Sunday, June 24, 2012

On the Paranormal Prowl in Old Town San Diego

 A Night Stroll With the Dead?
El Campo Santo Cemetery
El Campo Santo Cemetery, a Roman Catholic resting place established in 1849, is located at the end of Old Town, San Diego. One of the most well-known persons buried here is Yankee Jim Robinson who hanged from the gallows that were once located on the spot where the Whaley residence stands today. Although hundreds of people were buried in the cemetery, not all the headstones remain. However, watch your step when exploring because metal markers stick out from the ground where bodies were located. Also, take a closer look along the sidewalk and street in front of the cemetery. In 1889 a streetcar line was built and ran directly through the cemetery. Later in 1942, the road was paved. Unfortunately and probably due to the expense, the bodies were not removed. Instead, the gravestones were discarded and the road was constructed directly over the decaying corpses. The city of San Diego has done their best by locating as many bodies as possible and has placed small markers that simply read, "grave site."  As you walk along the sidewalk and road you will see several (approx. 43) of these unnamed grave markers. Thanks to ground penetrating radar, some information was determined and remembrance plaques are posted to honor those previous disturbed. To see list click on grave site markers
Charlie Courtland, El Campo Santo Cemetery, Old Town San Diego
I visited the cemetery three times during my stay, all in the evening or late at night. For me, nothing extraordinary occurred during this time, but the history and desecration of the graves was interesting. Given that the city has made an attempt to preserve what it can and perhaps, in good faith made efforts to right a terrible wrong, they may have amended ties with some of the unsettled ancestors in this immediate area.
Is that a fire on the roof?
There wasn't that night, at least not one we could see!  
The photo above was taken at approximately 10 pm at night with my camera. As you can see, there is a building behind the graveyard area that has lights on, however, it's the blazing 'fire' on the roof that grabbed my attention during our review of photos. Strangely, this appears only in these few photos which were taken consecutively on this evening. It appears the roof is blazing, but I can testify that this was not seen with the naked eye. I was photographing the crosses and white fencing, having no idea that this would appear on the picture. What is the fire-like light on the roof? I'm not certain, but I do know that much of Old Town (especially, the roofs) caught fire. Many buildings burned and several were ruined or re-constructed. 

So, what did capture my attention? It was the hills looming behind El Campo Santo that turned my head. I believe the land on the hillside will tell an interesting story to those who can and/or are willing to listen. I'd proceed with caution though, I don't think all who remain are pleased with what has been done to the area. This is the ground where the old monastery was built and includes the burial sites for the Indians. Most of this land is now covered by housing developments and has been further disturbed by mudslides. I got the sense that unhappy spirits in that general area don't stay put. They wander in and out and often come down the hillside near the area around the El Campo Santo Cemetery.  I would not be surprised if various paranormal sitings, experiences and disturbances have been reported by multiple hillside home owners. There is a strong presence in that region and a definite feeling of being watched will occur at any time, day or night. I advise to be extra respectful of this area and before exploring further, take the time to learn some background history about the monastery and the Indians that previously inhabited the land.
Cosmopolitan Hotel
Footsteps echo along the porch
Between 1827 and 1829 Juan Lorenzo Bandini constructed and designed this residence for his family. Bandini was known as being a bit of an entertainer who loved to host parties.  An invitation to the Bandini's would certainly provide visitors with a lively night of drink, games and dancing. Many parties were still going on well after the sun came up! After the death of Bandini, the house was taken over by the stage manager, Albert Seeley. With some remodeling and additions, Seeley turned the home into The Cosmopolitan Hotel.  In the spirit of Bandini, Seeley made sure the place provided comfort, style, and entertainment for the guests. In 1888, Seeley sold the hotel. It was then turned into a cannery and eventually left to ruin. Luckily, a descent of Bandini saved the property and restored The Cosmopolitan Hotel.  

This is the room I found most fascinating. Unfortunately, it is blocked off so all you can do is lean through the door and poke your head around. At the time of my visit, the hotel and restaurant were in full operating mode and impossible to thoroughly investigate. However, the archway around the door and the feeling in this particular room were much different than the rest of the hotel. What I sensed during the dining hours was a feeling of joy, happiness and relaxation. In the distance, it was if I could hear the shuffling of cards, old time music playing from an earlier era, laughter and lively conversations. It came in whispers, but was a positive atmosphere, which gave off a light feeling. I would have loved to spend some quiet time in Bandini's card room and perhaps, next visit stay in one of the 10 rooms located upstairs.
This is not the actual house built by Judge James W. Robinson, but rather a replica. The original house was sold to Louis Rose in 1857 and shortly thereafter, the roof caught fire. The place was left in ruins and then eventually torn down. Several other structures were built over the years on the site.  An excavation was preformed in 1987, but nothing was discovered.  The replica was built in the now historical state park of Old Town.  No one is certain who haunts this structure, and it could be any number of previous residents. Reports include:
  • Cloud-like vapor and apparitions who look like people dressed in 18th century clothing. 
  • A Clear apparition of a man dressed in 18th century attire has been seen in the upstairs rooms when the place is closed.
  • Disturbances with electrical such as lights and operating of the elevator.
  • Heavy, loud footsteps upstairs
  • Women's hair being tugged and/or played with.
That's me getting drawn back to the area, just left of this
 restaurant is the Robinson-Rose house 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was not a place I planned to visit but during my walk through of the area, on two separate nights in Old Town, I was inexplicably drawn to this house. There was such a pull, that I got agitated that I couldn't go in after hours. The upstairs held a particular interest and if the doors were unlocked, it would have been the first place I'd have began my investigation. Also, both times while pacing in front of the house a notable cold spot was detected.  On a 70 degree night, this icy chill caused goosebumps and shivers. This being the quiet end of Old Town in the evening hours, it was a little easier to read the grounds.  Without entering, I'd venture to say this place has paranormal activity.  Is it Judge Robinson, Sarah or perhaps a member of the Rose family?  That I can not say, but definitely someone or something is lingering in the upstairs area of this visitor information center.

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