Ridge Runners Halloween Pub Run
Disclaimer: all of these stories were basically made up by runners.
Tonight we will embark on a run through some of the darkest places in our
neighborhood. We are going to make a handful of stops at places that have been
notoriously reported of superstitious encounters. In some cases, history is retold to bring
to surface some of the dark things that have happened right here in Shoreline. Things
that have been covered up for years to make the general public feel safe in our, in some
cases, haunted spaces.
A few ground rules first:
-All names in these stories have been changed to protect the privacy of all involved.
-Most of the stops are concentrated to the middle of our run so if we spread out a bit we
will wait for the group to reconnect before our story telling.
Follow me to our first stop, our beloved Crest Theater…
Stop 1: Crest Theater
There’s probably not a single Shoreline resident who hasn’t heard of the Crest Theater.
Its vintage red markee and lightbox letter board will catch the eye of any commuter
passing along 5th Ave in an attempt to avoid rush hour on I-5. For those of us born and
raised here, the Crest has been a staple of our childhood.
Originally built in 1949, the Crest has been operating as a neighborhood theater ever
since. While it’s been expanded and upgraded over the years to its current four
screening room theater, it has never lost its charm as a bargain neighborhood local hot
spot to see an eclectic mix of movies as they are on their way off the big screen.
This Landmark Theater is the last of its kind in Seattle. While Seattlites used to enjoy
similar experiences at the Seven Gables theater in U-district or the Guild 45th in
Wallingford both closed abruptly in 2017.
What most may not know, is that when you have a theater of such charm and rich
history, it can also house some very dark secrets.
Mary, a reputable source from the Crest, told me, “strange things happen when the
theater is void of its viewers. Things in the office fall at random, I hear small noises, and
see small movements in my periphery. Sometimes I think it’s just the corner of my
glasses playing tricks with my mind but there’s also a subtle feeling of not being alone.”
A long time beer vendor with spirit premonitions, has noted the presence of “Silver Fox,”
a beautiful woman dressed in all white.
As the last Seattle Landmark Theater, the Crest has also come to accumulate many
things over the years… old seating, music boxes, old projectors, curtains, and film.
Some are thought to house supernatural qualities that may have journeyed from other
Landmark locations to their resting spots in the unoccupied corners of the Crest.
As the theater has expanded and changed over the years, it has gained some strange
spaces, many of which are void of activity. One room in particular was cut from regular
use when the fire department shut an exit in “Theater One”. This original screening
room, once had two exits to the outside, one on either side of the screen. The exit still in
use, leads guests right out this door. The second exit also led here but first took guests
through a small room and into a long hallway behind the screen. Eventually deemed too
dangerous, the hallway was closed off at both ends. The small room is still there,
boarded from one side, and locked at a door from the other. While employees have the
old key that fits in and turns the lock, the door won’t open and no-one has been able to
get in since.
As a spirit, wouldn’t you also choose to occupy a neighborhood vintage theater? Dark
and void spaces, hours of entertainment, the warm smell of buttery popcorn, and
Sources: https://www.landmarktheatres.com/seattle/crest-cinema-center/info, various anonymous.
Stop 2: North City Park
Here is the site of an ambitious project that ended in mysterious tragedy.
In 1910, in Seattle, there was a referendum to create a development plan for the whole City of Seattle, including a grand civic center and a rapid transit rail system, and a park system. However, the plan was defeated by an alliance of fiscal conservatives who opposed such a purportedly grandiose plan on general principles, and populists who argued that the plan would mainly benefit the rich.
Inspired by this effort, in 1909, a group of five settlers in North City bought this plot of land we are standing in. They were from Britain, where were man-made indoor pools for competitive swimming had been around for almost 100 years. Competitive swimming had been in the Olympics for almost two decades.
The five men had an ambitious project to create a community pool for competitive swimming. But, they knew not everyone was into swimming in the Pacific Northwest So they included plans for wood fired hot tubs, redirecting a creek for playing in, and creating a splash pad for kids. They created a dirt path that would be the entrance to the pool, which is where we are standing today. And, they began to campaign for North City residents to agree to pay taxes to pay for the pool and its accessory amenities, in return for being able to use them.
