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San Francisco Art Institute

Built in 1926 on the North slope of Russian Hill the San Francisco Art Institute rests upon grounds that once held the earthly remains of San Francisco's earliest residents. Its red-tiled roofs and ochre-colored walls distinguish it as a fine example of the Spanish Revival style of architecture.

All was quiet at the Art Institute for nearly 20 years until a student, working as a night watchmen and living in the bell tower to save money, began to experience the institute's strange nocturnal activities. The very first night, he was surprised to hear the street-level doors he had locked open and close. Waiting fearfully, he listened to footsteps slowly ascend three sets of stairs. The door to his room opened and closed, but he saw no one enter. Incidents similar to this occurred many times after but every time he investigated there was never anyone there and no sign as to the cause.

Over the years, a variety of manifestations, including eerie flickering lights and power tools mysteriously turning on and off, were reported by students and the public with decreasing frequency and the harmless ghost was thought to have drifted away.

That is until the bell tower was being renovated as a storage area in 1968. A series of near fatal accidents were blamed on the ghost and some construction workers quit because the site scared them.

In response to the incidents that year, a sťance was held in the tower with several prominent psychics. One saw a lost graveyard, and a historian later verified that an adjacent cemetery had indeed been demolished before the school was built.

click to enlarge


 These days, the tower is closed. The school says it's unsafe, citing seismic concerns, but we think there is a more paranormal reason. The ghosts of the San Francisco Art Institute don't want people in their tower.


For More Information

San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, California 94109 



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