A seance to contact the spirit of a doll, Eliza Rose, is a tradition at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center’s horror night events. During this seance, the North Orange Paranormal Society was able to have a spirit ring a bell and write the name of an audience member’s late father. (Photo by Syd Rosas)
A seance to contact the spirit of a doll, Eliza Rose, is a tradition at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center’s horror night events. During this seance, the North Orange Paranormal Society was able to have a spirit ring a bell and write the name of an audience member’s late father.

Photo by Syd Rosas

There’s something here in Fullerton

November 13, 2022

Sophomore reporter Osvaldo Muñoz has been investigating paranormal activity in Fullerton for over a month. A lover of the supernatural, Muñoz has searched for answers to questions about his own experiences. He, along with fellow journalists like senior Syd Rosas, have come face to face with the unliving throughout this time. Here are their stories.

Fullerton: A city of ghosts

My father Antonio Muñoz and my uncle Marcelino Muñoz were both the managers of Café Hidalgo for about 8 years and are connected to the Villa Del Sol also known as the California Hotel and both near Harbor and Wilshire in Fullerton. Café Hidalgo is about a 10 minute walk from Fullerton Union High School. The Villa Del Sol consists of a courtyard, a hotel, and eateries nearby.

The Villa Del Sol, a historical landmark, can be a cozy place to stay overnight, but may hide a dark secret behind its gates. (Photo courtesy of Villa Del Sol website)

When I was 8 years old, I was helping my dad at the restaurant around 10:30 at night. My older brother told me to go into the courtyard to get extra chairs. When I reached the fountain area, I noticed a figure near the Somi Somi ice cream parlor. I sensed that it was male. I couldn’t clearly see the features of the candlelit courtyard, but every time I moved he was watching me; I knew he was stalking someone. A few years later, as my cousin Esmeralda Muñoz and I entered the Villa Del Sol, she noticed a figure as well, but all I heard was a whisper: “Hello.”

These two encounters started my life-long fascination with the supernatural. As it turns out, many locations near Fullerton High School are known for ghost sightings and other unexplained events. To collect anecdotes, Tribe Tribune photo co-editor Addam Sapien went on a ghost tour sponsored by the Fullerton Museum Center. Photo co-editor Syd Rosas and I also went on a tour at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center. I interviewed officials at the Muck and FMC to learn more details. Below is just a sampling of the unexplained. Although the Muck and FMC are done with their haunted tours until next year, anyone interested in taking the haunted tour can still get tickets through the HauntedOC for a Nov. 26 tour.

The Villa Del Sol was closed to the public after multiple murders occurred inside and in front of the hotel. California Hotel (Photo by Osvaldo Muñoz)

The Auditorium (previously known as Plummer)

The FUHS Auditorium, built in 1930, has a chilling story.

There are reports that four spirits lurk in the auditorium. One of the most well-known spirits is “the girl in the red dress.” Only ever seen out of the corner of spectators’ eyes, donning a red dress, she is described to be floating off the ground. 

FUHS theater teacher Michael Despars reports seeing the girl himself multiple times.

“I was upstairs, and one of my students said, ‘There’s a girl in a red dress in the corner!’ but there was no one.”

A ghost woman is also rumored to haunt the balcony corridor of the Auditorium. Though she allows any fellow women to pass, she will give anyone else trouble for disrupting her.

Jenise Kraus, a Fullerton Museum employee, recalls stories her brother, a former FUHS student, would share about another spirit he frequently encountered. 

“My brother would tell me about the lights flickering, popping, even running in the auditorium when he was alone,” Kraus said. This spirit was given the name “the electrician’s daughter,” as the spirit seemed to tamper with electricity.

Victoria Gross, member of the North Orange Paranormal Society (NOPS), reported an experience she had while ghost hunting in the Auditorium. 

The team used an REM pod, a tool that detects changes in the magnetic field around physical objects, indicating paranormal activity. 

Gross’s REM pod went off, detecting a change. When investigating what could have triggered it, she saw a hand reaching over the side of the balcony. It disappeared seconds later.

The Fullerton Auditorium. Fullerton HS Auditorium (Photo by Syd Rosas)

Fullerton Museum Center

The Fullerton Museum Center is known for hosting lively displays and galleries, honoring different artists. One of their more popular events, however, is their annual ghost tour.

