Halloween is the perfect time of year to explore Tempe’s spookiest locations
If you’re looking for a spooky experience this Halloween, add a visit to Tempe’s top spine-tingling Halloween haunts to your fall to-do list. Settled in the second half of the 1800s, Tempe is home to a variety of old buildings with stories to tell. If you’re looking for a heads up on haunted lore, you’ve come to the right place.
Are these accounts of inexplicable happenings and ghostly apparitions true? That’s for you to decide. Welcome to spooky season in Tempe.
Arizona State University Tempe Campus
Arizona State University has a number of places that have experienced paranormal activity. One is the Virginia G. Piper Writers House, a cozy little place, that years ago, was the home of the university’s presidents. Rumor has it that the ghost of Dixie Gammage, wife of former ASU President Grady Gammage, has stayed around. She has been seen on occasion walking past second-story windows dressed in a bathrobe and wearing a hat. As skeptics, we wonder if these sightings are legit or the fruits of some of the Piper Center’s writers’ imaginations. Ghost stories do make for good reading.
The A. J. Matthews Center, built in 1930, is also reportedly haunted. This stately looking brick building with columns was ASU’s first library. Supposedly, the specter of a librarian who perished in a fire there has given more than one person a good scare. And then there are accounts of the ghost of another woman lurking around the basement late at night. If you ask us, basement ghosts are especially scary.
It’s also rumored that Palo Verde East, one of ASU’s dormitory buildings, has had unnerving paranormal activity. As reports have it, a young woman took her own life in room 605 on the sixth floor. Subsequently, there have been sightings reported throughout the entire building.
Casey Moore’s Oyster House
850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
Tempe’s most famous haunted place is Casey Moore’s Oyster House, located at the corner of Ninth Street and Ash Avenue. Originally built as a private residence in 1910, Casey Moore’s is one of Tempe’s most popular restaurants and pubs. It’s known for great seafood, beer selection and inviting outdoor patio. It’s also known for its ghost, a young woman named Sarah, who was strangled by a jealous lover in the restaurant’s Blue Room. Staff and guests claim to have caught glimpses of Sarah, describing her as having fair skin and dark hair. Throw back a few of those fantastic beers and you might see Sarah, too.
1400 N. College Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
While we could not confirm any haunts at this location, the Eisendrath House has one of the most interesting backstories in Tempe. During the Roaring Twenties, Chicago native Rose Eisendrath was among some of the first of what we now consider “snowbirds.” During one of her visits down to the Valley, she was refused entry at a resort because of her Jewish heritage. In response, Rose purchased 40 acres of land just north of the Salt River in Tempe and commissioned Robert T. Evans to build her an adobe villa resort home of her own overlooking the Superstition Mountains. The house, which she named Lomaki (Hopi for “pretty home”), was completed in late 1930, and Rose came to visit for the first time soon after.
Rose visited and hosted guests at the house every winter for six years until her death on Christmas Eve in 1937. After her death, the house was passed along from owner to owner until it was eventually abandoned. In recent years, the City of Tempe purchased the land and restored the home, turning it into the Eisendrath Center for Water Conservation. It now serves the public by offering free water conservation classes for local residents and as a historical place people can visit.
While there are no confirmations of a haunting, the house has an interesting past and represents a fascinating time in the Valley. Josh Roffler, the senior curator for the Tempe History Museum, says, “I like to imagine that Rose is watching over the cocktail parties happening today.” It is possible Rose’s presence still lingers in her Sonoran retreat.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
1340 E. 8th St. #104, Tempe, AZ 85281
Located in a historic building at 8th Street and Dorsey Lane, Four Peaks Brewing Company, was featured on Discovery channel’s “Ghost Adventures” — season 28, episode 13, entitled “Terror in Tempe” aired Aug. 16. 2023 — due to an undeniable presence within.
Strange and mysterious happenings include reports of weird noises echoing from the rafters and missing equipment to employee encounters that include at least one conversation with a ghostly apparition. After doing research of their own, the folks at Four Peaks discovered that their building has seen its share of tragedy, from train wrecks just outside the building to actual deaths within it.
Hayden Flour Mill
119 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
Hayden Flour Mill is probably the most eye-catching and recognizable building in Tempe. Constructed in 1918, Hayden Flour Mill is the oldest cast in place in Tempe. The Flour Mill that you see today is not the original, as there have been two former mills that have burned before it. Since 1998, milling has ceased at Hayden Flour Mill, and now lies as a vacant and creepy shell of a place. Although we didn’t find any stories of ghostly encounters, the remains of what used to be our agricultural past are definitely peculiar and a little eerie after sunset.
La Casa Vieja
1 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281
Situated in the shadows of Hayden Flour Mill is La Casa Vieja (The Old House). The space is now leased to Downtown Tempe Authority and is commonly referred to as Hayden House. Built in 1871 by Tempe’s founder, Charles Trumbull Hayden, it has a rich history. From 1956 until closing in 2014, it was Monti’s La Casa Vieja, a popular steak house. Restaurant staff reported strange happenings, such as flickering lights and cabinets opening on their own for no reason. Patrons and staff claimed to have seen an apparition of a man dressed in old-fashioned cowboy clothing. Carl Hayden’s granddaughter, Sally, died at age 4 and was buried next to the fountain in the courtyard. There were reports of hearing children’s voices around the fountain (an expansion of the building now occupies this exact location). Once upon a time, The West Coast Ghost and Paranormal Society even sent a team to investigate and found evidence of paranormal activity.
It’s not surprising that Tempe has a few ghostly hangers on. Tempe is a great city and it’s perfectly understandable that some people love it here so much that they refuse to leave under any circumstances. May your Halloween be safe and fun — and any encounters with the spirit world be marginally frightening, but mostly friendly.
For more information on things to do in Tempe, visit our Tempe calendar of events.