Halloween Hauntings at
While many historic bed and breakfast inns are renowned for their period architecture and antique furnishings, some are also known for lingering old spirits who have stayed long past their check-out times. For a hair-raising Halloween experience, spend a night in one of California’s haunted inns.
1859 Historic National Hotel (Jamestown): After staying in this historic inn, even non-believers have been known to change their convictions about the super-natural. Many guests have shared accounts of doors slamming, lights going on and off, clothing being dumped from suitcases onto the floor, and a woman's sobbing coming from the hallway in the middle of the night. A ghost named Flo is to blame. It’s believed that her fiancé was shot dead by a drunkard who had stumbled through the front doorway of the hotel. Flo found her fiancé lying at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of blood by the opened door. For days she sobbed uncontrollably in her room, and then there was silence. The hotel staff found her dead in her room, wearing her wedding gown, presumably having died of a broken heart. Flo's ghost generally stays upstairs in the hotel, favoring the rooms in the front of the building although she has, on occasion, been seen early in the morning downstairs, floating through the dining room and right through the walls.
Albert Shafsky House B&B Inn (Placerville): Albert Shafsky built his home in 1902, and it appears his ghost has never left. According to the innkeepers, he sometimes locks guests out of their rooms, leaves pennies in strange places and has even been seen standing at the foot of one guest’s bed.
Bissell House (Pasadena): With a well-known reputation as being a haunted building, current and prior owners have stories to tell that will have you looking over your shoulder. The Bissell House has felt its fair share of paranormal activity through the years, including unexplained voices and footsteps on an empty third floor, lights that seemed to have a mind of their own, and a woman wearing a red dress who is believed to be the restless spirit of Anna Bissell McCay.
The Goodman House (Chico): This colonial revival foursquare home was confirmed as having a strong spirit presence by San Francisco Bay area medium and psychic Marge Cuddeback. Before it became a B&B, the house was converted into law offices. Rumors of haunting began soon after the lawyers occupied the building, including one attorney whose desk nameplate was repeatedly thrown on the floor.
Groveland Hotel (Groveland): Book room 15 at the Groveland Hotel near Yosemite and you could have unexpected company. “Lyle,” a gold miner who met his demise in 1927, appears to have taken up permanent residence in the historic hotel. Lyle is finicky about his room and guests have often complained that he moves articles placed on the dresser. Several paranormal investigation teams have come to pursue Lyle and report that he may not be the only permanent guest at the hotel. A gambler and a lonely bride are also said to be persistent visitors. Lyle’s room is the most popular of the Groveland Hotel's 17 stately guest rooms. Book Lyle’s room to conduct your own personal investigation.
The Queen Anne Hotel (San Francisco): Deemed one of America’s most haunted hotels, this historic building was originally built for “ Miss Mary Lake” as a finishing school for girls. An apparition believed to be Miss Mary has been seen so frequently that a popular “San Francisco Ghost Hunt” event begins nightly at the Queen Anne Hotel.
Springville Inn (Springville): The Springville Inn caters to four permanent guests who have roamed the inn—formerly the Wilkinson Hotel—for almost 100 years. The ghosts include a handsome young logger who is believed to have been shot on the streets of Springville and then carried inside the hotel, where he bled to death. He has been sighted around the bar and the grand staircase and has a flirtatious habit of brushing up against women to make his presence known. In the past, he has also been seen walking hand-in-hand with another ghost, who appears to be an eight-year-old girl wearing a turn-of-the-century dress. Another resident ghost appears to be a blonde-haired woman wearing a long dress, who has been seen floating on the balcony surrounding the Penthouse or wandering the second floor hallways in the main building. The fourth ghost, an old man, seems to keep to himself and generally only appears in the main kitchen of the inn or the upstairs service kitchen. He is usually seen staring up or down into the dumbwaiter joining the two kitchens.
MacCallum House Inn (Mendocino): According to town lore, Donald MacCallum – born in 1880 as the only son of Daisy and Alexander MacCallum – has never truly left the second floor. Many guests over the years have testified to strange and unexplained happenings in one of the inn’s rooms. It’s believed that Donald’s spirit still resides in “Room 4” – the bedroom where he slept from the time he was an infant.
For wild mushrooms:
2 lbs. King trumpets
2 lbs. Beech mushrooms
2 lbs. Chanterelles
4 tbs. olive oil
6 ea. thyme sprigs
5 ea. garlic cloves
For braised bacon:
1 lb. bacon slab cut into ¼ x 1½” strips
3 cups chicken stock
For brown butter:
4 tbs balsamic vinegar
6 tbs crème fraiche
Salt to taste
Peel squash and cut in half. Scoop out seeds. Rub with oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375° until soft and easily pierced with a paring knife. Remove from oven and transfer to food processor. Add butter and puree. Season to taste, then cool.
Coat mushrooms with oil. Add garlic and thyme and toss together in a bowl. Transfer to a sheet pan and bake at 375° until roasted. Remove from oven and let cool.
Place bacon and chicken stock in pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until bacon is soft and tender. Remove and let cool.
Brown the butter over medium heat being careful not to burn. When brown, with a nutty flavor, add vinegar to stop the browning. Remove and cool. Incorporate brown butter into crème fraiche and season to taste. Put into a squeeze bottle.
Whisk two eggs. Pre-heat non-stick omelet pan over moderate heat. Add eggs and 2oz of butternut puree, season, and cook. Flip and cook the other side till done but not dry.
In separate pan cook mushrooms and bacon, add a dollop of crème fraiche and season. Plate omelet open faced with mushroom bacon ragout in the center of the omelet. Drizzle brown butter mixture over omelet and ragout. Serve.
Ballard Inn & Restaurant
Makes 4 Servings
For the duck:
For the duck: Score the skin of duck in a crosshatch pattern. Trim excess fat. Rub duck with thyme and garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, preheat oven to 400oF. Sear duck, skin-side-down, in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, until some of the fat is rendered and skin is golden brown. Turn duck and transfer skillet to oven. Roast duck for 8 minutes for medium-rare, or to desired doneness. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with cherry Pinot Noir sauce. For the sauce: Soak cherries and raisins in brandy until plump. Strain; reserve brandy. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots; cook until shallots are softened. Add cherries and raisins. Deglaze pan with reserved brandy. Reduce until nearly dry. Add wine; reduce until nearly dry. Add vinegar; reduce to syrup. Add chicken and beef stocks; reduce until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in butter until melted and combined. Season with salt and pepper.