Every Wednesday, I will post a report of paranormal activity at a location accessible to ghost hunters. These reports will include specific location, historical background information, witness reports, and audio and image evidence that may enable you to experience paranormal activity.
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco 94133-2206
The austere Spanish Revival tower that rises over Chestnut Street and the campus of the San Francisco Art Institute looks like a spooky place. In fact, it is well known for ghostly activity that has frightened students, custodians, and workers who renovated the tower. Most of the paranormal activity encountered at this place has been attributed to the spirits of people whose bodies remain buried under the campus of this prestigious art school.
From 1848 to 1853, the patch of ground on which the campus sits was used as a cemetery. Fewer than 100 graves were located there but as the city grew, the graveyard became an impediment. In the 1870s, the graves were removed to Yerba Buena Cemetery that once occupied ground now covered by the Main Public Library of San Francisco. No records of the grave removal process were kept and this has led to speculation that many graves were left behind. Grave markers made of wood may have been so badly worn by the climate, washed away by winter rains, or gathered for fire wood by careless neighbors, leaving many graves unnoticed by workers assigned to the removal project. Consequently, many ghost hunters and historians believe bodies remain in unidentified graves under the art institute.
Following the 1906 earthquake, the ground at 800 Chestnut Street was used as a temporary cemetery to accommodate bodies of the victims of the great fire that followed the trembler. It is not known when those bodies were removed but records show that tons of rubble were dumped at this location in the early days of rebuilding the city. By 1926, much of this history was forgotten as the new San Francisco Art Institute opened with a landmark tower.
The first reports of ghostly activity at the school appeared in 1946. A student working as a night watchman used the tower as living quarters. He noted disembodied footsteps on the stairs, doors that opened and closed without explanation, and the sound of heavy breathing. Over the next 50 years these sounds were encountered by many who visited the tower. In 1968, renovation of the tower proved especially difficult because several workmen quit after frightening experiences. It has been reported that some of those encounters resulting in serious injuries as objects fell on the workers.
Several psychics have spent the night in the tower and reported visions of a derelict graveyard and the corpses buried beneath the school. In 1998, citing concerns for seismic safety, the tower was closed. Many believe the tower was closed because paranormal activity had become frequent and intense.
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If you have a ghost story to share, send it to Jeff Dwyer at Ghosthunter@jeffdwyer.com
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