Sonoma County is known for its agriculture, wine, farm fresh foods and… ghosts? That’s right, we’re not only Wine Country, we’re ghost country.
With Halloween right around the corner, here are four Sonoma County places where spirits have reportedly been spotted.
Note: This article is done in fun, and neither confirms or denies the presence of ghosts or spirits. This article has also been amended to omit Madrona Manor in Healdsburg from this list, as there have been no actual reports or sightings of ghosts or spirits.
Phoenix Theater in Petaluma
It was 1983 when Tom Gaffey took over the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. The theater was appropriately named, as it had risen from the ashes of two devastating fires. The ownership change transformed the Phoenix to a teen hangout and rock concert venue which included a massive redesign of the interior. One thing that didn’t change, it seems, are the spirits that remained with the building.
Gaffey told the Petaluma Argus-Courier about several times when a call came from the projection room of the building on nights when he was alone.
“Three times I mustered my courage, turned the lights back on and burst into the projection booth. There was no one there,” he said.
Gaffey also described blue lights seen floating through the building, felt heavy footsteps on an empty stage and sightings of a young boy and an older man.
See more about the ghosts of the Phoenix Theater here.
Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma
Sit front and center at Sonoma’s Sebastiani Theatre, and you might find that you’ve stolen one young spirit’s favorite seat. A female ghost has reportedly haunted those who dare to take her seat, and another has appeared in the women’s bathroom.
“Apparently many people have seen her in the mirror,” parks docent Pat Dennett said.
See more about Sonoma’s haunted places here.
Hotel La Rose in Santa Rosa
Built in 1907, Hotel La Rose was where many railroad passengers stayed the night in town. But according to legend, one family checked in and never left. Staff at the Santa Rosa hotel now say room 42, where the family had stayed, is haunted and that a small boy named Daniel rides up and down the elevators looking for his parents.
Washoe House in Petaluma
This historic restaurant on the outskirts of Petaluma is famously known as the site of “The Battle of Washoe House,” which ended up not being a battle at all.
Soldiers preparing to wreak havoc on nearby towns stopped at this watering hole for a drink. The nightcap apparently was all that was needed to convince the soldiers to turn around and go back. However, one man reportedly shot himself in a room upstairs and it’s said his spirit remained.
Last year, Norcal Paranormal Investigators came to check out whether the ghostly tales were true. The ghost-busting team are now convinced, especially after capturing photographic evidence.
“In one photo is an apparition from the torso up of a balding gentleman standing near the window. You can totally see him and you can see right through him,” said NPI case manager Tami Oakey.
Additionally, another apparition, donning a cowboy hat, can be spied standing next to the balding specter.
“It’s basically two spirit images in one photo,” said Oakey.
Check out more about Washoe House’s haunting spirits here.
Want to know about more haunted places around Sonoma County? Petaluma filmmaker Tom Wyrsch presents his documentary Haunted Wine Country at Summerfield Cinemas on Friday, Nov. 10. Find out more about the film here, and visit his website at www.hauntedsonomacounty.com.
Haunted Wine Country
What: A documentary by Petaluma filmmaker Tom Wyrsch
When: Friday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.
Where: Summerfield Cinemas, 551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa