EVERETT — George the janitor, Jerri the shuffling smoker and a deadly robbery skulk in the city’s paranormal past.
At least, that’s according to the stories compiled in the first walking audio tour from the Everett Museum of History.
The streaming narration, available at www.soundcloud.com/everett-museum-of-history/haunted-walking-tour, takes brave listeners to six spots with noted grim histories. The Catholic Community Service building, Everett Civic Auditorium, Historic Everett Theatre, YMCA and others are on the list.
Some are where a person died decades ago. Some are home to orbs of light, nudges from nowhere and seats folding down with nobody in them.
“It’s this small-town thing. You grow up hearing (ghost stories) about the buildings,” said Chase Dermott, the education and public programs director of the Everett museum.
“A lot of those buildings are still standing, and a lot of people have worked in them through the years. It’s just one of those spooky, fun things people do: We pass on those spooky stories. We like to creep out our kids and our friends.”
Everett, which celebrated turning 125 years old earlier this year, is laden with century-old buildings. Places that can, over time, accumulate a myth. Recall the notorious Everett Massacre, in which seven people (officially) died over workers rights.
But some of the city’s lesser-known tragedies carry a similar dread.
The museum has a space being renovated on Colby Avenue and Wall Street, but in the meantime is similar to a phantom — an entity without a body. Dermott has been on the museum’s staff since April after first volunteering in spring 2017. She and intern Elaine Carter researched many of the stories, creating a long list of 20 candidates before narrowing them to the final six.
The path takes people along a portion of the Downtown Everett Association’s trick-or-treat route. The audio tour’s creation was spurred by a request from the association to partner with the museum, Dermott said.
“We don’t have our artifacts out yet, so how do we connect with the community in some way that doesn’t step on other organizations’ plans, and how do we connect with what we have?” she said.
Creating a companion piece to the trick-or-treating made sense for the museum. That way people can listen while they walk the route while learning about the city’s past.
The tour is not bound to just Halloween, and makes for a compelling stroll any day of the year.
All together, it takes about 15 minutes to walk it. For adults with a thirst, factor in more time to turn it into a paranormal pub crawl.
People out on Halloween can look for pumpkins painted with the museum’s “E” logo as location markers, but the audio tells people where to go for each story.
Doing the tour at night lets listeners’ imaginations take hold. Anyone worried about what frights await can listen — and be not afraid. Dermott said she selected stories and only uses details that are appropriate for children.
“If it upset me as a parent, I thought, I don’t really want anyone else to have to listen to this also,” she said.
The first stop in the tour is at the Everett Civic Auditorium. There, a student and a teacher reportedly saw a glowing orb “where no light could have been.” Those stories were found in a collection of Everett High School students’ paranormal encounters, Dermott said.
Others hew nearer to true crime. For example, the third stop at Colby and California Street is where a baker was shot and killed while his wife and child were upstairs. Years later, notorious criminal Henri Young, who was incarcerated at Alcatraz, reportedly confessed to the crime. The chilling parting comment from Dermott is that Young was released from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla in 1972 and never heard from again. If he were alive today, he would be 107.
Others seem to meld fact and fiction, like all great ghost tales. The final stop at the Everett Family YMCA is about a ghost called George the janitor who supposedly roams the facility. The legend is that he died saving children from a fire March 31, 1920.
Part of the building that was torched remains condemned and sectioned off. But archive records of The Daily Herald available at the Everett Public Library’s Northwest Room make no mention of any injuries from that fire, let alone the death of a janitor named George.
“I don’t know anything about any of those kinds of things,” said Jack O’Donnell, a member of Historic Everett and a lifelong Everett resident.
“I’m always kind of skeptical with these.”
More recently, the YMCA tale refers to a paranormal investigation at the gym from 2012. A couple of youth members there wanted to see if they could gather evidence of a ghost. Supposedly, video shows a punching bag swaying vigorously on its own, well after closing time.
Details like that may help its legend, even if the truth is a little less ghoulish, live on.
“I co-wrote it, I read it and I narrated it and I said it a thousand times and even I got goosebumps from listening to it,” Dermott said.