By Garrett Estrada
Former Times Reporter
Published Oct. 30, 2015
Old buildings tend to make noise. creaking floorboards, screeching door hinges and the sounds that come along with near century old craftsmanship all make for a great atmosphere for creeping someone out. There’s a reason most movie haunted houses aren’t brand new apartments. But what about the noises that can’t be simply explained away? Is there something, or maybe even someone, still secretly walking the halls of Ely’s old buildings?
Most people would laugh at the idea but some locals have experienced things, seen and heard things, that they can’t explain.
Kathy Henry is one of those people. Back in the early 2000’s, her recollection of the date is hazy, Henry was working with several people to renovate parts of the Big Four Brothel in downtown Ely. While working in the basement to set up some electrical wiring, Henry claims that she heard noises coming from the first floor right above her. Though her memory of when the incident happened is unclear, what she felt at the time is still crystal clear years later.
“We were working in the basement and all of the sudden we heard footsteps on the floor above us. We were supposed to be the only people in the building so I ran up the stairs to the first floor to see who else was there, but there wasn’t anyone. It was completely empty,” Henry said.
Thinking maybe she was just hearing things, Henry returned to her work in the basement, but 10 minutes later the sound returned.
“It was distinctive. It wasn’t the sound of something going on at the mine or the wind or anything else, it was clearly footsteps,” Henry said.
She later learned that some believe that the Big Four was cursed by an angry wife a patron of the brothel who had passed away there.
Just a block down the road sits the empty Mr. G’s building alongside main street. Carol Lani said that she ran into a strange experience once while working on renovating the building in 2006.
“We had called in guys from AT&T to set up something for us on the second floor. The two men came down before they were finished with their work, faces totally pale. They said they had seen doors opening and closing by themselves. One of the two men refused to go back up, saying he would never go up there again,” Lani said.
While Lani said that she didn’t know of any supposed curses on the building, the second floor of Mr. G’s used to originally be a brothel as well, back when the building was called The Bank Club.
Lani’s son Chris, who runs the Ely Central Theater, is no stranger to second hand spooks either. In his first month operating the theater, one of his employees was left alone to clean the auditorium for a short period of time. While cleaning, Lani said that his employee told him that he saw a figure in the crying room, a separate soundproofed room of the theater for parents to take crying children during a film.
Assuming the figure was Chris, having returned unexpectedly early, the employee again went about his job of cleaning up after movie goers. As he worked his way closer to the crying room however, he got a better look at who or what was inside the room. Upon seeing it, he dropped his cleaning supplies, turned around and ran out of the theater.
Lani met him outside the building when he returned 15 minutes later.
“He told me he saw someone standing still with their arms crossed,” Lani said, relaying his former employees ghost story.
When he entered his business after hearing the story, he found nothing.
“This wasn’t some kid making something up. He was a trustworthy honor roll student. I don’t know what he saw but there wasn’t anyone inside the theater when I came back,” Lani continued.
But these three stories aren’t the only haunted happenings that have been reported in the area. In McGill, some patrons of the McGill club will tell story after story of how the building is haunted by those that have passed. Others will retell stories of the ghosts that dwell in the now sealed shut underground tunnels that connect the Hotel Nevada and Mr. G’s.
So this Halloween, if you hear a noise from somewhere you can’t see or a figure that disappears when you go to look for it, take solace in knowing that it’s probably nothing. And if it isn’t, then you’ll have one more story to add to Ely’s history of hauntings.