Glimpse of SBC’s Past: SBC’s Haunted Historic Habitats

You can see Ruth’s column with all of its photos by downloading this week’s Sentinel. A Google Documents version of the Sentinel is available further up on this website.

By Ruth Musser-Lopez
Unremarkable was the painted structure on the downtown Upland corner of First Avenue and Ninth Street, until Attorney Marjorie Mikels stripped layers of paint off the firebrick, resurrecting the law office of Attorney Archie Mitchel and the old Draper Mortuary to its original stately appearance.   In this building Mitchel left the law practice to reside as Justice of the Peace, which also elevated the stature of the structure to Upland Justice Court; a dungeon like room off to the side served for a time as the city morgue.
While the court, the morgue and Mitchel have long since passed, the spirit of Judge Mitchel, who was an important historic figure in both Upland and Ontario, is said to linger there.  In the early 40s, as a young college student, the late Harvey Stump was hired for night shift to guard the bodies in the morgue, some of which were considered evidence in murder trial cases.  Allegedly, while on duty, he often heard strange sounds.
Archie Mitchel’s law office on the south side of the building was the same one that Attorney Mikels occupied for a few years.  Through the last twenty years, frequently she worked late at night on difficult cases there. Often the doors would “creek” she says, and she would “welcome the ghost of former Justice Court Judge Archie Mitchel to assist her in those weighty court briefs.”
Considered the “heart” of the Ontario Airport, Archie Delwood Mitchel along with Waldo Waterman, Hugh Wolfe, Allan Couch, and several others, figured largely in its founding in 1923, then called Latimer Field after the Orange Packing Company next to the landing field.  At that time the field was east of Central Avenue, 3 miles west of the current airport near the Union Pacific railroad track, where pilots gaged the direction and strength of the wind by observing the smoke from the steam locomotives passing below.  You can see Judge Archie Mitchel’s portrait next to another historic figure, Mayor John Latimer in the tiled mosaic rendered at the current Ontario International Airport.
Though not meant to be an exhaustive list, here are a few more notable historic haunted habitats maintained in San Bernardino County mentioned at among others.
The Joshua Tree Inn at 61259 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree.
Some people believe that ghost of the Gram Parsons, father of country rock, former Flying Burrito Brother and paramour/collaborator of Emmy Lou Harris, inhabits room 8, which is where Parsons died at age 26 of a morphine and alcohol overdose in 1973.  Joshua Tree was apparently Parson’s favorite haunt when he was alive, retreating there to drop acid and watch for UFOs. Now, his eidolon will allegedly move or relocate small items such as earrings and will move the mirror that hangs on the wall – which is reported to be the only piece of furniture that still remains from the furnishings that were in the room when he died. Joshua Tree Inn thrives from the reputation:  “[Room 8] is haunted – bring your guitar and write songs!”
Early Redlands citrus farmers, David and Sarah Morey built The Morey Mansion at 190 Terracina Boulevard in Redlands in 1890.  Some say that both of them remain in the house today.  Locally tales hold that Sarah died a tragic death in a bedroom referred to as the Blue Room and her husband committed suicide shortly thereafter, in 1901.  The “Blue Room” is now reported to be haunted; orbs and hot spots have also been alleged. The property has changed hands over the years, owned by various famous and wealthy people. In 2006 it was converted to use as a bed and breakfast inn.  In 2009, the year before it became a private residence, a ghost-hunting team inspected the place in an episode of The Outsiders.  They captured photographs and other evidence of the initials S.M. (Sarah Morey).
The Beverly Hotel at 112 S. Euclid Ave. in Ontario appears to be a circa 1920s era structure likely built about the same time as the nearby Granada theater.  It is now allegedly haunted by “cold spots” flickering lights, shadows seen in the southwest 2nd floor corner window, footsteps and random fire alarms sounding.  Sounds like Chaffey’s Class of ‘71 got loose.
In “parting,” please keep in mind that the value of maintaining historic structures using “in kind” parts and materials increases the worth of a property.  Regular maintenance will keep a place from getting creaky and creepy.  Replacing electrical fixtures and wiring on old places will not only enhance the value but is safer and keeps sirens, alarms and lights from flickering on and off from loose or dirty connections.  Happy Haunting and be safe this Halloween.

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