Haunted Places in Bham: Wardner’s Castle

I did some research on Wardner’s Castle because *drum roll* I’m part of an amateur ghost hunting crew (through KVIK).

I’m really not that confident that there are ghosts. In Bellingham, especially. I just really want to be scared by something and after my high school years where all I watched was Ghost Hunters this is sort of a living out a childhood dream kinda thing.

However, Wardner’s Castle is legit.

This guy, named James Wardner, made tons of money mining silver in Idaho, moved to Bellingham, and built himself a gigantic mansion.

He also bought Eliza Island (one of the San Juans) and told everyone he was planning to use it for the “Black Cat Consolidated Co.” His business plan: find stray black cats (free), raise them on the island, then skin them and sell their fur as “seal fur” for a lucrative profit. To sustain the population, he’d feed the dead cats to the live cats, with maybe some salmon on the side. (This probably didn’t actually happen but) The whole country freaked out and there were articles about him from coast to coast talking about what an awful person he was. Anyway, that’s why there is now a “black cat” (ou Le Chat Noir) restaurant in Fairhaven. And, according to local legend, a healthy supply of stray black cats in the area.

Story #2: So there was a couple who lived in the house during the 1980s. They commissioned this local artist named Laura to paint a mural on all of the third floor. Meaning every wall. Every single one.

That’s the artist with her creation. The painting showcased all the “spirits” who haunted the house or had some connection to it. She thoughtfully included black cats everywhere and ghost ships and Eliza Island. And a disembodied hand that represented the artists’ dead father who drowned in Bellingham Bay while she was painting it. She also painted herself into the mural, right at the top of the stairs (where she’s sitting in the picture), inviting everyone to come see the mural. She dies in a car accident a few days after finishing her painting.

FAST FORWARD: The couple sells the house to a guy who makes it into a bed and breakfast (Castle Gate House B&B). He thinks the mural a little too creepy and not so appropriate for a B&B (rightly so) and covers all of the third floor in a new layer of drywall and a normal solid color on all the walls. Soon after completion, “paranormal activity” begins to occur and the guy gets freaked out. He asks for advice and is told that Laura the artist is angry that no one can appreciate her artwork anymore. He decides, he really truly decides, that the BEST, the most NORMAL idea would be to uncover the part of the mural that shows her face. Just her face. Not even her whole face.

WTF. This is now the image that awaits you at the top of the third floor stairs. I can’t wait to do a ghost hunt here (cross your fingers).


11 thoughts on “Haunted Places in Bham: Wardner’s Castle

  1. I stumbled across this entry while looking for some related material. I have a place on Eliza Island. The island is inhabited by a male ghost. Many of us have had dealings with him. Wondering if he could be part of the Wardner ghosts?

  2. Hey actually you have some of the facts incorrect. The “SUPER CRAZY” couple you speak of we’re my aunt and uncle. They are fabulous people. My aunt actually died a number of years ago. The faces on the mural were my aunt, uncle, all their children and I believe my aunt’s guru.

  3. Taylor,
    Thanks for researching this. My roommate and I went Geocaching near the castle yesterday and found it to be rather intriguing. I would live to see the inside…hopefully it gets fixed up sooner than later.

  4. I went to high school with a girl in the 1980s who lived here and visited the house. The murals were definitely spooky and the whole house had a strange feel to it. My aquaintance used to invite friends over after school as much as possible as she did not like to be alone in the house. She said that the family had smelled cherry tobacco in the house (alledgedly from Wardner’s ghostly pipe) and some other haunting stories. The creepiest part for me, however, was the artist’s face looking out of the wall at her own paintings, only to have been killed shortly after completing them. Sad that the murals were covered, but also understandable.

  5. P.S. I was told at that time that the artist had painted murals in a previous house which had been destroyed by fire and so painted herself peering out of the paint in the Wardner mansion so that she could always look at her work.

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