The William Westerfeld House sits on the corner of Fulton and Scott Streets in San Francisco, CA. Anyone heading east up Fulton Street can tell you, as you come to the top of the hill at Alamo Square; this stunning, Gothic home is a sight to behold. It also happens to be one of the cities most haunted locations.
With its multiple metal finials surrounding the roof line, the tower at the top is one of the home’s most interesting features. At the same time, it makes you wonder why such a room was desired. Your interest is further piqued by the building's Gothic “Adams Family” look. The style is unique in its own right, and the building possesses a presence both foreboding and intriguing. It should be no surprise that the house has an interesting and dark past.
Passing The Infamous Westerfield House
As a native San Franciscan, I grew up passing by the Westerfeld House often. I always wondered about the history of it. It wasn’t until years later that I learned of the haunting tales that took place and its strange connection to the occult.
Constructed in 1889, William Westerfeld, a German baker, commissioned Henry Geilfuss, a well-known German architect (who built many Victorian homes and refined the iconic San Francisco style Victorians in the late 1800s) to build the mansion. The multilevel home was to be Westerfeld’s family residence. Unfortunately, he died only six years after its construction, and this is where the strange history of the house begins.
After William’s death in 1895, the home was acquired by John Mahoney, another prominent San Francisco figure, famous for contracting the building of San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel and the Palace Hotel. During Mahoney’s time of residence in the home, he entertained many famous guests, two of whom were Harry Houdini and radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi. It is said that the two spent time in the tower. It is there where Marconi transmitted the first radio signals on the west coast, and Houdini attempted to send telepathic messages to his wife across the Bay. One can only wonder if the energy from these activities paved the way for future events.
Night Club Shenanigans
In 1928, it was bought by Czarist Russians, where it became a community center. The basement was turned into the “Dark Eyes” nightclub, and the building as a whole became known as the “Russian Embassy.” It is documented that a Russian colonel was murdered inside the residence during a fight over a woman.
In 1948, the home was converted into multiple apartments and housed African-American musicians who played in local Jazz Clubs. Furthermore, In 1967, the occult filmmaker Kenneth Anger leased the property. In an interview in 2018, Anger stated that he bought the home because he felt it was “Already heavily charged with demonic energy”, and he confirmed that he did perform satanic rituals in the tower.
The Occult At Westerfield House
While Anger lived in the home, he filmed several occult classics, including the notable “Invocation Of My Demon Brother” and “Lucifer Rising”. A frequent guest of Anger was Anton LaVey (who is said to have also lived inside the home at one point), founder of The Church Of Satan. It’s believed that LaVey used to hold Black Mass in the tower where he opened doors into the spiritual realm.
Adding to the list of residence who practiced the occult, a member of the Charles Manson family, Bobby Beausoleil (who was a follower of Anton LaVey), lived in the home for a time. It is thought that he brought Charles Manson to the house.
In a 2018 interview with Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans, Anger stated that it was not him nor LaVey who painted a pentagram on the floor in the tower. But that it had already been present when he moved in.
With the dark, heavily charged atmosphere swirling around the Westerfeld House, one can’t help but wonder if the rituals that Anger and LaVey performed indeed opened the doors to hell. Could Beausoleil, a notable musician at the time, have been influenced by demonic entities to carry out a gruesome murder for the Manson Family?
The ceiling in the tower had been removed by Anger and LaVey, exposing the rafters. In an attempt to magnify their forces, a parabolic microphone was hung from the rafters, pointed toward the sky, intensifying their ceremonies as they opened doors to hell and called upon and invited demons into the house.
To this day, residents of the home report that strange happenings do occur within the walls of the Westerfeld House. Unexplained noises are common. Seeing figures and disturbing nightmares are a regular occurrence also being reported. One resident stated in a Ghost Adventures interview that, “You’re never alone here.”
One disturbing regular occurrence is the rapid change in people's behavior upon entering the home. It seems that people become influenced by an unseen force, some becoming violent. Others delving into addiction.
Other residents of the home have expressed that though they regularly feel a strange presence, hear unexplainable noises, and sometimes feel uneasy, they do not feel in danger and continue to live on the property.
Today, the home is owned by businessman Jim Siegel, who has poured love into the house, restoring it and preserving its character. The Westerfeld House is now on the National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco. Siegel has said that he always knew he would someday own the “Adams Family” looking house and had been fascinated with it since childhood. When he purchased the property in 1986, he immediately had Buddhist Priests bless every corner of the home. Although he claims that he’s never seen a ghostly apparition, he has stated that he's experienced one paranormal occurrence in which his bed shook violently while he lay watching TV one night. And it was not due to any earthquakes.