But, they also faced opposition for local fiscal conservatives and populists. Also, other people didn’t want a pool, but they wanted a place to send their senior citizens. Still other wanted exercise and weight rooms, and an indoor jogging area and a horse exercise arena out of the rain. Still others wanted a courtyard for casual community gatherings, and community spaces for classes on whittling, berry preserving, and deer hide tanning. So, the five men added all these things to the plan for the pool, trying to get more people interested in paying taxes for the plan.
But, this only made the local fiscal conservatives and populists more angry.
The discussion began to tear the community apart, with poor hating the rich, leisurely hating the athletic, old hating the young, and even the fiscal conservatives hating the populists, even though they were on the same side of the controversy.
Finally, the community leaders planned a big meeting at the site with the five men.
No one agrees what happened that day, but there was a lot of yelling and threats of violence, and hundreds of people in attendance. There was no agreement that day.
The next day, the five men were found floating face down, dead, in Ronald Bog. They were buried in North City Park without ceremony. The site was never developed for any use and eventually was designated as a park.
But, to this day, if you listen closely, you can hear sounds of splashing in North City Park.
Sources: Wikipedia, https://www.athleticscholarships.net/swimming-history.htm, various anonymous.
Stop 3: 195th Street Pedestrian Bridge
This is the story of Jack Christianson. It’s strange that this story ends on the 195th pedestrian
bridge. It was never supposed to end here. It was supposed to go far beyond this stretch of
concrete and metal. As a rising structural concrete engineer in a promising firm in 1963,
Christianson’s name might have been etched into history books about the Seattle Kingdome,
and much more. That is, had he remained alive.
Jack was born in 1930 in Chicago, just after the Great Depression. His parent’s weathered the
storm by working double jobs, often going late into the night. They passed their Calvanist work
ethic to their only child, Jack. By the year 1962, construction was finalizing on Interstate 5
through western Washington, and Jack Christianson was rising in rank through a small but well
known structural engineering firm in Seattle. The principal engineers had just completed the
monumental ship canal bridge, and tasked Christianson with what felt like, to Jack, a petty
afterthought of a project: a pedestrian bridge. At 195th Street, the bridge was meant to “reunite”
a community that had been violently cut in half by I-5. But perhaps the finest concrete engineering in
the world couldn’t have healed some of the hysterical discontent that clearly had taken over in
the recently wrecked neighborhood.
In retrospect, there were signs of the danger Jack faced as the lead engineer on the highly
visible project. Of course at the time these just occurred as jotted notes in the margins of Jack’s
site survey notebook. In those important margins, right beside tables of measurements and
angles, he scribbled little observances about odd individuals that he seemed to encounter with a
strange regularity… especially on the many late nights Jack would work at the bridge. According
to the occasional page note, there was an silver haired man at the east end of the bridge site, in
a house that looked like it had been raggedly ripped in half by the early interstate construction.
And as Jack surveyed progress on the bridge, the man sat low in a chair, a single red light
exposing his thin face and hollow eyes. Every night when Jack looked up in that direction, those
eyes seem to follow him.
On the west side there was another home that was always visible from the freeway. While the
home itself was intact, Jack was perplexed by what he saw in the yard. A chain link fence,
mangled and twisted. A swingset that seemed heavily dented and which now tilted down the
fresh dirt pile that sloped into the short wall that separated this used-to-be yard from 8 lanes of
whizzing cars. That alone wouldn’t have deserved a note in Jack’s site journal, it was the on the
dangerously exposed swing sat a girl who couldn’t have been older than 8. The date of the note
about the girl was October 30, and the time was at 11:04, a time he’d expected that any 8 year
old should be sweetly asleep. He wrote that he’d seen her before, usually a bit earlier and she
was always looking down at her lap, shoulders slumped. Tonight her head leaned forward and
up, and her eyes were wide meeting his.
Jack Christiansen was never seen after that night.
