Westerfeld House’s creepy past investigated by Zak Bagans and Ghost Adventures crew

Zak Bagans and the Ghost Adventures crew on the front steps of the Westerfeld House
The Westerfeld House in San Francisco has seen a host of interesting inhabitants. Pic credit: Travel

Located at 1198 Fulton Street, the Westerfeld House in San Francisco has a history of housing quite a few different characters from bakers to jazz musicians to those who practice the occult.

The home’s current owner had the property blessed by Buddhist monks and now, Zak Bagans and the Ghost Adventures crew are taking a look at the historic home’s spooky past and are looking to see if they can find proof of paranormal activity.

The impressive 28-room mansion was built back in 1889 by William Westerfeld, a German-born confectioner who owned a string of bakeries. Legend has it that William built the house in an effort to one-up his brother, who had a large house in the Nob Hill district of San Francisco.

After Westerfeld died in 1895, ownership of his home changed hands many times. Initially, it was purchased by John Mahony of Mahony Brothers, noted for building famous San Francisco hotels after the 1906 earthquake.

In 1928, Westerfeld House was purchased by Czarist Russians who turned a ballroom on the ground floor into a nightclub called Dark Eyes. During that time, locals referred to the house as the “Russian Embassy.”

In the 1940s, ownership changed again. The Westerfeld House was converted into an apartment building with 14 units. The home became known for housing African American jazz musicians who played in the local jazz clubs nearby.

In the 1960s, ownership of the Westerfeld House changed a couple of times. First, Charles Fracchia purchased the home and a 50-person commune called The Calliope Company moved in.

Just two years later, indie filmmaker Kenneth Anger moved in and started filming there. He wasn’t making just any sort of films though, often dealing in themes of Satanism and the occult.

Invocation of My Demon Brother was filmed in the Westerfeld House. The film starred Manson family member Bobby Beausoleil as well as Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey.

Charles Manson was said to have visited. Much of the house’s haunted history is attributed to what went on during this short time period.

In 1968, the historic home once again housed a commune when members of the Family Dog moved in. It was a popular spot and even saw visits from members of The Grateful Dead during this period.

The Westerfeld House saw more new owners and a scant attempt to remodel in the 1970s before the most recent owner came along in 1986. Jim Siegel owns the mansion now and has been working for decades to restore it.

The way in which Siegel “learned” that he would someday own the huge house is interesting. He explained to Curbed that during an acid trip, Siegel envisioned himself owning the house that he loved so much and during that same trip, figured out exactly how he would do it.

From that point, Siegel embarked on a career in real estate development, building his net worth and buying power until 1986 when the home went up for auction. He was able to quickly sell three of his other properties in order to barely win a bid for Westerfeld House for $775K.

It was at that point that Siegel began renovating the home, working to restore the masterpiece to its former glory. Creeped out by the home’s history of the occult, he says that he didn’t start working until the home had been blessed by Buddhist monks.

Did that blessing rid the house of spirits left behind by the colorful cast of inhabitants? That’s where Zak Bagans and his Ghost Hunters crew come in.

Zak and company explore the history of the Westerfeld House and explore the expansive dwelling to see if any of the old haunts are still hanging around.

Ghost Adventures airs on Saturdays at 9/8c on Travel. 

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