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You may have heard stories about some of the most haunted places in America, such as the Lizzie Borden house in Massachusetts, or the Winchester Mystery House in California’s own San Jose.  But did you know within just a short drive (or even walk!) of Cal Lutheran, you can check out some sites with some pretty spooky reputations for yourself? Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the following places have great stories behind them, and are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Mt. Clef Dormitory- California Lutheran University

That’s right, you don’t even have to leave campus to explore a building with one of the most haunted reputations in the area. According to legend, a young boy was killed at the construction site of the dorm when it was being built in the early 1960s. His spirit is said to haunt the 300 wing of the building, and there have been countless stories from residents about his antics since. CLU Magazine reported in 2009 about students seeing a child running up and down the hallways, hearing knocks at the door when no one was there, waking up from a pillow being thrown when everyone was asleep, and, of course, constantly flickering lights. The ghost has even been given a name after all these years: Francisco. Thankfully, all the stories agree on one thing: while the boy certainly likes to pull pranks on residents, he is completely harmless.

Stagecoach Inn- Newbury Park

The Stagecoach Inn, which currently operates as a museum on Conejo Valley history, has been cited multiple times as one of the most haunted places in California. The Stagecoach Inn was built in 1876, and was used as a stopping point when transporting lumber up and down the steep Conejo grade. There are multiple ghost stories associated with the inn, such as a haunted baby cradle in the museum collection and the spirit of a former landlady. Most famously however, is “Pierre,” who according to the Los Angeles Times is the ghost of Pierre Duvon, a man murdered on the property in 1889. Many visitors to the site have cited a “negative energy,” noises from upstairs when no one is there, and even claimed to have seen his apparition.

Conejo Players Theatre- Thousand Oaks

Conejo Players Theatre, located off Moorpark Road, is the oldest theatre in Thousand Oaks and is known for its resident ghost “Albert.” Albert is known as a friendly ghost who likes to move around props and set pieces behind stage. He even has his own Facebook page, which describes the history of this spirit and some ghostly encounters. According to this page, Albert was a young man stabbed to death in the barn which housed Conejo Players until the current building was constructed. Nowadays, Albert is honored with his own seat with an engraved plaque in the theater, which has been reported to be consistently cooler than the surrounding area. Albert has allegedly even been captured on camera, once as a faint face in the background of a 1981 picnic photo, and again more recently as a ghostly form coming down the stairs which was not seen until by the photographer until after the photo was taken (see below). Albert has been written about in the local paper The Acorn and in the 2015 book Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Los Angeles.

Albert the ghost. Used with permission of Conejo Players Theatre

Janss House- Thousand Oaks

The Janss family are considered some of the principle founders of Thousand Oaks. The official Thousand Oaks website states that their company, the Janss Corporation, planned and developed much of the Conejo Valley area. One of the family’s many houses, built in 1931, still stands off Greenmeadow Drive, and is allegedly haunted by one of the family’s former maids. The house has been designated as a historical landmark by the city, and now houses the Art Council.

Sycamore Park- Simi Valley

A pleasant park in Simi Valley wouldn’t seem the mostly likely place for ghosts to spend their time, but there are countless stories from visitors about an inhuman form that haunts the site. According to the Ventura County Star, a “white furry gorilla-like thing running on all fours” and a man sitting on a rock who disappears if you get too close have been spotted. Strange lights on the ground have also been reported. There doesn’t seem to be any back story for the creature known as either the “beast” or the “meat-head” of Sycamore Park, but visitors seem to agree it is not something you want to run into.

Cal State Channel Islands- Camarillo

Did you know that the next closest 4-year university to CLU used to be the site of the Camarillo State Mental Hospital? An article by L.A. Weekly says this hospital was at one point the largest mental hospital in the country until it was shut down in 1997. Like many other mental hospitals of the 20th century, it was known for rampant abuse of patients and it is unclear just how many people died within its walls. When Channel Islands opened in 2002, many renovations had taken place, but residents still reside in the same rooms where patients once slept. However, the campus began to acquire ghost stories even before it opened, with construction workers reporting that equipment would constantly be moved or even go missing when they came back each morning. Current residents tell stories of doors slamming inexplicitly, hearing jangling keys at night, and seeing furniture shaking for no reason.

As you can see, the area around Cal Lutheran is rich in ghost stories and supposedly haunted places. This Halloween, consider checking out some of these haunts for yourself. Maybe you’ll walk away with a new tale of Conejo Valley paranormal activity. Or, if ghosts and ghouls aren’t so much your thing, enjoy the season of free candy and fun costumes. However you choose to celebrate, have a safe and wonderful Halloween.

All photos either public domain and obtained from Pixabay.com or used with permission of owner. 

Ellie Long

Cal Lutheran '20

Ellie is a junior at Cal Lutheran, majoring in Political Science with minors in Creative Writing and Global Studies. She was born and raised in Seattle but loves living in sunny Southern California. Her favorite activities include hiking, running, cooking, and of course, writing. 
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