 Throughout the month of October, tours around Fullerton hit the most unique and haunted places, detailing the chilling tales of our town’s history. These tours started in the late 90’s, hosted by museum educator Aimee Aul. As a historian of sorts, Aul has researched the history of landmarks around town and tells their stories.

The Fullerton Museum Center showcases diverse exhibitions for history of science, art, and human life. The Fullerton Museum Center also has mini-concerts, special events, and even farmers markets. There’s also a playground in front of the FMC for the children to play in. (Photo by Osvaldo Muñoz)

The FMC’s tours take those brave enough to join to haunted locations and tell each place’s story. Members’ tickets cost $22 and non-members cost $25. The event staff’s sense of humor and kind disposition ensures that attendees have a positive experience despite the grim content. Visitors explore some of the most ghostly places in Fullerton after hours, including Villa Del Sol, their very own gift shop, the FOX Theater, and FUHS Auditorium.

FMC has ghosts of their very own, including one who plays tricks on the staff and unlucky visitors. Another spirit lurks around a staircase, knocking down objects and throwing items across the room. The staircase has been reported to have a smell of blood that cannot be masked.

The staircase going down into the basement has a lingering smell of blood which employees can’t get rid. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

Muckenthaler Cultural Center

The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, built in 1924 by Walter and Adella Muckenthaler, was a mansion of 18 rooms. In 1965, the Muckenthaler was sold to Fullerton; nowadays, it stands as the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, hosting summer camps, art classes and performances.

During the month of October, the Muckenthaler Cultural Center holds horror nights, where they provide a presentation by the North Orange County Paranormal Society, sharing their findings while on ghost tours as well as a live presentation through the use of a Ouija board. Tarot card readings are also offered to the public. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

Muckenthaler After Dark: Beyond the Black Veil was an event hosted by both NOPS and Adam England. The event contained tarot card readings, findings by the NOPS, stories of the Muckenthaler ghost, a séance and more. Tickets are $30 for non-members, $20 for students and seniors, and $15 for members. This is an inside event full of decorations; event staff are dressed in Victorian garments.

A ghost named Sadie, former housekeeper of the Muck, now haunts the mansion. Chief program officer, Adam England, has had many encounters with Sadie. “When I recently ran into Sadie, she threw a jar of pens and some paper on the floor,” England said. 

One of the most popular, more active spirits in the Cultural Center possesses a porcelain doll named Eliza Rose. The tale of Eliza’s death is told on tours, and visitors contact her through a spirit box.

I went beyond the black veil

When my classmate Ozzy asked if I wanted to join him for a ghost tour at the Muckenthaler Culture Center, I immediately got flashbacks. Thoughts of every horror movie that scarred me for life, every jumpscare that made me scream, every haunted house I sat out of flew through my mind. 

Of course, I said yes.

My designated role for this spooky event was photographer. Score! A perfect excuse to hide behind my camera and stand in the back, away from the scare. 

When we arrived, we were an hour early. Still, the sun was setting, and there was a flashing light outside that immediately made Ozzy and I wary of what was ahead of us.

The Muckenthaler After Dark: Beyond the Black Veil was a sold out event. Attendees watched a presentation on the locations N.O.P.S investigated. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

We entered to get our wristbands and found ourselves surrounded by people dressed elegantly. Black gowns, veils, and top hats- I realized we also happened to be the youngest in the room. Not only were we terrified, but now we stuck out like a sore thumb in our jeans and graphic tees.

We snapped pictures of the building while we waited for the event to start. But, soon enough, the lights dimmed.

A presentation was brought onscreen by the North Orange Paranormal Society. Video after video played, society members in the dark, some creepy thing happening, and then an explanation of it.

Some of the videos made me uneasy. A knife drops on the ground, and the camera picks up a child, calling “No!” in a basement. A few jumpscares had me out of my seat for a moment. 

I wanted a chance to further explore the building without too much commotion, so I slipped out of the presentation room to explore. I was all on my own, and a bit frightened as well, so I hid behind my camera and clicked a few more shots.

There was talk of a tarot card reader, and I was interested in the free readings she was offering. I waited in line, flipping through some pictures I got, hoping I managed to get a shot of something spooky. I would have freaked, but it would have been pretty cool to get a ghost picture.

Tarot card readings are a practice in which a question about the past, present or future is posed, and then, using the cards drawn, an answer is interpreted. Terri Kennedy, the owner of the shop Ipso Facto, has been doing tarot readings for 33 years. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

When it was my turn to get my reading, I was intrigued. Right away, she began talking about my energy and what it meant. She told me the cards said I was being gossipped about behind my back and that I was the “therapist friend.” The experience was both enlightening and somewhat disturbing; how was she able to get such a clear understanding of my life without ever knowing me before that moment?.

