Happy Halloween: The City Of Claremont’s Haunted History

Around the world, there has always been a fear of the paranormal and their possible existence. In fact, some locations in Claremont offer possible validation for the existence of the supernatural.

The Mabel Shaw Bridges Auditorium is popular among both the living and the dead, as evidenced by a spirit the staff call “Walter.” The story goes that a journeyman by the name of Walter was working on, as he called it, “thee finest thee-ate-toor” in all of California. He was so devoted to his building that he was the first to arrive and the last to leave. One particularly hot day, Walter was helping to brace rafters onto the roofline, when he got overwhelmed by the intense heat. He then lost his footing and fell to his death. His dedication to said “thee-ate-toor” would follow into death, as the production manager, Kurt Beardsley, would learn. After finishing some paperwork, Beardsley checked the auditorium, which had not been used for that 1990s summer break. All was dark, except for a few dim lights. Suddenly, some overhead lights came on at full power. Beardsley called over Dennis, a staff member, to investigate the possible energy leak. The center lights dimmed and turned off while the left stage lights came on at full power. Upon investigation of the light board, not a single light was patched in, meaning there was no way for the lights to be on. Many visitors, including one dancer from a Filipino dance company, and an actress with the Children’s Theater Experience have had encounters with Walter as well. The dancer has even asked about “a ghost in the basement,” to which Mr. Beardsley responded, “Umm. Yes, that’s Walter.” But the Bridges Theater is not the only place that has spectral visitors.

Sumner Hall, the oldest building in Claremont, has been rumored to have a spirit by the name of Gwendolyn residing within. The hall used to be Hotel Claremont, which was built by the Santa Fe Railroad to accommodate settlers in Claremont. Gwendolyn and Paul Rose were two of such settlers. Rumors swirled that Paul was seeing another woman. Soon, Gwendolyn died in the basement of a broken heart, or so the story goes. A Sumner Hall housekeeper, Ireno DeLeon, has seen her; he describes Gwendolyn as wearing a long, flowing white gown lit by her own glow. DeLeon, when asked by the occasional visitor if there is a ghost in Sumner Hall, responds with “Oh, yeah. She’s down in the basement.”

The phrase “haunted” often brings one particular house to mind: the Seaver house. If that name sounds unfamiliar, perhaps the name Pomona College’s Department of Alumni Affairs rings a bell. The Seaver house was built in 1900 to house Carlton and Estella Seaver as well as their six children. Nila, the youngest child, lived in the house until she reached the age of 80, where she passed away. The Seaver house got willed to Pomona College, where it remains to this day. But Nila may have decided to tag along for the ride as well, based on employee testimonials. Director of Alumni Relations Tresa Osgood has said she once returned from a weekend to find the attic lights on and the door unlatched. Osgood reports, “I’ve never felt spooked,” when referring to Nila and her antics. To this day, Nila lives out her “life” while “assisting” with Alumni Affairs.

There could be even more spectral remnants of the past lurking around Claremont. Possibly even here at CHS or perhaps even skulking around right behind you, dear reader.