Tag Archives: haunted building

The Parkside Ghost

Informant is LO, a USC freshman from New York City, New York.


“The Parkside Ghost has never been taken seriously. It’s common knowledge but no one truly believes in it. Sometimes all the lights will go dark and you’re in the hallway, and the lights on the other side of the hallway will start flickering which is just scary especially when it’s late at night. Then you have other instances where the elevator doors open randomly, like when the elevator is there but no one ever walks in. There’s also The Stench. It kind of smells like sulfur, rotten eggs, and you smell it and then it goes away. It usually stays for five minutes and we’re all like ‘Oh, it’s the parkside ghost.’ There’s also no hot water, although recently there has been. All of those have happened to me, so there definitely could be a ghost, but I think they’re all circumstantial. I think it makes it more fun, personally I don’t believe it. Also because Parkside is pretty old, so there’s that idea.”


The University of Southern California was founded in 1880, and the Parkside residential buildings which informant LO references were built over the course of multiple years in the 2000s, making them at least 10 years old. The Parkside residential buildings include Parkside Arts and Humanities Residential College — a special living community for freshmen interested in the arts and humanities — Parkside International Residence College — a special living community targeted at first year students seeking an international experience — and Parkside Apartments — a living space designated primarily for juniors and seniors.


As USC is an institution with a nearly 150-year tradition, there are bound to be certain legends and folk narratives that form. This memorize reflects one consequence of an old school, which is the presence of old buildings. However, unlike other ghost stories — such as those from Estonia which tell of demons which steal property from Ülo Valk’s “Ghostly Possession and Real Estate: The Dead in Contemporary Estonian Folklore” — this ghost story lacks any reference to “unfinished business,” whether from a failed ritual or disappointed ancestors. Rather, as LO states, the goal is simply to make fun of the poor quality of an old building, and perhaps give some explanation to the unexplainable, as some ghost stories do.

Roaming Soldier


Y: Okay. So, um, I grew up in New Jersey. The town was, like, very colonial. Very like, it was like from the colonial times and like that’s when people started moving there. And just- so we had a tavern and they always find oysters and whatnot around it. But anyway, so this redcoat was staying in the tavern’s hotel room, like in one of the rooms and then he, he was murdered, they offed him. And so <laugh>, um, legend has it. They’re like still haunted and I forget what the name of the class was called, but in fifth grade we had the owner of the house come talk to us about her experience living there. And so she says like, “oh yeah, no, it’s, haunted it like homeboy comes up and down the stairs.” 

Me: So was she like a descendant or was she a whole other person? 

Y: No, just a whole other person. Okay. She just lives in the, I think they bought it like 20 something years ago, but it’s like, it’s like a historical registered, like, and so, yeah, legend has it that this murdered soldier goes around the halls and it was like right next to my elementary school. 

Me: Do you know what experiences they’ve had? 

Y: There’s like, um, she’s talked about homeboy, like on the stairs, like she’ll hear them creaking randomly, and then something with the shutters too, like closing the shutters. 

Me: Does she hear it or do the shutters actually close? 

Y: Hears it.

Me: So it’s all auditory? 

Y: Yeah. 

Background: Y is a 20 year old who was born and raised in New Jersey. She now resides in Los Angeles, California. 

Context: This story was told to me at a hangout among friends.Analysis: I liked this story because of its universality. The tavern that Y speaks of doesn’t have a specific name that sticks in the memory of the teller. She wasn’t even sure what city/town the tavern was in. Instead, the part of the story that stuck in her mind for all of these years was that a man was murdered in the building and now haunts it. The story, as it was passed around and as time moved on, was distilled into its most basic form.

Curses and Ghosts

The interlocutor (JG) has moved into different houses and buildings with their family, taking note of strange occurrences happening in each location. Documented below are some of their experiences with the paranormal.

DESCRIPTION: (told over the phone)
(JG): “The houses and apartments that I’ve like, lived in have been very active with ghosts. If you can’t tell, we have a lot going on in the family.” (They laugh).

“So the house I lived in before this one [their current home], I lived in an apartment before that one, before that one. So like, three household…residences ago. That one was like, really, really active. There’d be a lot of stuff going on, like doors would open and close by themself. At that point, my brother was a baby and that was when my uncles had just passed away. And so there was a lot going on with that. Like, he would sit in the middle of the living room and babble to himself. And-he-my dad and my uncle, like as [my brother] was talking to seemingly no one, would feel, like, rushes of cold air. My mom had sent up like, a little altar for my first uncle that passed away and we put like a little beer thingy there. And somehow all of the beer that was in that cup disappeared in a few minutes, but the only person who was there was [my brother], but [my brother] was a toddler, like he couldn’t even walk at this point, or reach the thingy. We never told him my uncles’ names either, but when he grew up and got old enough to talk, he knew their names and that’s because we think that whoever he was babbling to as a baby was my uncles.