The chilling note about the girl was in the margin of the last page of Christianson’s site notebook
- which now resided in a plastic bag at the North City station. In another plastic bag were two of
the most disturbing photos you could ever see. One was taken in the overgrown grass of the
house on the East - and it was eight human rib bones arranged in parallel, the same number as
the lanes of traffic that had been created with the addition of interstate 5. In the other photo, a
skull stood at the base of the sunken swing set, propping it ever so slightly more level, ever so
slightly closer to its original position before the slope from the girl’s house was altered forever.
The investigators, however, never found any evidence of the girls existence. The house had
been purchased as a part of the I-5 agreements in 1956. The family had moved just a few doors
down. Their youngest daughter was never questioned by police.
On the east side, a similar case. An older, thin man had originally lived in the home, though it
was also acquired as part of the construction years earlier. There was no record as to where the
man ever resettled.
The bridge project was eventually finished in 1964, and new trees were planted in front of the
homes where Jack Christiansen’s remains were discovered. I asked a handful older neighbors
just recently about Jack Christiansen. They each said the exact same thing: we don’t talk about
that old construction project, smiled, and slowly closed their front doors on me.
Sometimes though, when I’m on this bridge, I feel like I can faintly hear the metal sound of a
swing to the West, and to the East I think I can still see a faint red glow of a porchlight through
the thickest part of the trees. I just hope that by using this bridge no one thinks we’re
responsible for the community getting torn apart.
Because Jack sure wasn’t. But in the end, all we really know, is that he was as violently divided
up as the community on the east and west side of the 195th street pedestrian bridge.
Stop 4: Holyrood Cemetery
In 1971, the funeral director hired his nephew, Jeff, as a grounds keeper at Holyrood.
Jeff struggled finding employment after dropping out of school, getting wrapped up in a
life of crime, and facing several drug related criminal charges. The funeral director
always had a soft spot in his heart for his nephew and wanted to give him a second
chance. For several years Jeff succeeded in his work. He discovered a passion for
maintaining the cemetery grounds to a level of perfection that did not go unnoticed. His
drive towards perfection was seen in the pristine lawns, free of weeds, perfectly
maintained grave sites, and manicured trees and shrubs. This drive towards perfection
became an obsession that got him into serious trouble one chilly and windy fall night.
The following information was gathered from the police report and investigation
that followed a missing persons case. Julie, 34 years old, a runner, a grad student, a
wife, a mom routinely ran a route through the cemetery. On October 30th, 1974 she
was reported missing when she didn’t come home after her nightly run. That night there
was a wind storm that knocked out power to the surrounding neighborhoods. Jeff had
neglected to remove a large dead oak tree on the grounds that morning because he
wasn’t feeling well. He slept in and decided to work later that night. It was 8:30PM
when he was found Julie’s body pinned beneath a large branch of the oak tree that
broke off in a gust of wind as she was running beneath it. A wave of panic washed over
Julie’s eyes were closed. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. Jeff bent
down and shook her shoulder, but she didn’t respond. She was dead. He knew it.
Jeff’s judgement was clouded by his fear of losing his job and this life that he loved.
This was all his fault. If he had taken care of the dead tree that morning, this would not
have happened. This situation had to disappear. He knew what he had to do.
Lifting the body from the ground into the wheel barrow, from the wheel barrow
onto the metal tray in the crematorium was difficult all on his own, but Jeff knew this was
the only option. There could be no evidence of a body. He would have this all taken
care of in a few more hours.
As he pushed the body on the tray into the incinerator and shut the door he felt a sense of relief.
He had to do this. There was no other way.
The incinerator was normally operated by the funeral director and the mortician because it
required special training. Jeff was unfamiliar with the settings. He started the machine
at a slow burn instead of a full incineration. The heat woke Julie as soon as it was
turned on. She had been knocked unconscious by the branch, but was very much alive.
She began to scream. Like a lobster scratching at the edges of a pot of cold water until
the water boils Julie clawed at the walls of the incinerator until her finger tips burned off.
She screamed until her throat and lungs filled with flames. She was dead within
minutes. Jeff seemed to suddenly awaken and realize what he had done. He ran. He
ended up turning himself in after a week because he couldn’t live with the guilt. He is
currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.
