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Restless On The Stairs


In the late 90s to early 2000s while I was attending high school my mother decided it was time for us to move from the country and back into "town." This was fine with me as it meant I would at last be in walking distance of things to do. The house she purchased was a two story white Victorian with some structural damage and decay from years of neglect by the elderly man who owned it previously. There are a lot of under maintained Victorian houses in Northern California, particularly along the coast so it wasn't something I hadn't seen a thousand times before. I remember thinking of it as the perfect cliche haunted house when I first saw it from the terrible state it was in. The house had not been painted in years and under the eves were large iron eagles attached to the wood which had rusted, causing the surrounding wood to rot and collapse. It had always been my mom's dream to live in a Victorian house however and I was willing to support her... For the most part. I personally had no particular interest in restoring this funky old house and from the look of it I couldn't imagine it having working plumbing, let alone cable or satellite TV (my priorities at the time).

The house was decent inside, although very worn. The floors were all hardwood and each room's floors seemed to slant in a different direction due to the house settling. This also had the eerie effect of causing the doors to open "on their own" from time to time. The doors all had skeleton key holes but none of the locks worked, and the tiny springs on the door latch inside the knob assembly were long worn out. You had to actually push doors closed with significant force, then turn the knob until the latch caught. If you didn't get the latch seated completely, it was just a matter of time until it popped loose and you would find yourself with a door slowly creaking open at random. Most of the windows in the house still contained hand made glass which had waves and bubbles swirled through it and they rattled any time a door opened or closed or someone walked toward them. The windows themselves were counterbalanced with pullies and lead weights in the walls which had dry rotted and fallen apart making the windows difficult to open and impossible to keep open without putting a stick or book in the sill to keep it propped up.

The events that I can only describe as "paranormal" began to occur within a week of moving in. My mother was the first to experience it. When she was alone in the house, particularly around the front parlor she would get the feeling of someone else being in the room. She didn't feel like she was being watched so much as just the presence of another body nearby. Sometimes she would hear noises in the plumbing that had once run throughout the house for the radiator heating system. The system had been completely disabled many years before but she was certain she could year the sound of water dripping from the pipes in the walls. She hired a plumber to come in and take a look but was told upon inspection that the pipes were bone dry and there were no signs of water leaking anywhere. Mom hired professional painters to come in and sand the house, repair minor damage and return the house to its original white color. When the painting started, that's when the most unusual things began to occur.

One night, very late, Mom was up reading in bed when she heard the sound of footsteps outside her room. The interior walls in unrenovated Victorian houses are thin lathe and plaster and offer virtually no sound proofing between rooms, so it was pretty easy to hear people coming and going in the house. The footsteps started downstairs, walked up the stairs, past Mom's bedroom door and down the hall toward my room. She didn't think much of it at first, assuming it was me returning from getting a drink or something. However, as I said before, it took considerable force to shut the doors in this house and when she didn't hear that familiar thump after the footsteps stopped it seemed strange. She finished her reading and was about to fall asleep when the footsteps started again. At the bottom of the steps, up the stairs, past her door and straight on to my room. Again she waited to hear the sound of the door being pushed shut but again there was nothing. This time she went to investigate but found everything silent and no sign of me. She went to my room and found me fast asleep.

After checking the doors and windows to make sure we didn't have an intruder she went back to her room and went to sleep. This same occurrence happened several more times on random nights, and at different times. One set of footsteps would go up the stairs, followed by another set several minutes later. The sound would always turn at the top of the stairs and walk down the hall towards my room where they would stop. My mom had always believed in ghosts and as the sounds weren't threatening she didn't have any concern or fear of them. She told other members of my family about the experience but chose to keep the strange sounds from me for whatever reason until I experienced them myself.

