Tales of haunted houses are numerous, and seem to almost have a place lodged within out collective psyche. It seems that such cases have been with us since time unremembered, and the trope of the haunted creepy old house has been with us across cultures for some time. Some such places seem to be a bit more imbued with malevolent forces than others, with undeniably aggressive and evil powers seemingly at work for reasons we may never understand, and one of these is a very eerie old mansion in the state of California. It ticks all of the requisite boxes of creepy locale and dark and sinister history, and has become known as one of the most intensely haunted place the state has ever seen.
The whole spooky tale begins as many such stories do, with a creepy old house imbued with a dark history. Located in the scenic town of Clovis, California, and originally known as the Andrews Estate, this turn of the century stately mansion was built in 1902 by a local tycoon by the name of Anthony Andriotti as a private residence, and was in its day the epitome of opulence, 8,000 square feet featuring a ballroom, five bedrooms, and a swimming pool in the basement. After Andriotti’s sudden death in 1929, the house sat empty before it would eventually be purchased in 1935 and turn into the Hazelwood Sanitarium, where it served as the final destination for people with serious cases of tuberculosis, then becoming the Clovis Avenue Sanitarium in 1942, shifting from the living dead towards a hospital for the mentally ill and the insane.
It was during these years that it truly began gaining its reputation as an ominous place, with many stories of negligence, overcrowding, torment, murder, and death. Like many mental hospitals of the era, the Clovis Sanitarium was by all accounts akin to a sort of Hell on earth. Abuse and deaths were common here, with a purported “stream of bodies” picked up from where they were kept in the basement as a sort of makeshift morgue. Disease was also rampant here, conditions were filthy, and to be sent here was mostly seen as a sort of death sentence in the era, to the point that it earned the rather menacing nickname of “The Black Hole.” Despite this, the sanitarium would remain in operation right up to 1992 after which it was finally shuttered for good. It would then sit abandoned for many years before being purchased by an entrepreneur named Todd Wolfe, who planned to use the creepy old estate as a Halloween haunted house attraction called “Scream If You Can.” What he might not have realized at the time is that the place was already quite haunted enough already as it was.
There had been paranormal phenomena reported from the old Clovis Sanitarium from back in the days when it was abandoned. Urban explorers would report shadow figures and orbs of light, and police stated that there would often be calls made from the building even though it had no phone service and indeed no electricity. Wolfe reportedly experienced intense paranormal phenomena immediately after moving in, with anomalous noises, moving objects, and most frightening of all unseen hands that would roughly push, poke, or otherwise harass him. Others who visited the location also experienced all manner of weirdness as well, gaining what was now called Wolfe Manor a reputation as a very intensely haunted place, drawing in paranormal investigators from all over. One ghost hunter and researcher Michael Banti has said of his experiences there:
I had the chance to investigate it several times and something weird always happened. I’ve been touched before and no one was around me. I’ve been on the bottom floor and heard footsteps above when no one was up there. When I went up there I saw a shadowy figure go into a room. I went in to investigate but nothing was in there. And this was a back room so it wasn’t a light from a car outside or anything. I even checked and no new cars were outside. Also, the place had such a foreboding feeling. I think Clovis is a hotspot for all kinds of paranormal activity.
One of the most active locations of the estate was one called “Mary’s Room,” which features malevolent black blobs and a slimy, humanoid apparition that can be seen hunched over in a fetal position and is called “The Man Baby.” The basement where the bodies were once kept was also said to be intensely haunted, with the negative energy so bad there that most people could not stand to be there for more than a short time. There were also apparitions of child-like entities all about, and a hulking, demonic presence said to stalk the halls and which is said to have been very menacing and very pissed off, known to actually physically assault people or scare them so badly that they flee the place screaming. So intense was the activity here that for a long time locals would hang rosaries and crucifixes on the surrounding fence of the property. Such tales drew in all sorts of paranormal TV programs, including My Ghost Story, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, The Dead Files, and Mystery Quest. Very few have gone away unimpressed. For instance, during the investigation for Ghost Adventures all manner of weird stuff happened, with the crew experiencing cold spots, disembodied laughing, moaning, whistling, and crying, electronic equipment malfunctions, numerous ghostly voices recorded on EVP (electronic voice phenomena), unexplained flashes, shadowy apparitions, being grabbed by invisible hands, and myriad physical ailments such as headaches, unexplained numbness, chills, and nausea, and a purple humanoid figure captured on UV camera.
Despite all of these terrifying phenomena, Wolfe had been planning to turn the estate into a hotel bed and breakfast, but alas it was not meant to be. In 2014, the city of Clovis deemed the historical building "unsafe to occupy” and had it demolished. Since the house was gone, the paranormal activity has seemingly ceased, and we are left to wonder about it all. One criticism of the whole story is that Wolfe was a business man and showman, and that most of these tales were related by him personally, so was it just tall tales to drum up interest in the location for financial gain? How much of it was true, and if the tales of haunting are real, then why were these forces tied to this location? Seeing as how the estate is long gone, we can only guess at such things, and speculate as to what mysteries this location holds.