Downtown Fullerton has its share of exotic restaurants, late-night bars, trendy retail stores, and visiting ghouls. But as Halloween edges closer, Orange County’s most haunted city is beginning to show its scary side. The annual Fullerton Haunted Walking Tour shows residents and visitors a side of the city they might not know about.
The tour’s first stop was the Louis Plummer Auditorium at Fullerton Union High School. A beautiful mural that decorated the walls of the school depicted life in California during the 1930’s. Images of popular figures in California history such as Jose Antonio Yorba are painted as well as representations of upper and lower class life.
Participants were introduced to an intriguing story of the “missing mural” that was covered by paint for 56 years. Charles Kassler, a one-armed political cartoonist, created this vivid fresco art and called it “Pastoral California.” It is believed that the mural was covered because of socialism and political movements at the time.
Around the corner from the mural is the entrance to the Plummer Auditorium where stories of Plummer allegedly caused inexplicable phenomenons to occur. Christina Garner, the tour guide and a high school teacher at Fullerton Union High described Plummer as “a positive figure and well-beloved in the community.”
Plummer passed away in 1952 and had been head of the commerce department at Fullerton High School. The auditorium was dedicated to him in 1962. Both students and staff have passed on stories of their encounter with Plummer’s ghost. In previous years psychic teams have even been called to investigate the eerie activities taking place at the auditorium.
After the brief walk around the Fullerton Union campus, the tour continued to Angelo and Vinci’s Ristorante. The traditional Italian restaurant was once a street market and dance studio where Steven Peck, former owner, served food to his dancers.
The group was lead to the third floor of the restaurant where proof of paranormal activity was offered by a recording session termed an “electronic voice phenomena.” Stories of tequila bottles jumping off shelves, sounds of people running up stairs, and a child’s voice speaking out of nowhere are told during the session. There is even a fun monster museum in the basement of the restaurant.
Fullerton’s historical box theater was the next stop as participants of the tour got a glimpse of the beautiful architectural work. A sculpture titled the “Mask of Tragedy” hung over the entrance of the theater. A black and white photo from Fullerton’s archives was shown to tour participants as evidence of a ghostly apparition sitting in the corner of the empty theater.
Mexican legend tells of a figure called La Llorona, the “weeping woman.” It is said her ghost can be seen near or around the Mexican river where she captures children as her victims.
A 19-month-old baby living across the street of the Fullerton River drowned in the river with no explanations, the mystery of the death lead many to believe in the tale of La Llorona. Because of this reason the Fullerton River was the next stop on the tour.
The tour took a much homier atmosphere as participants were lead to the home of Lillian Yaeger, Fullerton’s first lady mechanic. Yaeger built the house in 1917 and died there in 1978. Her house was later reconditioned after her death into a home and garden store that is now called Le Potager.
When entering the two-story house, visitors were welcomed by a warm and romantic aura. Yaeger was known to be a joyful and positive spirit and EVP sessions recorded sounds of a female singing in the bathroom.
“The story of the wailing woman was the scariest part of the tour,” said Adina Corke, Fullerton High School student .
John Reed one of the owners that started Le Potager describes Yaeger as a woman who had “impeccable eye for design and taste.”
Over the 14 years Reed has worked at the store he has witnessed Yaeger’s ghostly presence from her movement of items around the house.
Downtown Fullerton’s Brownstone Cafe Plaza was the final stop of the tour. Participants learned a little history about the California hotel built in 1922. This beautiful facility is an attraction to many Fullerton residents because of its venue and fountain.
Sightings of phantoms have been reported by guests sitting outside the Brownstone Cafe. Participants learned of the tragic suicide at the hotel, and how the “break-ins” of spirits spooked the former owner of the cafe with his own pots and pans.
The tour was highly informational and a great look into the historical side of Fullerton. Tickets spent on the exhibit support the arts program at the Fullerton museum for free after-school art classes for kids.
The tours begin at Fullerton Museum Center and involve approximately 1.5 miles of walking. Guests can also share stories of personal experiences and encounters with ghosts.
Garner tells participants that the tour is “always evolving from new stories, locations, and research.”
Tours are convenient for the public and right next to the FC campus. Tickets can be bought at the Fullerton Museum Center.
“We live here and we know so little about the history,” said Briggetta Pierrot, Fullerton High School student. “I learned a lot about Downtown Fullerton and the fact that there’s more stories. I think that’s really cool,”