About three weeks later, I had fallen asleep in a room which we had converted to the living room at the base of the stairs while watching TV. Mom had turned the TV off but let me sleep there on the sofa and gone up to bed. I remember about 11:30 I heard a loud metallic clang coming from the wall next to the window. It sounded like someone had banged two large pipes together. The only thing on that wall was the old hot water radiator which didn't work, so I assumed something had happened outside and dozed off again. That's when I heard the sound of footsteps coming from the stairs. They were definitely footsteps and not the sound of wood creaking or stretching. The stairs had a carpet runner from top to bottom that was held tight by brass bars at the base of each step. The sound was much more like the dull thud of shoes or boots on carpet. It also didn't sound like the steps touched each stair, they were loud to start then faded to silence just to hear them again around midway up, then again at the top. They then turned, walked over the room I was in and down the hall toward my bedroom. I wasn't so much afraid as confused. I remember thinking that it couldn't be real or that I was still asleep.

I sat up against the corner of the sofa and listened for what seemed like forever before I heard it again. More footsteps from the bottom of the stairs going up, this time louder as if someone heavier or with a heavy healed boot were walking up the stairs. They went up, turned and walked down the hall before stopping. I waited again, listening for any little sound before finally walking out and checking the stairs. There was no one there, the front door was bolted and there were no open windows. I woke my mom and told her what had happened but of course, she already knew.

As work restoring the house continued, more strange things happened in what I call the horror house. Over time we both simply got used to the sounds of walking at night. Both of us have joked about it numerous times. House guests, friends and family all heard and saw strange things there during my high school years. I'll post additional stories if anyone is interested in the future. And the house? It's almost fully restored, Mom still lives there and the footsteps continue.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Zack84, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

cutiepiecharlie (17 posts)
11 years ago (2013-03-10)
my friend Lucy lives in a Victorian house and when she looks through the window that was there since the Victorians lived there she can see a family that looks like they was Victorians 😨
Zack84 (8 stories) (32 posts)
11 years ago (2013-03-08)
Wow, thank you everyone for the supportive comments. I'm glad you found it interesting. I've submitted a second story although with the current backlog I'm not sure when it will get posted.

The history was easier than I thought it would be to uncover. The county historical society was a great help as well. When the house was constructed originally it got newspaper coverage as it was the home of a local hero so to speak. He had started as a laborer, worked his way up to foreman and eventually senior management at the Powder Works. The explosion got major media play, as far away as the New York Times. His death and the circumstances around it were reported locally along with his obituary. The house then got a reputation for bad luck after both of the next two families to buy the house died there.

From there it was a matter of looking through deed transfers, tax rolls and obituaries. The historical society had also kept their eyes on the house since the early 90s when a developer wanted to buy it and the surrounding properties for a Kmart. They had some amazing photos of the house when it was new.
Argette (guest)
11 years ago (2013-03-08)
What Val said! And I agree with BadJuuJuu, too, as I was totally captivated by this story.

Interesting history: How did you uncover it?
valkricry (49 stories) (3267 posts) mod
11 years ago (2013-03-08)
I enjoyed this very much, and I agree with BadJuuJuu - it does sound like a residual haunting. I also would like to hear more!
Belle-La-Vie (3 posts)
11 years ago (2013-03-08)
Very captivating! You have a wonderful writing style, can't wait to hear more 😊
Zack84 (8 stories) (32 posts)
11 years ago (2013-03-08)
BadJuuJuu, thank you for your comments! Yes, there were plenty of what you might consider intelligent haunting events. My mother and I both agree this sound is most likely a residual haunting. Although it happens at different times and days it would always follow the same path and the time between the sets of footsteps was always about two minutes.

Since the house was completed in 1891 to about 1988 there have been 14 deaths in the house that I can find. We feel it's most likely one of two couples who died in the house, one in 1912 and one in 1919. Both died during influenza outbreaks in the city. It may also be related to a father and son who died in the house after being critically injured in an explosion at the California Powder Works in 1898. They were brought to the house just to die from their wounds. That was the same family who had the house built in the first place so that's always stuck in my mind.
BadJuuJuu (guest)
11 years ago (2013-03-08)
Please post more stories! This is the most interesting ghost story I've read in a long while. It sounds like residual activity, like starting renovations hit the play button. Has any intelligent activity happened there?

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