Haunted History

The Oxford Saloon Has a Haunted History

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The gem of historic Snohomish is the Oxford Saloon. It was built in 1900 and for a decade was known as Blackman’s Dry Goods store. It then became a saloon, and over the years it has changed owners and uses, but each owner incorporated “Oxford” in its name.

When it was remodeled as a saloon the owners added vestibule to the entrance, with a stairway leading to several rooms on the second floor. These were supposed to be boarding house rooms, but there are rumors that a prominent local businesswoman named Kathleen (or Katherine), rented them as a high class bordello.

She did not go into the saloon, but kept an office at the local Eagle’s Lodge, where she made reservations for her high-toned clientele.

Over the years, the Oxford Saloon was often the scene of violence, especially around the basement, a men’s card room and the bar. One well-documented killing was that of a policeman, named Henry. He was a regular at the Oxford and may have moonlighted as a bouncer. One night there was a fight, and when Henry attempted to break it up, he was knifed and died in the melee.

Henry seems to have stuck around, and actually enjoys certain aspects of his ghosthood. He hangs out around the stairs leading to the basement and has been seen many times in the ladies’ restroom. Seen and felt, as many women report being pinched by him. However, Henry always disappears when confronted.

The second floor of the Oxford is now rented out as offices, but at least three ghosts seem to remain from the Oxford’s darker days. One is a man in a bowler hat, and the others are two women. Some people believe one is Kathleen, who

Oxford Saloon Snohomish - Haunted History - Ghost Stories

Haunted History

eventually lived upstairs. She is seen as an older woman, dressed in a purple dress with purple bows. The other woman is Amelia, one of Kathleen’s girls, Oxford Saloon Snohomish - Haunted - Ghostswho had been forced into prostitution. Her dead body was found curled up in her closet, and no one was sure whether she committed suicide, or was murdered.

Beginning in 2005, the Washington State Ghost Society performed several investigations at the Oxford Saloon. Weird Washington spoke with Russ and Sandy, who were members of WSGS at the time, but went on to found FOG Paranormal.

Sandy and Russ investigated the second floor first, turning on their tape recorder, and started up the stairs. At the time, Sandy said, “Russ, take some pictures.” When the tape was played back later on, they heard a male voice echo hers. A few seconds later, they heard a child’s voice laughing or crying in the background.

The manager gave them keys to all of the offices on the top floor. They tried several times to open the rooms, only to have the keys fall out of the lock, as if some unseen hand pulled it out before Sandy could turn it. Eventually they managed to open some of the rooms. While this was going on, on the playback, they heard a voice say, “I dropped the keys to my room.” It was as if they were being mocked. According to legend, Amelia lived and died in Room 6. Nothing happened in that room during the investigation. (Later Sandy and Russ would rent the room as an office, and reported the furniture being rearranged in it from time to time when they weren’t present.)

They entered Room 4 and tried talking to any spirits. They later found they got a response: a strong male voice that spoke directly into the microphone and said, “I am the one.” As they left the second floor, they were followed by a voice that gave them a not so fond farewell, saying, “You’ll die.”

Russ and Sandy met two other investigators downstairs and after some conversation, they went down to the lower bar, and then to the basement. At the bottom of the basement stairs, Russ took ten pictures of the stairs with his digital camera. One of the pictures shows what looks like a man standing in front of the camera, looking up the stairs. Another shows the man turning toward the camera. Because the photos were digital, a professional photographer analyzed them and determined it was unlikely that the picture had been altered after it was taken.

At the end of the investigation, one group member used the bathroom. As he was relieving himself, he heard a man’s voice whisper in his ear, “Get out!” Remembering to zip up his pants, the man did as he was asked, and in the future he always remembered to go before he arrived at the Oxford Saloon.

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Established in 1910 – History of the Oxford

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Arthur M. Blackman (1865-1929) was born into the grocery business side of the Blackman clan from Maine, but who settled in Oakland, California. Arthur arrived in Snohomish on Christmas Day 1885.Oxford Saloon Snohomish - Ghosts

It took him only two years to open his first grocery store on the northwest corner of Avenue C and First Street.

Four summers later he built this large store boasting of 20,000 items in stock. The handsome structure designed and built by J. S. White in the fashionable false-front architectural style cost Arthur $5,000 according to newspaper accounts. White also built Arthur’s family home, still standing on the southeast corner of Avenue D and Fourth Street.

Arthur served as the city’s postmaster for several years and was elected to the county council in 1914.

During Prohibition this building was the Oxford Pool Room. It was not used as drinking establishment until World War II


Photo Courtesy of the Snohomish Historical Society

Blackmans store. ca. 1890