Ghost stories abound in haunted downtown - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Ghost stories abound in haunted downtown

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009 5:55 pm | Updated: 12:43 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

You don't need a bunch of fancy paranormal-detection equipment to get the impression downtown Mesa is haunted. The tree-lined stretch of West Main Street at times seems so devoid of living creatures that it could almost pass for a ghost town.

Monster list of fall and Halloween events

You don't need a bunch of fancy paranormal-detection equipment to get the impression downtown Mesa is haunted. The tree-lined stretch of West Main Street at times seems so devoid of living creatures that it could almost pass for a ghost town.

Find out where to scare up some October fun

Throwing a boo-tiful Halloween bash

And it is, in a way. There are so many spooky tales surrounding the strip's historic buildings (which, by the way, teem with a wide variety of successful businesses, apartment homes, art galleries and real-live people) that the Mesa Historical Museum is hosting a walking tour focusing on the myths and mysteries. It takes place 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

"It's a hundred percent history, and a good half - if not more - of the buildings have ghost stories," says Alice Jung, a tour organizer who also works at the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

During the 90-minute walk, guides will shed light on the lore of 12 to 15 buildings, many dating from the late 1800s.

"We're going into the basement of the Antique Plaza, where they've seen a ghost, and into Queens Pizzeria and Mystic Paper, which have also had ghost sightings," Jung says. "We've been getting lots of calls and e-mails from people who say, 'You have to hear what happened when I lived or worked there.' They're all pretty consistent with the things they're reporting: sounds, smells, sightings of figures, things being moved around."

Debe Branning, a local author and director of MVD Ghostchasers, a 15-year-old group that investigates paranormal activity in historic hotels, train depots and restaurants throughout Arizona, says there are no shortage of ghost stories in Mesa."The Landmark restaurant is the big one everyone's probably heard. It was originally a Mormon church, and people on the staff have always said they've heard people walking around the building, or that they feel someone standing behind them but turn around and no one's there. At one time, it was said a woman would appear in the women's bathroom and that the water would come on by itself," she says.

Other tales she's heard from Mesa residents concern items falling off shelves and strange noises at the Circle K at University Drive and Center Street, site of the city's original cemetery, and a little girl who appears in the backyard of Inside the Bungalow, an old house converted into a coffee shop and yoga studio. The old hospital and officers' club at Williams Air Force Base - now the campus of ASU Polytechnic - is said to be haunted, and it's been said that customers who sit on a certain stool in a west Mesa bar inexplicably order the favorite drink of a deceased patron who sat on the stool daily.

In east Mesa, near University Drive and Ellsworth Road, Branning says people have reported that the ghost of a boy who was hit by a car is sometimes seen riding his bicycle along the side of the road.

"That one I believe, because I've seen him. I remember noticing a kid on a bike from a little way off and thinking, 'When I get to this corner, I need to pay attention and make sure I know where he is.' But by the time I got there, he had disappeared," says Branning.

Jung says some people believe there are secret tunnels beneath downtown, and the tour will touch on that mystery with visits to two suspected tunnel sites.

"Ghost stories get handed down through the years, and it's like that game of telephone: By the time you hear them, they've changed completely. You have to go all the way back to the old newspaper accounts of the time to get back to what really happened someplace, and then you can see how some of the stories might have grown," says Branning.

As for the tour, Jung says guides will leave it up to tour-goers to make up their own minds on Mesa's ghosts.

  • Discuss

Facebook

GetOut on Facebook

Twitter

GetOut on Twitter

Google+

GetOut on Google+

RSS

Subscribe to GetOut via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px
Your Az Jobs