With Halloween just around the corner, my thoughts are on places in Tempe that are reputed to be haunted. Tempe was settled in the second half of the 1800s. Some of the old buildings are still in use by businesses and a few purportedly have permanent residents who, though long dead, make an occasional ghostly appearance. So, if you’re looking for a little spooky action and goosebumpy fun this Halloween, you might visit Tempe’s spine tingling Halloween haunts.
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, its 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 had a glimpse of Sarah, she can be described as having fair skin and dark hair. Chug down a few of those good beers and you might see Sarah too.
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. Skeptic that I am, I 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 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. Basement ghosts are especially scary.
It is also rumored that Palo Verde East, one of ASU’s dormitory buildings, has had unnerving paranormal activity. As reports have it, a girl committed suicide in room 605 on the sixth floor. There have been sightings throughout the entire building.
Hayden Flour Mill
119 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
Probably the most eye catching and the most notable place in Tempe is Hayden Flour Mill. 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, is nothing but peculiar.
La Casa Vieja
1 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281
Lying in the shadows of Hayden Flour Mill is La Casa Vieja (The Old House). Even though it’s no longer open to the public it bears mentioning. 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 four and was buried next to the fountain in the courtyard. There were reports of hearing children’s voices around the fountain. The West Coast Ghost and Paranormal Society sent a team to investigate and they found evidence of paranormal activity.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
1340 E. 8th St. #104, Tempe, AZ 85281
We all love the historic building that sits at 8th street and Dorsey and houses Four Peaks Brewing Company, but what if I told you this beloved favorite is also haunted? From the beginning, employees have witnessed strange and mysterious things happening. From weird noises echoing from the rafters to missing equipment, there’s been an unknown presence that is undeniable.
It’s rumored that some employees have even had an encounter—and in one case, conversed with—ghostly apparitions. After doing research of their own, Four Peaks discovered that their building has seen its share of tragedy, from train wrecks just outside the building to actual deaths within it.
The Eisendrath House
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. Chicago native, Rose Eisendrath, was among some of the first, what we consider, “snowbirds” during the Roaring Twenties. During one of her visits down to the Valley, she was refused entry at a resort because of her Jewish background. 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 repurchased 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 people can come to visit the historical site.
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.
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, fun and that any encounters with the spirit world are marginally frightening but mostly friendly.
For more information on worldly things to do in Tempe, visit our Tempe calendar of events or call 480-894-8158.