The Donaldina Cameron House in San Francisco

The Donaldina Cameron House in San Francisco

This article will be covering the Donaldina Cameron House in San Francisco – a property that used to hand Chinese sex trade workers a second chance at life…until a tragic fire broke out in it’s basement…


The Fire

The great San Francisco Earthquake took hold of the North Coast of California in April 1906, and managed to claim over 3000 lives.

The earthquake was bad enough…but the fires that followed the event managed to claim the homes and livelihoods of tens of thousands of victims.

During these tragic events, a Presbyterian Home that had been the center for helping to free Chinese sex workers and servants, caught fire. The Superintendent of the home, Donaldina Cameron, went back into the flaming building to protect the important papers which gave her guardianship over these unfortunate sex workers.

The Fire

Unfortunately what happened next is a little mixed up between fact and fiction – a bit of an urban legend.

It is near enough impossible to separate the facts from the legend…so make your own mind up…


The Safe Haven

The building at 920 Sacramento Street was built as a safe haven for the unfortunate women it housed. When they finally managed to escape their trade, more often than not, their heartless employers would try and track them down, and use them once again.

As a result, the building was constructed with a system of secret sections and passageways in place, with a basement that had a hidden entrance.

The ex-sex workers found sanctuary in these hidden locations – they could finally live some sort of life away from the threat of their past employers hunting them down.

When the fire struck the sanctuary, the women who were in these secret underground sections were completely trapped, and ended up suffocating to death, as the smoke filled each room.

Locals believe that the paranormal activity at the location began a matter of days after the fire claimed the lives of these women – their souls were trapped in the underground system.

At first, disembodied voices were heard coming from the building…and before long, passers by began to notice strange moving lights traveling past the windows.

920 Sacramento Street

These paranormal happenings seemed to get worse, with each day that passed, and eventually the basement was sealed with a special Chinese charm.

The building eventually changed it’s name to the Donaldina Cameron House in 1942 – to honor the woman who once ran the setup and looked after the Chinese women.

Apparently (according to the legend), a Reverend Wichman moved into the property in 1947 and went about unsealing the haunted basement area. Locals then believe that he used the area to assault and abuse young boys in his care.

Legend suggests that the souls of these young men joined the souls of the dead Chinese sex slaves, and they both now haunt the building.

The Donaldina Cameron House is now thought to be one of the most haunted properties in San Francisco, but it’s impossible to find out how much of it’s past is actually based on truth.

What do you think?

Do you believe the legend that surrounds the Donaldina Cameron House in San Francisco?

Please leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

Is The Queen Anne Hotel Haunted?

Is The Queen Anne Hotel Haunted?

The upscale Bed and Breakfast that seems to be a popular San Francisco spot for weddings has passed through many hands oven the years.

But did the previous occupants really leave the pink-colored crown jewel of Victorian architecture?

Is the Queen Anne Hotel haunted?

The Queen Anne Hotel History

The elegant building was constructed by Senator James G. Fair in 1889. Fair had made a lot of money through his silver mines in the Comstock Lode, located in Nevada.

He decided to put some of this money into a elegant boarding/finishing school in his hometown of San Francisco.

The school became known as the Mary Lake School For Girls and it first opened it’s doors to the public in 1890.

The main reasoning behind this boarding school was not only a monetary one – he also built it so his daughters Virginia and Tessie would have a good education when they arrived at San Francisco.

Over the years Fair had managed to create a strained relationship with his daughters due to his success and the work he carried out – he wanted to change this and become much closer to them.

Senator James G. Fair was known as a bit of a ladies man, and his favorite conquest was a lady named Mary Lake.

He employed her as Head Mistress of the school and she took responsibility for the women from upper-class society that attended the school.

The Queen Anne Hotel History

She absolutely loved the job and loved her close relationship with the young ladies there – she was absolutely broken when the school closed down in 1896.

Feeling she had nothing left for her in the area, Mary disappeared from the city one night and was never seen or heard of again.

Due to financial difficulties, the building was sold on a few years before the destructive earthquake of 1906. Somehow it managed to avoid any sort of damage from this tragedy.

It went through numerous owners over the next several decades before it was finally converted into The Queen Anne B & B Hotel in 1980.

But this much-needed renovation work seems to have disturbed a past occupant…

The Haunted Queen Anne Hotel

When old buildings are renovated, the spirits get upset – often the spirits who reside there make their presence known to the living.

However, the main spirit who occupies this hotel seems to be overjoyed that the building has so many occupants again.

Many psychics who have visited the hotel claim to have come face to face with Mary Lake. They reassure the owners that the spirit is not in any way hostile, but relieved to have a post there once again!

Mary Lake dedicates herself to making sure that her guests are comfortable and frequently unpacks suitcases and even hangs up the clothing contained inside.