There was also, whenever it would rain, if you went all the way to the back, you could hear heels. Like heels heels. Every single person who went over to our house heard them at least once and they would come up to the back door. There was that. Yeah. Stuff here and there, doors opening and closing, napkins floating around, aprons moving, wind always passing around, lights and the TV turning on by themselves. There’s been a lot of things in every single house we lived in but those are some examples. From every place we’ve lived in.”

Personally, I have never had an experience quite like JG’s with the supernatural. I found it interesting how JG notes that their baby brother (at the time) was the only one who had the ability to “communicate” with who their family believed to be the recently passed uncles. It’s even eerier how JG said how their family never told their brother about the uncles’ names, but he grew up and was able to recall them. I don’t understand how exactly, but it is definitely worth mentioning! JG stated that they’ve moved houses a lot, so I’m curious about whether or not other residents of the homes or apartments felt the same ghostly presence.

The Old Slaughterhouse

A Tale about an old slaughterhouse up in Northern California and the ghosts that haunt the decaying building.

C: There’s an old slaughter house, up near some of the old, um–not old, it just got bought out again — golf course on March Creek Road.

L: Up in Brentwood?

C: Yeah, well, yeah. Well up in, kinda, there’s like this big farm area and there’s like, these hills that lead, like, up towards Mount Diablo. You keep going that direction, and in that area is this old slaughter house. I don’t know if it was actually a slaughterhouse, but it’s like this old, decrepit building in the middle of nowhere that you can hike out to. And rumor has it you can go up there at night– Ghost!

L: What kind of ghosts?

C: Like, ha-ha-ha, the most real thing that happened is like, someone saw a figure with a gun. But it’s also like, spooky shenanigans, strange figures, weird noises. Ooh, spooky. And, like, teenagers hanging out in a place where they’re not supposed to noises.

L: Is it just because it’s a slaughterhouse or did something happen?

C: I think it’s just because it’s a slaughterhouse. And like, there’s other– there’s a hill and I don’t know where it is because I’ve never gone there, but, um. I’m just thinking now because it’s like, yeah, because it’s a freaking hill, like um, where people would go to do “the make outs” and it was also considered haunted for some reason. The one that I remember is like, “Oh your car will start moving” and I’m like, yeah, duh, it’s a hill. You don’t put your car– haha–you don’t  put your break on that’s gonna happen.

There are a plethora of spooky tales about areas that are associated with death. Graveyards, hospitals, and in this case, a slaughter house are all places that fill our imagination with ghost hauntings. Death– whether it’s human or animal– forces people to confront their own mortality, and so, stories of ghosts haunting this slaughter house are passed by word of mouth from person to person in the Brentwood town it neighbors.

Leo Carillo Amphitheater

Background: The informant is a 14-year-old high school freshman living in El Segundo, California. The informant is my brother.

Context: After family dinner, my brother overheard a conversation about folklore I was having with my parents and he seemed interested, so I decided to explain the field of folklore to him and even interview him on some of the folklore he was aware of.

Main Piece: The informant described he and his friends stumbled upon an abandoned amphitheater on a trip to Leo Carillo State Park a few years ago.

Informant: Me and my friends would go there and there was like, or like the amphitheater, it was said like ‘Oh if you go in there, you die’. We would always get, f*cking, scared sh*tless whenever we would go near that.

Collector: Who said that?

Informant: I don’t know dude; it was like my friends and there was just like that story of that amphitheater.

Collector: So, it was an amphitheater in the middle of the forest?

Informant: No, the slender forest (another piece of folklore my brother has described to me before) and the amphitheater are two different things. It was just a tiny abandoned amphitheater.

Collector: And none of you ever went in there?

Informant: No, never. We barely ever went NEAR it dude. We would like ride our bikes there, and we would just run away.

Interpretation: This story of the haunted amphitheater is a great example of how children can create folklore about haunted or abandoned places without any prior knowledge or local lore. The informant and his friends obviously believed their saying “If you go in there, you die” because they clearly tried to avoid the place as much as possible. I find it interesting that the ghost stories I’ve heard from adults seem to have much more of a narrative, whereas the ghost stories or haunted places my brother has described to me when he was much younger are not so much narratives, but rather simple scares or sayings such as “If you go in there, you die”. Perhaps analyzing the differences between how adults and children tell their haunted tales can provide some interesting insights into the genre of ghost folklore.