On the night of Julie’s death, there were several police reports filed by neighbors
near the cemetery stating that screams were heard nearby. With the wind howling, it
was difficult to tell the direction the screams were coming from. To this day, the police
receive annual reports of screaming heard near the cemetery on particularly windy
Stop 5: Perkins House, which always seems to be for sale
Confession of a former owner:
It was the summer of 2018, and my wife and I had finally saved up enough money to
start looking at houses. It was a tough market for first-time home buyers and even the
most basic starter home was practically at our maximum budget. One morning on my
way to work I noticed an old run-down house on a corner lot that had a "For Sale" sign
out in front of it. It was apparent that it would need some work, but my wife and I were
wanting a fixer upper anyways, and it was priced so affordably that we would have a
good amount of money left to work on the needed renovations.
While I was at work, I did a little research on the property. It seemed that the house had
been bought and sold again and again over the years, nobody had lived in it for more
than a year before they had put it back on the market. We were desperate though, so
without seeking an explanation, we contacted our real estate agent and moved forward
with the purchase.
We slowly moved in from our apartment and got settled in. In the mornings, we noticed
that the parents walking their kids to the bus stop would never look up at the house,
even with all of the moving vans coming and going. In fact, there was a definite
quickening of their pace as they approached the property that lasted until they were a
good distance away. It seemed maybe they knew something that we didn't. Even the
neighbor's cats and dogs wouldn't set foot on our property. It wasn't until we began
renovations however that we really started to notice strange things happening.
We started tearing down some of the walls in the home to modify the layout. This of
course created a lot of dust which was completely normal. What wasn't normal though
were the footprints that we kept finding in the dust. They would sometimes make a trail
that started in the center of the room, only to end in the middle of a wall. We would be
home alone, and see another set of footprints in the room that we had just been working
in. It wasn't always footprints though. Sometimes we would hear furniture scraping
upstairs and come up to find a chair or a table had been drug across the floor, leaving
tracks in the dust.
Both my wife and I are pranksters, so each of us thought that the other was playing
practical jokes on the other, but we were getting scared. I started to hear tapping on the
walls, and a couple of times, I swear I heard laughter while my wife was away getting
some wood from the lumber store.
Both of us were getting more and more irritated with each other, thinking that the other
was doing some really elaborate hoax. At least that's what we thought until one night we
were lying in bed together and we heard a loud scraping noise coming from the other
room. We both were startled awake and looked at each other. I could see the gears
turning in my wife's head, "If we're both in here... what was making the noise out
there..." As quiet as we could, we both slunk out of bed. My wife grabbed the baseball
bat and watched the door while I got our gun out of the safe. We shuffled over to the
door. My wife held three fingers up, and silently counted down. She opened the door
and I stepped through.
In the moonlight by the window, I could see my grandfather's old wooden rocking chair,
still rocking back and forth. And on the floor in the dust, we could see the tracks from
where we normally kept it.
We turned on all the lights and called the police about an intruder, but the police couldn't
find any evidence of one other than the trail in the dust. They also confirmed that all of
the doors and windows had been closed and locked.
We were spooked, and stayed the next couple of nights in a hotel room while we had a
new alarm system installed, and new locks put in on all the doors and windows. When
we returned, everything seemed to be as we had left it. We kept working on the house,
but spent the nights at a friend's house until things started to feel more normal. After
about a week without any more strange occurrences, we decided we felt safe enough to
stay, and spent a sleepless night in the bedroom upstairs.
The following morning, I woke up and my wife was already out of bed. I walked
downstairs to the smell of breakfast cooking. When I got to the kitchen, I heard her
voice calling to me from the basement, "Honey, can you come down here and give me a
hand with this?" I walked over to the stairs leading down to the basement. As reached
out for the door knob, a soft trembling hand clasped over my mouth, muffling my startled
shout. I spun around to see my wife, a terrified expression on her paled face as she
whispered, "Don't go down there, I heard it too."
We left immediately, taking only enough time to turn off the stove. In hindsight, we
should have let the whole place burn down, try to get the insurance money. We hired a
moving company to pack up all of our stuff, and then, we put the house back on the
market. Just like each owner had before us.