Some things she said were very interesting, however. She mentioned that I would have a successful career in the arts, and that I would manage to see through some sort of facade and realize something in my life was toxic. She said that once I dropped it, I would begin to see benefits of leaving it behind.

I walked out of that room, now somewhat heedful of what was to come in my future, but satisfied. 

So far, nothing too creepy or out of the ordinary happened. I was slightly disappointed, but also relieved. I wasn’t sure if I wanted something big to happen for the content it would surely provide, or if I was content disproving any suspicions I had about paranormal activity. 

Then my camera got possessed.

Seriously. My fully charged, working-perfectly-all-night camera, stopped working. At first, I assumed I was careless and grabbed the wrong battery pack. But when I replaced it with a battery I was certain I had charged and it still refused to reawaken, I began to wonder.

It didn’t soothe my anxieties that every staff member assured me that the resident ghost of the building must be haunting my camera. Lovely. Not only could I not get the photos I needed, but now a ghost was just hanging out in my camera and, knowing my luck, I would probably get possessed next.

I resorted to taking pictures on my phone, cursing the ghost for causing me such a minor inconvenience. I mean, did I really have to get possessed then? Not 30 minutes later when I wrapped up my photo-taking for the evening?

I figured this was a sign to return to the presentation room and to try and enjoy the rest of my evening. I was all alone now- my partner called it an early night and left. I had 2 hours of this event left, just me and my possessed camera.

Clearly, nothing could go wrong.

When I returned to the presentation room and I saw a group of people holding hands over a ouija board, I retracted my previous statement. I almost backtracked and left right then and there. I would have braved the 90 minute walk home had a swarm of people not entered behind me, effectively pushing me forward into the room.

Did I want to book it out of there as fast as physically possible? Yes.

But did I want to look like a wimp in front of every single person in this room?

Silently cursing my willingness to try and branch out, I sat in the front row.

I witnessed a seance, dedicated to communicating with a spirit named Eliza Rose that was rumored to linger in an old porcelain doll. 

At first, I assumed they would just use the ouija board, but obviously, it wouldn’t dare to be that simple.

They began pulling out what was labeled as “professional ghost hunting equipment.” While setting down items completely foreign to me, demonstrators informed us that these tools would help us all witness the presence of a paranormal spirit.

Absolutely splendid. I wasn’t terrified at all.

The doll inside the case was owned by a girl named Eliza Rose, and is rumored to contain her spirit. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

What looked like a cult summoning began; all of the NOPS people started holding hands and chanting. They welcomed the spirit of this doll into the space and invited her to answer by ringing a bell.

I swore to the person sitting next to me that if the bell rung at all, I would exit immediately.

Yet, just my luck, I was interrupted by the unmistakable dinging of a bell.

I wish I was kidding. I wish I was able to follow that up with, “It was all just a prank” but no. I might lie and say I know it was fake, if it weren’t for the fear of ending up like my camera did- dead.

The seance commenced. Writing that wasn’t there previously showed up on a chalkboard. The planchette- the little teardrop shaped thingy- moved across the ouija board. Whatever spirit happened to linger in the room guessed the name of an audience members late father.

A lot more definitely happened, and there was a lot more details I’m sure I could share, but I spent a lot of the night hiding behind my hands, dead camera in my lap, relying purely on my other senses to tell me what was going on, counting the minutes until I could leave.

After it all ended, everyone clapped like they hadn’t witnessed the most terrifying thing to ever happen before their eyes. They filtered out. I lingered, still struggling to process the most horrific night I ever did witness. 

In turn, I got to help clean up after the event, collecting the fold up chairs and storing them away. This meant one-on-one with my favorite creepy doll. Lovely.

To sum up the rest of my night, the camera got un-possessed. I didn’t get any photos of ghosts or lingering spirits. I didn’t get possessed. All was well. 

Will I ever volunteer for another ghost tour again, if the opportunity arises? Definitely. Even though it took me a few days for the smallest of noises to stop making me jump, I had fun.

Case in point, if you ever see a porcelain doll by the name of Eliza Rose, just run. Trust me.

Photo-Editor Syd Rosas had a tarot card reading at the Muckenthaler After Dark event. (Photo by Syd Rosas)

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