7 La Jolla Ghost Stories: A Chilling Compilation

Halloween is quickly approaching, and to get in the mood we’ve dug up a list of some eerie local legends. We were shocked to discover how many unexplained (and rather mysterious) phenomena involve some of our most beloved La Jolla institutions – it seems like La Jolla is made up of more than just pretty beaches and good food. Get in the Halloween spirit and read up on a little local folklore…here are the 7 spookiest La Jolla ghost stories we’ve uncovered.

la jolla ghost stories

The Grande Colonial

Known as one of the most haunted places in La Jolla, this iconic institution has had more than its share of unexplained events. A few legends circulate this local hotspot; in particular, a private room with a secluded entry that has long been a haven for actors or people who value their solitude. Several members of the staff have reported receiving phone calls from the room when it’s unoccupied. The calls always come late at night, but there is never anyone on the other end – just an uncomfortable silence. A hotel employee is usually sent to check on the room, but they have never found a guest there and the phone has always been off the hook. An employee claims he once saw a figure hiding behind a curtain, but when he went to investigate, the curtain fell flat; the window was closed and locked.

There have also been many reports from guests and staff about rooms above the bakery in the North Annex. Guests and staff claim they hear loud voices, heavy footsteps, people running down the stairs, and doors swinging open and closed – all long after the bakery has closed.

The bakery was once made up of two apartments occupied separately by two young women and two men; apparently the quintuplet was well known for throwing crazy parties that could be heard for miles. The Hotel continues to receive complaints from the guest rooms above the bakery, but the same thing is always true: the bakery has been empty for hours and is locked for the night.

SEE ALSO: Mysteries of Escondido’s Elfin Forest


la jolla ghost stories

Celebrity chef Brian Malarkey and managing partner James Brennan are sure that Herringbone restaurant on Herschel Avenue is haunted. Even the contractors sensed something during construction – one said he saw unexplained shadows during the revamp from empty warehouse to stylish restaurant. The warehouse-turned-restaurant on Herschel Avenue sat vacant for 30-plus years and is said to be haunted by the spirit of its former owner, C. Arnholt Smith, prominent banker, developer, and original Padres owner, AKA “Mister San Diego.” Smith was a close friend, adviser and major contributor to President Richard Nixon, lead developer of the Westgate Hotel – and convicted of embezzling $8.9 million.

Smith died in 1996 in Del Mar at the age of 97. His ex-wife allegedly believed that his spirit continued to live on at the Herschel property, which was an Oldsmobile dealership as well as a wine business once upon a time until it sat vacant through the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. Rumors stipulate that the property sat vacant because his ex-wife refused to sell the property with Smith’s spirit in the building; it wasn’t until 2010 (after her death) that the long-vacant and run-down property became available.

“I haven’t seen him, but we make cocktails for him,” Chef Malarkey is quoted as saying. “We do believe he is here.”

Windan’sea Beach

la jolla ghost storiesAs first reported in The La Jolla Light years ago, the presence of legendary surfers Chris O’Rourke and Bob Simmons can still be felt today at Windansea Beach. Simmons, otherwise known as the “mad scientist,” was an extraordinary engineer who used his skills to redesign the surfboard – quickly becoming the “father of the modern surfboard.” At the age of 35, after years traveling the world doing what he loved the most, Simmons caught his last wave at WindanSea. His board was located that day, but his body wasn’t found until three days later. Present-day surfers have named Simmons’ Reef at Windansea after the legend; some say that on warm evenings after sunset, Simmons can be seen paddling out to his reef.

To many, Chris O’Rourke was one of the best surfers in California. A hero to the WindanSea surfers, O’Rourke’s diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 20 devastated the community. After chemotherapy and eight surgeries, O’Rourke lost his battle with the disease, but not with the waves. His ashes were scattered over WindanSea Beach, making him a permanent part of the surf hot spot. Many local surfers claim he has never left, but that his encouraging and cheerful words can still be heard as he cheers on surfers to catch the most challenging waves.

Brockton Villa

la jolla ghost stories

Megan Heine, owner of the Brockton Villa Restaurant on Coast Boulevard, has reported seeing items disappear and reappear again later in strange places. Heine attributes this to the lingering spirit of Dr. Joseph Rhodes, a local physician who purchased the oceanfront site as his weekend retreat for $165. He died tragically in a boating accident in 1896, leading many to believe his spirit persists because of unfinished business.

Not only do the disappearing acts lead Heine to suspect paranormal activity, but the presence felt on particular nights has her nearly convinced. “Late at night,” she said, “I will say, the ocean air and the moon’s glow can create some interesting shadows. Who knows?”

Muirlands Middle School

la jolla ghost stories

The school was originally built in the early 1950s. Some say the ghost of girl who died from a head injury during a P.E. class in the 60’s still roams the halls; they hear strange voices when no one is there and the lights in the auditorium sometimes turn on and off by themselves.

The Comedy Store

Employees of La Jolla’s Comedy Store have reported seeing a dark figure, cold spots and witnessed a telephone slide down a table onto the floor on its own.

What do you think, La Jollans? Do you believe any of these La Jolla ghost stories – or experienced something yourself? Let us know in the comments!

[source: www.lajollalight.com/2006/10/26/ghost-stories; patch.com/california/lajolla/herringbone-haunts-a-la-jolla-halloween-tale]
[images: sdnews.com, 2.bp.blogspot.com, sandiegohistory.org, sandiegoville.com, brocktonvilla.com, surfmuseum.org, japanrider.com]

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