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).