Built in 1908 by Chester A. Thorne, this 27, 000 square foot manor is of the Gothic Tudor style and is the only one of its kind on the west coast. Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, and the first president of National Bank of Tacoma (later National Bank of Washington), built this home for his wife. Since the construction many notable guests have stayed within the beautiful brick walls. Both President William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt are just two to mention.
Pieces of this castle, like the staircase and stained glass, date as far back as 400 years. Construction took three years to complete, from 1908 to 1911, with many of the materials, including the brick, oak paneling, oak staircase and the medieval stained glass coming from a castle in Europe. Mr. Thorne spent a substantial amount of time, and money, collecting the glass from the 15th to the 17th centuries. These artifacts were previously owned by a Duke who spent 40yrs collecting them.
We had a chance to stay at the Thornewood Castle on Monday, October 24th, 2005; two days after our wedding date. My husband and I started our group in that very same month, with only two cameras, two small dictation tape recorders, and big ideas surrounding the two of us. Although we had been investigating two years prior, with various groups in our state, we did not become official until this date. We like to keep it simple, our anniversary for our wedding is October 22nd, 2005, and therefore we chose to have our group's anniversary October 22nd as well. We remained a "mom and pop" paranormal team for approximately a year, and then we began to build and expand. Today we have a few close core members: Curtis Gibson, Nikki Henderson, Joe Heithe, Julie Destefano, Kate McClure, Kristin Reeck, and Steven Johnston.
Mrs. Deanna Robinson, Thornewood's current owner, held a Candle Light Mystery Tour on the evening of October 24th, 2005; what better way to have a Honeymoon than with spirits, candles and tales? We joined in for an investigative styled tour from the basement to the old top floor living quarters built for the servants. The tour extended out into the secret garden and surrounding grounds of the Castle.
The tour started with a fabulous dinner held in the formal dining room, at 7PM. My husband and I, David and Regan Vacknitz, observed a few other guests present for these evenings' events. There were two ladies, from Canada, one single lady venturing out to complete a desire to stay at the castle, and a reporter for the Tacoma Home and Garden magazine. We discussed why we were there over a display of aromas, sites, and textures to make any palate salivate with desires. While we ate we were educated on some of the history of the castle, the past and current owners, and the story of "Rose Red: Stephen King..."
After supper, with the plates being cleared, and as the rich desserts began digesting in our gullets, we gathered our equipment, and ventured out. We started in the basement where we learned of the local Native American tribes that blessed the castle. In the past, the tribes used this land as their annual gathering to come together, trade, and share with one another. One of the oddest things to learn of the castle was the story behind the wishbone shaped "good luck charms..." The story told was that during some construction in 1910s, some of the Native Americans working on the castle was believed to have left small good luck totems in the shape of wishbones throughout the basement of the Castle. To this day, the wishbones can be found sporadically and intentionally placed.
We moved to the entrance level of the castle, where we learned of the first spirit to be seen walking amongst the living. Beneath the grand stair case is a small, almost unnoticeable, restroom. Strategically placed the bathroom is almost incognito with the rest of the rich grained wood. This is where the story of Cadwallader Colden Corse began. Cadwallader was married to Thorne's daughter, Anna. They lived in the castle just shortly after the death of Thorne. One evening the neighborhood was privy to two ambulances carrying Cadwallader away from the home.
Seems that Cadwallader was shot in the head by a rifle, survived, and to this day, no one really knows the reality of what happened. It is attributed to him that a spirit walks from that bathroom into the grand fireplace room. No one knows for sure, but speculation states, it was an attempted suicide on his part.
We continued throughout the rest of the castle. Hearing tales of books moving, foot steps, distant disembodied voices and smells. We viewed each room, learned the history of who stayed, lived and loved in each. We came upon the bridal suite, used by brides getting married at the castle. We heard a fascinating story of a residual haunting in this room.
On that one day in a woman's life where she feels like a queen, how suiting to be married in a castle. In the Bridal Suite room, once the betrothed is dressed, adorned and ready, while peering in to the full length mirror, common reports of a woman in period clothing appears behind the bride to be. When the startled bride turns around, the apparition disappears.
We continue throughout the castle, ending on the third floor. This is where my husband and I spent the evening, in the "Rose Red" suite, beautifully located on the third floor. The Rose Red was a beautiful combination of antique and red décor. Down the hall from us was our exquisite bathroom, with a large soaker claw foot tub, delectably scented soaps, and little bits of heaven in terry cloth. Further down the hall was originally built as servant's quarters.
Another common haunting complaint was that of servant's moving about in their quarters, when there has not been servants employed for many years. This is where our first abnormal event takes place.
Before we get to our amazing event, we take a walk out to the secret gardens, and meander around the grounds. While we were out with the small intimated crowd, we heard Deanna disclose that she has never felt a negative vibe from the castle, only positive and protection. While she is talking about the castle being protected by angles, I take pictures around the garden statuary. My best ecto shot to date was from the Thornewood Castle. To us, and to Deanna the owner, it looks like an angel, with wide spread wings. Her head is bowed, her arms are folded in front of her, and she's amazing!
We finish with the gardens, and head to our guest rooms. We were the only guests staying on the third floor, two doors down from the servant's quarters. There were three other guests staying on the lower leveled floors, but with the vast sizing of this beautiful castle, we would not have been able to hear them scream, run or any other noise, let alone talk. With them being such a distance away, we would not have been able to hear their alarm clocks.
We finished putting equipment away and crawled into our comfortable bed; my ever so enthusiastic and adventurous husband was asleep before he hit the pillow. I lay away, taking in the air, the sounds around me and just mentally reviewing the evening's events. My event to end my evening happened like this.
I felt the air chill, equating it to the crisp Washington Autumn air, but realizing the windows were closed. I saw movement to the left of me, and watched as the sheer gauzy curtain covering the closet door billowed out as if a person were exiting the walk in. I watched a man, no older than early 30s, slacks, white shirt unbuttoned at the sleeve and hanging loose, but tucked into his slacks, and covered with a black vest, also buttoned, walk around the foot of the bed. He looked pale, like the high autumn moon illuminate him perfectly creating an ethereal hue. He was of a tall and thin built stature, with dark clean and close cut hair, that came to subtle sideburns around his chin and ears. He continued to walk around the bed, not aware of my presence, come to my side of the bed, sit in the chair next to me, turn and look directly at me, only to vanish slowly like something out of a Scooby Doo cartoon.
Is the Thornewood Haunted, you may ask? Well for this one time novice and green spectral detective, it definitely was that night.
Co Founder - A.P.A.R.T. Of Washington