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Sep 20, 2018
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Photo by Jesse Franz A sign outside of Wolfe Manor warns potential trespassers that the home is on private property.

Hometown Haunts: A Collegian reporter takes a look at some of the Valley’s spookiest spaces and shares his research

Photo by Jesse Franz A sign outside of Wolfe Manor warns potential trespassers that the home is on private property.

Photo by Jesse Franz
A sign outside of Wolfe Manor warns potential trespassers that the home is on private property.

I’ve seen this horror story before. A journalist who doesn’t believe in the supernatural goes hunting for the most haunted places in town.

It’s so clichéd it had me a bit spooked as I went out on assignment to catalog some of the most haunted places in Fresno for Halloween. I’m happy to report that, barring the possibility that I’ve really been a ghost this whole time in some M. Night Shamalan twist, I’ve survived.

I now present you with some of the most, reportedly, haunted places in Fresno.

Wolfe Manor

It’s the most prolific haunted attraction in town and has the dark history of any true American horror story. Featured on supernatural-themed programs such as Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Adventures the house has taken on a life and folklore of its own.

The Fresno Bee reported current owner Todd Wolfe even has plans to make it into a hotel. However, the City of Clovis has condemned the property and recently said the home must either be repaired or demolished to meet safety codes. After 91 years, Wolfe Manor may be on its way to becoming a ghost of its own.

Fresno Magazine said the house was built at the request of Anthony Andriotti in 1922 and was perhaps one of the most extravagant mansions the young city of Clovis had ever seen. Popular history tells the enormous house and his subsequently enormous bills bankrupted him, forcing him to lose the house.

In 1935, the magazine reports the home later became a sanatorium where it treated patients with terminal illnesses such as tuberculosis. Folklore says the conditions were so horrible, and the treatment so barbaric at the sanatorium, that deaths were rampant.

The manor’s website claims interviews with staff members and information from police reports revealed there was a period when deaths at the mansion were common. It also claims employees came forward not long after they were hired, bothered by some of the things happening at the sanitarium. The website said these employees also reported supernatural appearances.

Michael Banti, writer of WeirdFresno.com, claims to have been inside Wolfe Manor a dozen times and said the residence is, “definitely haunted, but not like how it’s been portrayed on TV. I’ve been touched, seen shadow figures and heard footsteps.”

He continued to say that, “unfortunately it’s hard to make out the actual history from what was created to promote the Halloween attraction there.”

Today, signs outside of the house read, “Condemned: Unsafe to enter,” and proclaim a closed circuit television and audio system is wired throughout the house to prevent and dissuade any ghost hunters who might aspire to climb the chain link fence guarding the former sanatorium.

The Tyler Street House

The Tyler Street House may be lesser known than the infamous Wolfe Manor. Perhaps the most unique thing about it is that Katie Rutherford, who now gives tours of haunted places in Old Town and the Tower District, bought the house and catalogued her own supernatural experience within the residence.

The house was built in 1925, but not much reportedly supernatural activity is recorded until the mid 1980s, when poltergeist activity allegedly began. Since then, it’s said to have had over 20 occupants, none lasting in the residence long.

The predominant folklore stories involve a young child being abused and neglected in the house. He would be locked in a dark room with no way out, and subject to his mother’s abusive boyfriend, says the legend.

“From what I know poltergeist activity was said to have happened there years ago. The thing with poltergeist activity is that it usually only lasts a few weeks and is almost always accompanied by a teen going through puberty,” said Banti.

Some people who claim to have been inside the house report that they’ve seen things move off shelves without anyone touching them, a pair of red eyes following them throughout the house and other supernatural occurrences.

Notes taken by the owner of occurrences at the house can be found at nightfalltours.com.

The Craycroft House

The Craycroft house is more commonly known as “that creepy abandoned brick house you pass near Palm and Sierra.” However, the history, and possibly the haunt, is worth taking the time to stop and check it out.

The house was built in 1927 by Frank J. Craycroft. He built the house as a beautiful example of what a new brick he invented could do. The brick had great insulating properties, making it perfect for Fresno’s cold winters and warm summers.

Before the house was finished though, Craycroft was reportedly shot by an unhappy brick mason. Even though he was not killed in the house, some corners of the internet claim that Craycroft still haunts the premises.

Walking up to the house, it is easy to see why an observer might believe it’s haunted. Guarded by not one but two gates, its failing brick and boarded-up windows make it stick out like a sore thumb among the quiet neighborhood surrounding it. It’s still standing largely to the fact that it is owned by the City of Fresno and is one of the city’s historic landmarks.

Banti believes the old and decaying look to the Craycroft House makes it, “more urban legend than anything.”

Some have claimed they’ve seen pentagrams, drawn in “blood,” and heard glass bottles crashing into the walls of the home, and none of these claim to have made the noise, or seen who did.

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