Objects that guests drop are consistently returned to their starting place before anyone has a chance to bend down and pick them up.

Many witnesses have woken in the dead of night to feel their bed-covers tightening around their neck. They claim this is not a hostile move, it feels more like they are being gently tucked in against the cold.

Most of the visual manifestations of Mary have taken place in room 410 on the fourth floor of the building.

This room apparently used to be her Head Mistress Office but now it is converted into a very high-end suite within the hotel.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject we have covered here today, please leave them in the comment section below.

The Alcatraz Ghosts

The Alcatraz Ghosts

Alcatraz, nicknamed the “Rock”, was the only place tough enough to contain the country’s most hardened, most notorious criminals.

Since its inception as a federal prison in 1934 until its closure in 1963, more than 1,000 hard-core criminals, convicts, thieves, deserters, rapists, repeated escapees from the Army, escape artists and other malcontents of society had called the foggy, damp, misty prison home.

It was a place of total punishment and minimum privilege with grim living conditions. Survivors left the prison at the cost of their sanity… and some believe their souls.

Could this be the most reasonable explanation behind the Alcatraz ghosts saga?


The Beginning

A military fort was erected on Alcatraz island, off San Francisco, and in 1859, Alcatraz saw its first detainees, a contingent of court-martialed, military convicts.

In 1886, the natural isolation created by the surrounding waters saw Alcatraz receive Confederate prisoners.

Until the end of the Civil War, the number of prisoners here ranged between 15 and 50, a population that rose steadily thanks to the Spanish-American war.

View of Alcatraz Island in 1895
View of Alcatraz Island in 1895

They comprised of soldiers, Confederate privateers, and southern sympathizers. Confinement was in the dark basement of the guardhouse that boasted dismal living conditions.

The men slept side-by-side, head to toe, lying on the stone floor of the basement with no running water, no heat and no latrines.

Overcrowding facilitated rampant spread of infestation and disease. Punishment meant being fed on water and bread and being bound by heavy, lengthy chains joined to iron balls.


Minimum-Privilege Punishment

Anyone can argue that its status as a minimum-privilege punishment facility shouldn’t have offered less, but the prisoners were still humans with human rights.

Many believe that ghosts often return to the places where they suffered traumatic experiences at one point in their lives to haunt them, thus, much of the paranormal activity on Alcatraz happens around areas connected with the facility’s worst tragedies.

Minimum-Privilege Punishment in Alcatraz

Alcatraz was the home of Death. Prisoners died mercilessly at the hands of guards or their fellow inmates. The first reported deaths were those of Jacob Unger and Daniel Pewter in 1857 under a landslide while excavating between the guard-house and the wharf.

There were deadly showdowns between fellow prisoners, guard beatings, and failed escapes off the island. Unexplained chilling occurrences in the isolation block, aka The Hole have been reported.


The Hole

Located on the bottom floor of the prison, in Cell Block D, is where they kept inmates who broke the more serious of rules at Alcatraz.

They would be stripped naked and held in a cold cell with only a sink, toilet, and a small light in it. Mattresses were only for the night and they were promptly removed in the morning to guarantee constant discomfort and punishment.

The Hole in Alcatraz

Guards reported sightings of an 1800’s-esque figure in the building. The apparition was on several occasions seen and prisoners claimed attack by a glowing-eyed man.

Since The Hole was an isolation chamber , most guards thought the on-going screams claiming attack were mental trips.

On one particular evening, one inmate screamed throughout the night that he was being attacked by the man with glowing eyes but the guards ignored him.

The door to his cell was opened in the morning and the inmate was found dead, a ghastly scowl marred his face and hand prints were visible around his throat. A later exam showed that these were not self-inflicted marks.

This victim became an Alcatraz ghost himself as he was reportedly , though dead, spotted in a line-up with other inmates but instantly disappeared leaving everyone speechless.


Odd Events

Sources say many guards who served between the 1946 and 1963 time period were witness to odd events on Alcatraz. This could be ghosts seeking retribution by instilling fear in the most hardened guards.

From the grounds of the prison to the caves under the buildings, people talked of strange wailing and groaning, unexplainable slamming sounds, cell doors mysteriously closing, unearthly screams, intense feelings of being watched, inexplicable smells, icy spots and spectral apparitions.

Even island residents claimed to see the ghostly-looking prisoners and soldiers on numerous occasions. Upon hearing phantom gunshots, even the most hardened prison guards cringed with fear, thinking that those were the sounds of illegally-obtained weapons belonging to prisoners.

Stories of smoke without fire have also been reported from the laundry room.

Naysayers can quickly trash the numerous ghost-story accounts, but any tourist of the now defunct Alcatraz prison will tell you for free that the Alcatraz ghosts are real and have a reason to seek revenge.