From the Librarian Files
Ghosts in Tucson
This list of reported sightings of ghosts and unexplained phenomena in Tucson was gathered from media reports and books on the subject. (It's not a complete list of all reported sightings.)
Bank of America 902 N. Stone Avenue. The ghost of a bearded man has been seen in the bank lobby. He appears to be about 25 years old and of average height. Unexplained footsteps on the stairs and self-slamming doors have been reported. The feeling of cold spots around the building and the fragrance of heavy perfume adds to the legend.
Barrio Historico House 46 W Simpson St. A man appears inside the bedroom. A little girl wearing a red and white striped dress and brown shoes also appears. The girl has been described as being about seven or eight years old with light brown braided hair. The little girl, named “La muchachita,” is reported to open drawers and the move framed photographs from room to room.
Bloom Elementary School 8310 E Pima Street. The spirit of a dead principal haunts here. Doors lock and unlock and there are various apparitions.
Bonilla's Elementary School 4757 E. Winsett. A young girl in an old fashioned flowered dress with blond hair and a matching bow is sometimes seen in the first grade girls’ restroom.
Catalina High School 3645 E. Pima St. The ghost of a school custodian, Martin Valencia is said to haunt the school. While working at the school In the 1970s, Valencia suffered a heart attack and died on the job.. The ghost of Valencia was reportedly seen cleaning the restrooms in June 1980 before the graduation ceremonies. Trash containers and cleaning supplies disappear and turn up other places and doors slam shut and lights turn off.
Charles O. Brown House 40 E. Broadway. "A specter is haunting Downtown's historical Brown House - the specter of Clara Brown, some say. Ghost rumor has it that a very real spirit loiters around the old building, causing the hair on the back of one's neck to stand up." (Clara Brown, Downtown's Very Own Ghost) People who have seen a woman in a long dress standing in the parking lot have speculated that it is the ghost of Clara Brown, wife of Charles O. Brown, who lived in Tucson until her death in 1932 at age 86.
Colossal Cave (Vail) 16711 Colossal Cave Road. There was once a "lady in white" who haunted the cave and its entrance. This lade has not been seen in quite a while. There is the ghost of an Indian Maiden who, while running from a bear, entered the cave to escape only to be killed by the 12 foot drop at that original entrance. Her sobs and cries have been heard inside the cave. The ghost of Frank Schmidt, one of the developers of Colossal Cave, is said to haunt the cave. The ghost reportedly has been seen checking up on activities around the cave.
Davis Bilingual School 500 W. Saint Mary's Road. A female spirit appears in one of the classroom here during the dawn hours.
Davis Monthan Air Force Base The ghost of a WWII pilot wanders around the mothballed aircraft. When he is there patrol lights and flashlights don't work. It's been said that the ghost takes a path right through security fences, crosses Kolb road and disappears.
El Tiradito (Wishing Shrine) 221 S. Main Ave. There have been many reportings of ghosts here over the years. One of the reported ghosts is a child named Pedro. Pedro was a 6-year-old boy murdered near the shrine.
Fort Lowell Park Residents of this neighborhood report wispy figures and doors unlocking on their own. Laughter has been heard when no one is around. A soldier is said to have haunted the area in 1900. Residents shot at this ghost soldier but the bullets passed right through him.
Fox Theater 17 W. Congress Street. The spirit of a man from the Depression Era has been known to wander the theater asking for money to feed his family.
Fred G. Acosta Job Corps 901 South Campbell Avenue. Doors locked by security at closing are found open again the next morning. There are shadows, lights, whispers and lots of cold spots.
Grant Road Ghost 3402 E. Grant Road. Now Tom's Used Furniture, previously this spot was a Tia Elena, a Mexican food restaurant. This ghost, that is said to have ties to this location, is a woman that appears as a dark, shadowy figure.
Hotel Congress 311 E Congress Street. According to local lore, Hotel Congress is home to many ghosts. Among them are:
- The spirit of a man who passed away from a heart attack has been seen peeking from one of the windows here.
- A cowboy's ghost has been seen in the basement.
- A female ghost dressed in Victorian Clothing is seen on the stairwell or in the lobby. When she appears there is a distinctive scent of roses.
- The ghost of a man with the initials "T.S." is often seen on the second floor. "T.S." died in a gunfight that arose from an argument over a card game in the Hotel Congress's lobby. This ghost is always dressed in an old-fashioned gray suit and frequently seen peeking out of the upper floor windows.
- A permanent resident of the hotel still haunts the place. "Vince" lived in the hotel for 36 years, since his death in 2001 he haunts the place. Employees have found butter knives from the hotel's Cup Café in difference places on the second floor. Vince carried a butter knife that he would use as a screwdriver.
South Campus Banner—University Medical Center (formerly Kino Community Hospital) 2800 E Ajo Way. A spirit called "George" is said to haunt the hospital. George gets blamed for pulling out chairs; he has been seen in the hospital basement right before disappearing into the solid wall.
Li'l Abner Steakhouse 8500 N. Silverbell Road. Various ghosts haunt this building. Muffled conversations and knocking on the doors are heard. One ghost dates from when this building was an eyeglass factory. The ghost is an ex-factory worker who is looking for his lost eyeglasses. There is another ghost called "George." George is shy and only seen by the restaurant's staff. He is the ghost of a maintenance worker who died in the 1990s. George has been seen standing at the bar drinking a Coke. (Like he did when he was alive.) Also the staff has heard the ghost of George crunching on Cap'n Crunch cereal.
Luz Academy of Tucson 2797 N. Introspect Dr. Luz Academy of Tucson used to be Desert Hills Behavioral Treatment Center. There are numerous rumors about deaths on the grounds of the school. Some report seeing a middle aged woman with long curly black hair wandering the hallways. There are also reports that there is the spirit of a young boy, who tries to leave, throughout the school. Lights can be seen switching on and off and voices and other noises can be heard in many areas of the school.
Office Building of Attorney Louis W. Barassi 485 S. Main Ave. In 2003, this office was occupied by attorney Louis W. Barassi. The attorney and his staff claimed that the building was haunted based on unexplained happenings. A heavy briefcase was forcefully slammed to the floor without any obvious reason. An attorney was forcefully pushed against the wall by an invisible force. Items on Barassi’s desk had been found scattered.
Pioneer Hotel (Now an office building) 100 N Stone. In 1970, the Pioneer Hotel was severely damaged by an arson fire that killed 29 people and the area above the false ceiling was allegedly used as a morgue after the fire. These deaths have spawned the legend that there are many ghosts haunting the hotel. Unexplained screams and groans have been reported, as well as sounds of unexplained footsteps in the halls. Many times the sounds have been said to be heard below the false ceiling.
Rialto Theater 318 E. Congress. The is a ghost of a pianist who was crushed to death by his piano is said to make itself known on occasion.
Sabino Canyon The ghost of an angry mountain lion chases visitors out of Sabino Canyon.
Santa Rita Hotel (Demolished in 2009) 88 E. Broadway. There were several ghosts reported at this location. One ghost was a Texas rancher who came to Tucson in pursuit of this cheating wife. He found his wife and shot her, then he returned to Room 822 in the Santa Rita Hotel and hung himself. This ghost, named "Ferguson"** manipulated lights and sound in the hotel. Many of the ghosts here were children. One ghost was a little boy who, when running around the pool, slipped and drowned. A is a light came on in the tower, at times, though no one ever turned one on. Sometimes the light was golden, sometimes it was green. NOTE: The Santa Rita Hotel building was torn down in August 2009.
Tucson High Magnet School 400 N. Second Ave. A condemned vocational building is haunted by a student who killed himself. Tapping on doors, cold spots and footsteps have been reported.
Tucson Medical Center 5301 E. Grant Road. Ghosts have been reported in the Education Building at TMC. One ghost is said to be a well-respected nurse who died of an unknown disease. The nurse is known as "The Lady in White". “The Lady in White” is friendly; she greets people and opens doors for them. Another ghost is an older man who took care of the horses when this building was a horse stable. The old man was murdered, stabbed to death with a pitchfork, on this site. The ghost of the old man is known as "The Cold Spirit." "The Cold Spirit" seems to enjoy making people uncomfortable.
22nd Street Antique Mall 5302 E. 22nd Street There are several hauntings at this place. Furniture moves on its own. A woman in a long dress floating above the floor has been seen, as well as the ghost of a little girl. The sound of an antique typewriter typing when no one is around has been heard and a rocking chair rocks when no one is near it.
University of Arizona:
- Modern Language Building A ghost, known as the "Woman in White" haunts the Modern Language building. It's speculated that this apparition is the ghost of a young woman who was murdered on this site. She appears as a dark-haired young woman who wears a 1920s-era shawl and a long skirt. She has been seen peeking through the small window in the Romance Languages lab. When the Modern Language Building was built in 1965 workers were said to have discovered human remains. The construction workers did not report the human remains for fear that investigation would delay the project.
- Centennial Hall The spirit of a woman in a long, white dress is said to haunt the now sealed off balcony area and the green room. This ghost has been known to push employees. A man who some think was a patron who died of a heart attack wanders the hall, as well. There is a ghost of a young man dressed in black in the balcony area. This apparition has been seen ducking through the stage entrance.
Velasco House 471-477 S. Stone Ave. The head and shoulders of a Mexican man have been seen floating in the air. This Mexican man has also been seen lounging in the hallway. This ghost is believed to be Carlos Velasco, the original owner of this house.
"An old Pueblo ghost story." Tucson Citizen. October 31, 2003. Page A1.
"Arizona Historical Society is hosting talks that explore myths, legend and mysteries from around the state." Arizona Daily Star. February 2, 2001. Page E1.
"Clara Brown, Downtown's Very Own Ghost." Arizona Daily Star. October 31, 2003. Page. F6.
"Downtown Haunt." Tucson Citizen. October 31, 2003. Page D1.
Eppinga, Jane. Arizona Twilight Tales. Boulder, Colo.: Pruett Pub. c 2000. Pages 53-61, 69, and 106,111. **
"Ghosts of the Santa Rita." Arizona Daily Star. May 20, 2009. Page 1.
"Ghosts of Tucson's Past." Tucson Citizen. Calendar section, October 27, 2005. Page 28.
Haunted Tucson www.prairieghosts.com/tucson.html (website no longer active)
Robson, Ellen. Haunted Arizona: ghosts of the Grand Canyon state, opens a new window. Phoenix, AZ: Golden West Publishers, c2002. Pages 98-99 and 102-103.
"Haunting." Arizona Daily Star. October 30, 2008. Page E1.
"Our old haunts." Tucson Citizen. October 24, 2008. Page B1. Robson, Ellen.
Haunted Arizona. Phoenix, AZ: Golden West Publishers. c2002. Pages 98-106.
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