by Richard Senate
The State of California has two official Haunted Houses, sanctioned by the State Legislature; The Whaley House in Old Town San Diego and the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The Winchester Mansion, built by Spiritualist Sarah Winchester (of the Winchester firearms fortune) is more an attraction than anything else . I spoke with workers there and they have seen the shade of Mrs. Winchester wandering the elaborate pile, so it is haunted.
But, I contend that after years of research the historic 1841 Olivas Adobe in Ventura should be recognized as number three haunted house for our state. Why? Because visitors and staff have repeatedly encounter ghosts at the two-story adobe home of Don Raymundo Olivas.
The wealthy Don is never seen but a number of phantom women are–they are now joined by ghostly children. When the site opened as a historic house museum in 1972 people began to see a phantom woman in a black dress looking out the windows and walking on the balconies of the casa. They called her “The Lady in Black” and it was thought she was the specter of Mrs. Teodora Lopez Olivas, the wife of the builder and the mother of his twenty-one children (Thirteen boys, eight girls).
As the years passed other ghostly women were seen by visitors and staff, a woman with a gray skirt and apron, A young woman in a white wedding dress, as well as the Lady in black who was seen now on the grounds and first floor. Years ago a new apparition was added to the phantom population; that of a little girl in a white nightgown. She was seen by well over one hundred visitors over a period of two years–then she simply stopped showing up. Now a little boy in short pants, jacket, tie and leather shoes has been seen. At least the ghost girl has someone to play with. They have been joined by a ghost dog, a black hound with white forepaws.
Besides seeing the haunts, people have heard their footsteps, as well as voices and singing! One ghost hunting group even recorded the strains of a song being sang by a little girl. The number of events documented indicates that this site is one of the more haunted places in the Golden State and should be recognized by the state assembly as truly a haunted house. People have even photographed apparitions at the site and felt touched by unseen hands. Not everyone who visits sees or hears a ghost but, many do. As the Halloween season approaches us in Ventura its natural to turn to the supernatural and places rumored to be haunted. What are ghosts? No one knows for certain but in the words of Mark Twain: “I don’t believe in ghosts but I am scared of them all the same.”