by Veronica Lemaster
Photos Kimberlee Miller
Halloween is filled with enough ghosts and goblins to satisfy us for another 365 days. For some, they get another taste of unexplainable frightening happenings throughout the year. With Halloween fast approaching, we set out to find the creepiest tales of your favorite places around Boise. We started off with the most obvious haunted place, the Old Penitentiary, and ventured through Boise’s creepy, and not so creepy spots to come up with this list.
Owyhee Plaza Hotel
Cleaning supplies getting replaced, voices, materials disappearing and reappearing the next day are just a few things that Juliet Barnhart began to notice when she was hired to clean offices at the Owyhee after hours. At first, she told herself she was imagining things, but couldn’t ignore loud noises and hearing the voices of a group of people talking when she was the only person in the building. Later on, she made it a point to clean the offices on floors that creeped her out last. One week, she made it to the sixth floor in which she heard a group of people come through the doors. She checked the front doors, then realized the group had made it into one of the offices. As she went into the office, she noticed the television turn itself on. On edge, she turned the volume down and continued working. On a different night, she was on her way to the basement when she felt someone looking at her. She turned around to see a man walking out of the door. They locked eyes as he headed towards the opposite door when she realized the door never open or shut after him. After that, she decided to bring her dog to work, but couldn’t help but notice the dog’s reactions to the place. Now she doesn’t work evenings anymore, but says creepy things still happen in the afternoon, like elevators coming up with nobody in them.
Executive Director Annie Gavica has heard talk about a former employee who believed the Basque house at the Basque Museum was haunted. The employee, who worked there several years ago, would hear a ghost talking upstairs and downstairs, walking across the doorway and being loud and annoying. Gavica believes no one has passed away in the Basque house but admitted that it’s creepy to go in around evening. While she hasn’t experienced anything first-hand at the Basque house, she led us to a current volunteer who states that she saw something that wasn’t a real person. She was on a tour through the Basque house when her and another person on the tour were standing upstairs. Everyone else was downstairs, but as they stood sideways to see down the hall, they noticed someone was with them. They both saw something that they thought was another person go into one of the bedrooms, but thought it was someone who had fallen behind on the tour. As they turned to see, they noticed there was no one there. Don’t be alarmed though, it is said that the ghost is friendly and doesn’t bother many people that visit the house.
According to the Old Penitentiary, there was an inmate by the name of Kenneth Hastings that was serving a life sentence for murder in the 1st degree. He was involved in a robbery that took place in Boise’s Hollywood Market that resulted in the murder. Hastings tried to escape after being incarcerated. His last attempt, September 1954, ended with him admitting to the Warden that he was being haunted. The hauntings were coming from a specter of a former partner-in-crime. This led him to admit that he killed his partner-in-crime in an argument and buried him in grave next to Atomic City. Eventually, the ghost of his former partner returned to Hastings to stare at him from the foot of his bed each night. The Warden believed Hastings, but still barraged him with a
series of tests including giving him a polygraph and truth serum. Hastings passed both tested as his story remained the same. As investigators searched for the body of his former partner where Hastings buried him, Hastings stated that the hauntings have stopped. The investigators weren’t able to find the body of his partner. Hastings disposition improved, and he was paroled to take care of his elderly mother in 1963. He died in 1965 of acute alcoholism. Three years later, the skeletal remains of his former partner were found in Atomic City.
Fort Boise Cemetery- Cottonwood Cemetery
Fort Boise Military Cemetery, now known as the Cottonwood Cemetery, sits in the Boise Foothills. It was originally located half a mile away from the spot, before having to be relocated due to a flash flood that caused major damage and erosion to the graves. About 166 graves were relocated, but as of today, about 247 people lay to rest in the site. In 1947, the City of Boise made the cemetery into a historic site to preserve the natural state, which is why the cemetery is said to be abandoned. Many people believe this cemetery is haunted due to several reports of apparitions of children, women, and soldiers. The large number of unmarked grave stones also fuel reports of hauntings, according to the Visions Paranormal Society Blog. The founder of the blog visited the Cottonwood Cemetery where they heard a young man saying the name “James,” later replying that he was from “Tennessee.” It is said that when you visit the site, you will have the uneasy feeling that you’re being watched and followed. You may also see children running and hear disembodied voices.