There are many types of reported ‘hauntings.’ Old, abandoned prisons and hospitals are popular locations for supposed spirits, along with graveyards, churches and historical sites. But there is also an abundance of allegedly haunted mansions across the country, including in Washington state. You can see this in the list of investigations completed by regional paranormal investigators, like the Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle-Tacoma.
Oftentimes wealthy settlers who helped grow a certain area would build a mansion in that region. Some are said to house the families even after they die, remaining their home in the afterlife. This is often because of a tragic life or devastating death rumored to cause such haunting.
Popular examples of such homes include the Whaley House in San Diego, the Winchester House in San Jose and the Sprague Mansion in Rhode Island. But are there any similar stories for mansions in Washington?
Haunted mansions in Washington state
Turns out, several mansions in the state are historic landmarks — and reportedly haunted. The following mentions are no longer private residences and may be open for visitors.
▪ Eastern Washington
The most relevant example in the Tri-Cities area is the Moore Mansion in Pasco, which is now used as an event center. The three-story mansion was built in 1908 by James Moore, a significant developer in the Northwest. He created numerous landmarks in the state, including Capitol Hill in Seattle and the Washington Hotel.
The mansion overlooking the Columbia River was reportedly meant to be the final home for Moore’s sick wife after a doctor recommended a more dry climate. She died before moving into the mansion. It was passed around different owners for several decades after, eventually being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Former employees and others have observed a dark figure in the mansion.
While there are no examples open to the public in Benton County, residents can take a short trip to Walla Walla to visit the Kirkman House Museum. Built in 1880 for William and Isabelle Kirkman, and their children, the house is the second-oldest brick building in Walla Walla, according to the museum website.
Upon moving in, the couple had four living children — they had five other children that died in their youth. The Kirkmans had their tenth child while living in the mansion, but she died two days after being born.
The mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and has been a non-profit museum for several decades. If you stop by for a tour, ask your guide about reported hauntings. Some say members of the Kirkman family are seen around the house.
▪ Pierce County
The home of Puyallup’s founder and first mayor, Ezra Manning Meeker, and his family, was built in 1890 using the profits from Meeker’s successful hops business. He was one of the first growers in the region and was well-known for his crops, until the majority were ruined by pests.
Meeker turned to several other ventures following the fall of his hops success. He became an advocate for western expansion, having already traversed the Oregon Trail successfully. He completed the trip several more times in efforts to publicize the trail and further expansion into western states.
While Ezra and his brother were finding land and beginning lives in the Pacific Northwest, the rest of their family was making the trek across the Oregon Trail. Both his mother and another brother died on the trip.
Ezra and his wife Eliza reportedly remain in the home. Now operating as a museum, you can take a self-guided tour or request a period-accurate guide.
The Thornewood Castle in Lakewood was built in 1911 for Chester Thorne, one of the Port of Tacoma founders, and his wife Anna. Situated on four acres at American Lake, the mansion is the only genuine private castle on the West Coast. The wealthy couple is said to remain in the castle.
The socialites had one child while living in the home, a daughter Anita. She fell ill with Scarlet Fever and went partially deaf. She would hide from social events near a porch swing, and is reportedly seen on the porch still.
As she got married and had children, Anita continued to live in the castle, her family joining her. It is reported that one of these children died in one of the ponds on the castle’s spacious grounds. He is seen outside, often near water, by visitors.
Other phenomena have been reported at the spacious estate. It now offers overnight stays, vacation rentals, event venues and more.
▪ Thurston County
The oldest residence in Olympia is the Bigelow House, now a functioning museum on Washington’s early history. It was built by the lawyer and legislator Daniel Bigelow and his wife Ann Elizabeth White in the 1850s, according to the museum website. The couple was pivotal in the Washington territory, particularly regarding public education and women’s rights.
The couple had eight children they raised in the home, some of whom remained in the residence their entire lives.
The Bigelow family remained in the house through 2005, even after its start as a museum. It is now solely a museum, open to the public for tours. Staff has reportedly seen an apparition examining the displays.
More haunted mansions in WA
Some of the more notoriously haunted locations in Washington are a bit further out. While they may require a road trip or weekend vacation to visit, those in search of a true haunting may have better luck at these estates.
▪ Port Gamble
Many paranormal experts have listed the Walker-Ames House in Port Gamble as the number-one most haunted location in the Evergreen State. The mansion was built in 1889 for the town sawmill’s master mechanic, William Walker. The manager, Edwin Ames, went on to marry Walker’s daughter and live in the home as well.
The house is open for tours, since no one has lived in the home since the mill closed in 1995. Yet children have been reported inside the home on numerous occasions. Touring guests have reportedly experienced weird phenomena.
Little is known about what went on inside the mansion, or any tragedy that would keep spirits in the home. But Port Gamble is known for its paranormal experiences and organized ghost tours, so some believe it is the town as a whole keeping spirits around.
▪ Port Townsend
This coastal town is notorious for its haunted history, and the entire town is often included on lists of Washington’s most haunted locations. With such a rich history and tendency for alleged spooky sightings, it’s no surprise that there are multiple supposedly haunted estates in Port Townsend.
One of the most-discussed locations is Manresa Castle. A former member of the McClatchy Northwest Service Journalism Team, a self-identified scaredy-cat, stayed at the castle in an attempt to learn about the history and paranormal activity at the location. Read about his trip here.
Successful contractor George Starrett built this magnificent mansion for his wife Ann in 1889, full of romantic designs and gestures throughout. They had one son and a few employees, including a loyal nanny. It is reported that the family lived very happily.
Unlike many of the other reported haunted domiciles, the spirits reported in the Starrett Mansion are kind and peaceful. Some believe the family returns to the home because of how happy they were in life. Ever the faithful servant, the only adverse interactions with ghosts reported in the home are believed to be punishments from the nanny to guests who break house rules.
The home is now open for overnight stays, and many visitors report enjoying the seemingly unexplainable experiences they have.
Do you know another haunted location in Washington? Do you have a question for the McClatchy Northwest Service Journalism Team? Use this form: