A look at the paranormal side of Old Towne Orange, California.
Sheila Fortman-Craun, Mary Kelleher-Jones, and Debbie Mondares
On Saturday October 23, three brave souls from the UCI Law School ventured to the mean streets of Orange (that is right—there is a City of Orange in Orange County). They were looking for “Haunted Orange” and they found it.
Debbie is interested in the paranormal (some of her favorite shows are Paranormal State and Haunted History). Sheila found a card at the Orange International Street Fair—another story in itself—promoting a ghost tour of the City of Orange. We tried to get on the dinner-tour for October 30, but it was sold out. So we went on October 23, which was great because there was also a full moon that night—spooky.
We started the evening at the Orange County Mining Company, a yummy place to eat. We would need our strength for a 90 minute walking tour. After that, we went down Chapman Avenue to Old Orange—close to Chapman University (boo)—and found two ghouls with lanterns and eerie music—aka tour guides at the Orange Chamber of Commerce. Our first paranormal destination.
Many of the buildings in Orange used for businesses now were former residences. The Chamber of Commerce building was a home to a doctor and his wife. She divorced him, and soon after she was taken ill. He was the only doctor in the area and he refused to treat her. Needless to say, she passed on, but apparently not far enough because her ghost is said to haunt the building. Tenants have found items thrown around. The building also housed a mortuary for a period of time—more bodies, more ghost sightings.
Next stop, the Elks Lodge on Chapman Ave located next to an antique store. A ghost of a former Elk is said to inhabit the space—especially the stairs. Some employees have reported an inability to climb the stairs—the ghost is holding them back.
The Orange Circle was the next location. Apparently, quite some time ago, two boys playing in the circle were mowed down by a horse-pulled wagon. When the movie That Thing You Do with Tom Hanks was filmed in the Circle, the production crew reported seeing two boys in vintage clothing playing in the street. When they went to tell them the Circle was off limits during production, they vanished…hmmm.
Down to another antique store with windows that jutted out onto the sidewalk. The first floor used to be a furniture store and the second floor was a mortuary. You needed the furniture maker to build the coffins. If a body was unidentified, it would be propped in the window of the furniture store— a “do you know this person” advertisement.
Rutebegorz Restaurant was the next destination. According to eyewitnesses, an older woman paces the halls and before the restaurant opened, someone messed with all of their soda machines.We were told that thr staff has no problem commenting on their hauntings. It is also supposed to be a great place to get vegetarian food—might want to check it out.
A now closed, old tea house in Orange once belonged to a banker. When it was a tea house, there were tales of children playing in the attic, but none were ever seen. Sometimes, a place might not be haunted, but the items brought in from somewhere else carry a spirit. The proprietress of that tea shop purchased antique toys. Makes you want to think when you are shopping around for used furniture—do not bring the old spirits with you.
Across from Orange Radiator is a building with a false façade. Behind the façade is an old hotel. When we ventured around the building, the hotel structure was still standing. Wahoo (as in Taco) owns the buildings now. During recent renovations, EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) of horses were heard in an area that used to be a stable.
Farther down Chapman, between what is now two antique stores, was an old motorcycle shop. One of the mechanics in the shop was burned to death and clerks in the stores have reported seeing a burning man on occasion. This was a fun, educational, and cheap evening (only $12.00 per ticket). We walked and learned about death photos—where dead people were propped up for one last picture with the family. We ended our evening at an antique store where all of the price tags mysteriously disappeared. Quite sometime later, they were found behind a tall, heavy chest. Our tour guides were fun—one works at Disneyland in guest relations and Ernie, the brains behind “Haunted Orange” was going to go to New Orleans to check out some more paranormal activity. Their advice to us was if you are going to buy something, carry it around with you, if it does not feel right, it might be haunted. There are ghosts out there—if you are willing to walk around and find them. If you want more information, go to http://www.hauntedorange.com.