The Capitola Theater, Cinelux, Depot Hill, Mr. Toots Coffeehouse, The Shadowbrook Restaurant, The Rispin Mansion
The Capitola Theater
The late Capitola Theater, once an opera house, was built in 1948 and was recently demolished in 2009. Since the 1990s, there have been reports of supernatural occurrences throughout the building. The first report was from a construction worker who said that he heard a large crowd of people in the theater talking as if they were waiting for a show to start. As soon as he entered the room, the noise suddenly stopped and no one was there. Other workers have claimed to hear the same thing, but it only lasts for a few seconds, and then starts up again, reoccurring multiple times.
The previous owner, who passed away in 1997, was said to haunt the Capitola Theater. Her voice was heard throughout the building on several occasions. One time an employee was at the theater by herself when the phone rang. She heard a female voice yell from upstairs, “I’ll get it!” When she went upstairs to investigate the voice she had heard, there was no one to be found.
Although the theater no longer stands (a parking lot in its place) the ghosts are said to remain, still performing.
THE CAPITOLA THEATER
Year built: 1948
(Now a parking lot)
120 Monterey Road
Capitola, CA 95010
The Cinelux (41st Avenue Cinemas)
Over the years, guests and staff have heard unexplainable sounds at the 41st Avenue movie theater, in addition to feeling as if they are being watched by an invisible force.
One night, years back while my friend was in the Ladies’ Room, she felt as if someone was looking at her over the stall in the bathroom. Right after her unsettling experience, she asked an employee at the concession stand, “Is this place haunted?” The employee believed it was, and said that she also had something strange happen to her in a bathroom stall.
I interviewed former manager Chet Bauerle who had several unexplained encounters, particularly during the late hours of the night and after closing. “As closing manager, when you were there alone or with one other person, you always feel as if you’re being watched, or that something was trying to help you. It wasn’t necessarily friendly, but it also wasn’t necessarily hostel. There are about five areas of the building that just feel off.”
The former manager’s most eerie encounter took place in Auditorium 1, while previewing movies after hours. While he was watching a film, he saw curtains near the exit sign begin to move. “The curtains would slightly move back and you’d see this figure look out,” Chet explained. He said the ghost looked like an ethnic homeless person, and wonders if maybe someone had gotten trapped and died in the vicinity long ago. His friend had also witnessed the figure standing near the exit on a different occasion, in addition to feeling the unsettling presence that lingers when the theater is practically empty. “I never went back into that auditorium unless there were other people in there,” he stated.
Chet once saw the dark figure of a male standing in the hallway near Auditorium 3 after hours one night. It was there for only a second before it disappeared.
After interviewing Chet, he kindly gave me a short tour of the establishment. There I was able to feel exactly what he was talking about. That place definitely has a creepy vibe; especially in the projection booth. I spoke to another employee who is convinced that the projection booth is haunted. He said too many unexplainable things has happened to him up there, and you can just “feel it.”
CINELUX - CAPITOLA
Year built: 1972
1475 41st Ave
Capitola, CA 95010
Mr. Toots Coffeehouse
In recent years, an apparition of an old woman has been witnessed by a few employees at the coffeehouse. I visited the shop and asked an employee if he had seen the ghost. He said that he hadn’t, but he had heard of the haunting. He told me that his co-worker recently saw the old woman standing in the middle of the room, only to vanish seconds later.
MR. TOOTS COFFEEHOUSE
Year built: 1936
231 Esplanade # 100
Capitola, CA 95010
The Shadowbrook Restaurant
The mansion was first built for Ernestine O. Fowler, resident of San Francisco in the 1920s. It was used as his weekend getaway until 1940. The vacant quarters sat for five years before being bought, restored and remolded into the Shadowbrook, which opened its doors in 1947.
While the haunted house was unoccupied, many neighbors alleged seeing strange things along with having unusual and eerie experiences on the property. “…the presence of both a man and a woman have been seen,” Randall A. Reinstedt, California Ghost Notes.
In recent years, apparitions and supernatural mists have been sighted in the enchanting restaurant during after-hours by former employees.
Objects are said to move on their own, as well as doors and windows that shut regularly when the air is still.
I spoke to an employee who said that he usually feels the presence of a male spirit while he’s cleaning up on the bottom floor after closing for the night. The staff member alleged seeing napkins fly off the tables on their own occasionally. “I even saw it on the security camera one time,” he stated.
A bartender shared with me that a guest had an unexplainable encounter late one evening in 2011 when she was in the ladies room. The young woman entered the powder room, thinking she was alone, but while she was in the stall, the lights suddenly turned off and she heard footsteps walking toward her. As the unseen force reached the door of her stall, the woman then heard shuffling which abruptly stopped. She opened the stall to find no one there leaving her with a chill.
One of the entities that has been sighted in the romantic and elegant establishment over the years just may be the friendly ghost of Fowler, who also haunts his old, charming estate.
Possible spirit orbs in the main dining room, Shadowbrook Restaurant, 2018
The Rispin Mansion
Built in 1921, the Rispin Mansion was first owned by the wealthy Rispin Family, then became a Monastary and later a police dog training school. The mansion has been abandoned, dilapidated, and condemned since the 1970s. Its lack of upkeep seems to incubate more paranormal occurences from all its history. There are numerous spirits which haunt this eerie three-story building. Legend has it that anyone who lives there is cursed with losing all of their money.
The famous “Lady in Black,” a Jesuit nun, makes her presence known more than any other ghost on the property. Several locals have experienced her paranormal antics, which include her full-body apparition appearing sporadically throughout the mansion. The nun has been observed standing in front of the top-story window looking down into the courtyard. She has also been witnessed reading a Bible in a rocking chair on the back porch. Some locals claim she has told vistors to, “Get out!”
Disembodied sounds of a dog barking and whining have been heard coming from the basement, also known as the dungeon. It is believed that this K-9 haunts the vincinty where he stayed when it was a police dog academy.
Back in the 1980s, after the house had been abandoned, a man fell through the floor boards three stories down to the basement. After crying for help for three days, he passed away from his injuries. Many have heard the spirit of a man cry out for help in the night.
Other paranormal activity in the mansion includes hearing disembodied voices and screams, loud footsteps, windows and doors opening, as well as cold spots felt throughout this grandiose home. Some also attest to seeing the ghost of a man wearing glasses and holding a drink in front of the fireplace in the main room.
In October of 2012, my friends and I heard disembodied footsteps going down the cement pathway along the left side of the mansion late in the night. We kept waiting to see who was walking toward us, but no one was there. The footsteps continued off and on for minutes, and sometimes it sounded like multiple footsteps. Using a Mel Meter device we picked up random spikes around the perimeter of the mansion.