Sitting demurely in the oldest part of Seattle, the suburb known as Georgetown, this Queen-Anne style mansion has a storied history and dark past in the wilder days of Washington state. While it’s currently a private residence, you can still enjoy the magnificent architecture, the brightly painted walls, and the stories of more than a few former residents and employees who never left. Today, we’re exploring the Gessner Mansion, more famously known as the “Georgetown Castle.”
Built in 1902 by a wealthy blackjack dealer, Peter Gessner, for whom the castle was named, but it wasn’t a private residence back then. The section of town it stands in was once known as the redlight district of the growing city, and while the Victorian style mansion stood out for its unique construction, it was also a popular brothel during those days. Gessner wouldn’t get to enjoy his masterpiece for very long, reported to have committed suicide in 1903 on the premises. Legend says he was distraught after his wife left him for a chicken farmer. He may very well be the first of the specters to move into the home for good, haunting the second floor and making himself known throughout the home.
While Gessner was able to get the brothel and saloon up and running, the legacy of the building continued well into the 1920s, offering services and good times for the patrons during the era of prohibition. Legends tell of a former employee, named either Sarah or Mary depending on who’s telling the story, who met her end in a violent way in the brothel. She’s said to appear in a white nightgown occasionally covered in her own blood, with fiery red hair and a reported temper to match. It’s said she was either strangled by a patron (who happened to be a magician,) or was shot by a disgruntled pimp. Either way, it seems she’s not particularly happy in her afterlife, throwing things violently against walls and terrifying the guests who would visit the mansion.
Another spirit on the land of the castle includes a woman who is reported to have been Gessner’s niece, Sarah, locked away in the attic to keep her from her newborn baby after giving birth as an unwed mother during the blight of the Spanish Flu epidemic. Tragically, it’s also reported that this baby may have been thrown out of a window and buried on the property by an angry pimp, or even by Gessner himself. The baby’s wails of displeasure can be heard faintly on the wind in the sprawling back garden, and Sarah matches those wails with ones of agony coming from an empty attic.
Shortly after the Great Depression hit in Washington, it would be renovated and turned into a respectable establishment- a boarding house. It was occupied on and off throughout the 20th century by various colorful characters, even becoming the hub of a catering company in the 1980s. The home sat mostly abandoned for years until the current owners purchased the house in 2004 and began an expensive renovation before they moved into the haunted castle.
Unfortunately, you can’t visit the home without special permission, as it’s currently a private residence. However, you can certainly walk by, admire the architecture and bright melon color its currently painted, and maybe even see a ghost in one of the windows. Maybe the builder of the home, Gessner, watches from the second floor. Maybe Sarah’s cries can be heard from the attic, or the matching wails from her murdered infant. You might even glimpse fiery red hair in a window and see the slain woman who previously worked the red light in the mansion’s walls. Whatever you see at the Georgetown Castle, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.