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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Family Fun: Take a spooky walking tour downtown and in Browne’s Addition

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 26, 2020

Ghost stories are a year-round experience at the Spokane Public Library.

Not only are books and movies about ghosts always on the shelf, but a lot of people also come to the library’s Northwest Room to learn about the ghosts that share their homes, said librarian Vanessa Strange.

They look through the library’s historic records and newspaper clippings to discover who lived – and died – in the house before them.

“It’s kind of fertile ground for people,” she said.

As Strange and other librarians were figuring out ways to help people safely celebrate Halloween, they thought local ghost stories were just the thing. So Strange put together walking tours of downtown and Browne’s Addition with the stories of the ghosts who haunt the old buildings and parks.

“They see all these buildings, but they might not know a lot about them,” she said. “It gives a sense of place, a sense of pride … plus helps bring in some excitement and fun.”

The lists include places like the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox (haunted by a ghost named Otis), Bing Crosby Theater (where a Lewis and Clark High School student plunged to her death in the 1920s) and the Patsy Clark mansion (said to be haunted by multiple ghosts, including Clark’s wife, Mary).

One of Strange’s favorite buildings on the downtown walking tour is the former Smith Funeral Home, now the North Coast Life building at 1124 W. Riverside Ave. The 1912 building is one of the only in Spokane with a Mansard roof – and many people don’t realize it operated as a funeral home into the 1970s. Strange said its history begs the question: Is something like that haunted?

“Some people think it’s creepy,” she said. “But it’s also a place where loved ones were taken care of.”

The library has links to both walking tours and other Halloween ideas on its blog at spokanelibrary.org/blog/.

For people who want to investigate a ghost who lives with them, the Northwest Room is closed until spring 2022 because of construction at the Downtown Library. In the meantime, families can visit spokanelibrary.org/northwest-room/house-history.

And for those who’d rather enjoy ghost stories with a little more distance, the library has lists of books and movies available, including digital options.

“Part of Halloween spooky, scary things is stories, whether it’s books or movies,” Strange said. “And with it getting darker earlier now, it’s fun to cozy up with a story.”

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