Much to the chagrin of my coworkers, I am a believer in the paranormal and often talk about ghostly encounters. I’m usually met with a lot of eye rolling and scoffs. Fortunately for me though, and others who enjoy this type of stuff, Shawnee is stock full of ghostly tales and haunted buildings. In honor of the Halloween season, here are some haunted places in the area to check out…if you dare.
Originally a dry goods store and later a boarding house, the Ritz was built in 1897. The Ritz became a theatre in 1926 and is possibly haunted by Leo Montgomery, the projectionist who worked there for many decades. Leo died of a heart attack during a movie and voices and flickering lights have been said to be caused by him. Another ghost, named Amelia, also haunts the Ritz. She is believed to have died when the Ritz was still a boarding house. I recently had the opportunity to take tag along on a paranormal investigation of the Ritz when Investigating Oklahoma’s Paranormal and Tulsa News Channel 8 came to town. Not only did I get to see the tools they use for investigations but also got to take part in one in the auditorium of the Ritz. I can’t say that we came away with concrete evidence that Leo and Amelia walk the halls but there were definitely some spooky sounds and shadows.
Downtown Shawnee seems to be a particularly active spot for spooky activity. In addition to the Ritz Theatre, there have been experiences at other downtown businesses including The Fifth Element, a building near the Santa Fe Depot, and the KIRC Radio Station. There have been numerous spooky sightings in the KIRC building over the years. The basement is especially active and there have been reports of seeing a man and woman in the area. People have also reported being scratched while touring the building. Experience it for yourself during the ghost tours that are offered every year during Boo on Bell for $10 per person.
Grisso Mansion, Seminole
On ten acres in Seminole sits the haunted Grisso Mansion. Built in the 1920s by Doc Grisso for his wife and two children, the mansion features a sprawling 26 rooms, creating an elaborate maze of a home. While digging the basement for the mansion, the body of a Native American boy was found. Children who visit the mansion have been known to encounter the ghost of this little boy. There have been numerous reports on hearing children laughing and playing, lamps turning on and off, and shadowy figures moving through the halls. Candlelight tours of the Grisso Mansion are offered for $10 and last approximately an hour. Spots must be reserved by calling 405-382-2445.
Sacred Heart Mission & Cemetery, Konawa
The Sacred Heart Mission was originally built in 1876 but the site burned down in 1901. The mission was rebuilt but ruined structures are still visible today. There have been several spooky encounters reported on the site, including seeing ghostly priests and monks walking the premises, animals vanishing into thin air, and strange floating lights. Visitors have also reported hearing cries, screams, and growls in the nearby cemetery.
Note: If you do decide to explore any haunted building or site, make sure that you have proper permission! Never visit a site after hours or if it is explicitly forbidden. Safety first! Trespassing is frowned upon by both ghosts and landowners.