your 10 Things team comes to the rescue. We did a little research and here's what we found in the way of haunted places around town.
1. Sinaloa Restaurant: Before the Sinaloa Restaurant was a restaurant, the building housed a children's shelter, a boxing gym, an Italian restaurant and a mortuary, as The Californian reported in 2011. And throughout all these changes, two ghost stories have emerged.
One story tells of a man who was killed during a boxing match, whose spirit still walks the halls. Visitors have said they can sometimes hear a bell ringing in the distance, and a man shouting in pain.
It is also believed that many of the bodies brought to the mortuary left their spirits behind, causing customers to report the feeling of "strange cold winds" and "wailing."
2. The Padre Hotel: It’s been called the “shining star" of downtown. Indeed, the eight-story Spanish colonial revival structure that comprises the Padre Hotel houses a piece of Bakersfield history. It harbors something more chilling, too.
First constructed in 1928 with 198 guest rooms, its auspicious and flamboyant beginning took a turn when, in 2008, renovation crews began to report tools disappearing from their work site. Many have attributed it to the former owner, Milton "Spartacus" Miller, who may not have been pleased by his building's restoration, The Californian reported in 2011.
Different stories linger about the origin of some of the ghosts, ranging from people who died in a 1950s fire to suicide victims who jumped off the roof.
The hotel's seventh floor is a particularly a hotbed; it is there that visitors most often say they saw or were pushed by spirits. The most active such spirit is reportedly that of a little girl, still dressed in the garb of the 1920s, who can be heard giggling through the halls — and has left an immovable child-sized handprint in the hotel’s lobby cafe. Workers have repeatedly painted over the handprint, only to have it reappear.
3. Bakersfield High School: BHS is a bustling metropolis during the day, but at night, behind closed doors, it's another story altogether.
Established as Kern County High School in 1893, the place is the subject of a slew of ghostly stories.
A teenage couple is sometimes spotted in the upper part of the football stadium's bleachers — the girl wearing a prom dress and the boy a letterman’s jacket, reported The Californian in 2011.
The school’s iconic Harvey Auditorium is reportedly haunted by a worker who fell from its rafters all the way into the basement.
And the school's quad, which sits on what was once part of a hospital grounds, was allegedly used to bury the body parts of deceased patients.
4. Fox Theater: Some believe the Fox Theater is also haunted. If that's so, that means it has been haunted since it was built.
During construction of the Fox Theater in 1930, it is believed that a man fell to his death while working on the giant clock tower. Some have reported seeing the shadow of a man floating near the top of the tower, as if he were working on the clock's hour hand.
The theater was designed by Los Angeles-based motion picture theater architect S. Charles Lee (1899 –1990), built by Beller Construction, and supervised by local architect Charles H. Biggar (1882 –1946).
The three-story Spanish Colonial Revival-style building opened on Dec. 25, 1930, as the only air-conditioned movie theater in the San Joaquin Valley, as The Californian previously reported.
The only air-conditioned building? No wonder the ghost never wanted to leave.
5. The Nile Theater: The theater, also known as the Bakersfield Opera House, opened in 1906. The theater became a movie theater in 1924 and in 1938 it was demolished.
The Californian says the theater was designed by Los Angeles-based Wilson, Merrill, and Alexander Architects and constructed by Los Angeles-based Wesco Construction Company. The Nile Theater operated as a twin-screen movie theater from 1976 until its closing in 1994. In 2006, the building reopened as the Nile Bar & Grill.
Legend has it that an actor suffered a heart attack onstage and died during a production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni," according to The Californian. Many have said his ghost still haunts the theater.
Perhaps he is still seeking the standing ovation he was denied the night of his death.
6. The Woolworth's Building: Built in 1939, the Woolworth's building opened to the public at its current location on May 6, 1950.
The Jackson Brothers of Los Angeles constructed the modernistic four-story concrete building. The F.W. Woolworth five-and-dime store closed in January 1994 and reopened as the Five & Dime Antique Mall in December 1994.
The antique mall features the original luncheonette counter. During World War II, The Californian reported in 2011, the basement was used as a bomb shelter, and it still has many of the supplies from that time period. Legend has it a ghost named Arnold rearranges the antique displays at night.
7. Haberfelde Building: George Haberfelde (1871-1962), a civic and business leader in the community, contracted with local architect Charles H. Biggar (1882 –1946) to construct the Haberfelde Building, a five-story office and retail building. When completed in 1927, the Haberfelde was one of the tallest buildings in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
Although the building is historical and beautiful, its construction didn't go so well. It is said that two workers died during the building's construction, and occupants have said they can often hear a man's scream, followed by a loud crash.
Could simply be that this is a clumsy ghost?
8. Kern County Museum: Founded in 1941, the Kern County Museum, with its 55-plus historical buildings, is alive with paranormal sightings.
Dozens of artifacts chronicling the area’s Native American and oil-drilling history occupy 16 acres of beautiful grounds. What other remnants of Kern County’s past are still there?
The National Directory of Haunted Places and the book “Mysterious California” tell us visitors have reported sightings of ghostly children outside of the Norris School building, which dates to at least 1882. A few other buildings have attracted reports of hauntings as well, including what is now known as the Weill House. One visitor to the website “Weird California,” a database that curates local ghost sightings, even posted a snapshot of an alleged “ghostly figure” spotted in one of the second floor windows of the Kern County Museum's building. Fact or fiction? Decide for yourself.
9. Garces Circle: Originally built as a traffic roundabout in 1932 as part of Highway 99's construction, the Garces Circle has been a site of paranormal activity for decades.
The statue of the Franciscan missionary, Father Garces, was added to the center of the circle in 1939. Soon after, legend has it, motorists reported seeing the statue wave its arms when a major car accident occurs.
The National Directory of Haunted Places and the book “Mysterious California” say some wreck victims have even reported hearing the statue utter a prayer an instant before impact. Is it a warning of danger or a prayer for mercy?
10. Mill Creek: Use caution if you dare venture to Bakersfield’s Mill Creek Park, near the Bakersfield Museum of Art, at night.
Over the years nearby residents and shop owners have claimed to have seen a woman wearing long, flowing robes floating above the canal, The Californian reported in 2011.
She is believed to have been murdered in the old foundry across from the park. Her bones reportedly were discovered when the foundry's floor was torn up.
Visitors to the website “Weird California” have written about experiencing the apparition in the park’s tunnel, floating in a puddle of water. She can then be seen floating toward unsuspecting park goers as they leave the area.
We’re not sure about you, but we’re hoping this is one adventure “Pokemon Go” will never take us through.
Compiled by TBS staff, with help from Dianne Hardisty.