Everyone has felt it: that little chill up your spine when walking through the dark; the inexplicable goosebumps that appear on your arms when you’re alone digging through the attic. Whether or not you believe in ghosts or spirits, the odds are that you have experienced a heightened sense of vigilance for what seems to be no particular reason. But for some Benicians, it is certain that this chilling sensation comes from a particular place: the spirit world.

We live in Paranormal Benicia.

Tucked on the corner of First & West E Street, in the old Jorgenson’s Saloon building, Angel Heart 4 You sits quaintly with inviting signs and historical charm.

Passing by, you might catch a glimpse of windchimes and crystals. This historic building draws visitors inside and allegedly, not all of them are living. Upon meeting with Angel Heart 4 You’s psychic medium, Chris Hernandez, and co-owner, Lia Valenzuela, the stories tied to this building began to unfold. 

In the 19th century, Jorgensen’s Saloon occupied the entire building that now houses Angel Heart 4 You and several other small businesses. It is rumored that the upstairs was inhabited by sex workers and frequented by their customers. On those same floors there is a burn mark etched into the hardwood from an old iron. It is believed this mark is from one of the workers from the Jorgensen era tending to her clothes. While this physical imprint may serve as evidence of the building’s history, Hernandez, Valenzuela, and owner Carol Mayer believe that its history surfaces in paranormal ways. 

Ghosts and spirits are said to inhabit the building. This has not only been confirmed by multiple mediums, but with puzzling encounters from many people. However, Hernandez explains, “ghosts and spirits are different.” Ghosts, often unaware that they are dead, frequently remain in the place of their deaths and are experiencing confusion, fear, or other upset. They remain earthbound until whatever internal conflict is resolved. Spirits, on the other hand, have realized their ascension into the spirit world. They are able to come and go as they please.

There are two noteworthy paranormal inhabitants inside of the walls of First & E: a spirit named George and a young ghost by the name of Mark.

As the owner of old Jorgenson’s Saloon, George is a playful spirit with ties to the building. Valenzuela and others believe that he resides in the old elevator of the building. This claim is partly due to an experience had by Valenzuela: one evening while closing, she caught a strong whiff of whiskey. The source of the smell appeared to be coming from the elevator. Valenzuela contacted Hernandez, who then did an investigation and found high levels of activity close to George’s quarters. As for Mark, the young ghost, it is believed that he felt a pull towards Carol Mayer’s warmth. Believed to be no more than nine years old, he was naturally drawn to maternal energies. Mayer was known to leave small toys throughout the store for him to play with. Valenzuela is certain that Mark indulged in his childish tendencies: she found angel figurines turned around and even once-scattered balloons methodically placed behind the counter after leaving them overnight. Before departing the building as a spirit, it is believed that he resided in the closet near the entrance of the shop. 

Why would entities from the spirit world occupy enclosures like old elevators and closets?

Hernandez explains that spirits and ghosts are drawn to areas that are not frequented by the living. In fact, they are likely to inhabit the highest and lowest points of buildings. Attics and basements are typical spots for the non-living, as spirits and ghosts find comfort in calm places.

Though one may be more likely to have a paranormal experience when in the calm of solitude, there are times when these encounters happen in perfect sight amongst the company of others.

As many Benicians have heard, the old buildings on First Street are full of haunting tales. Only a few blocks down from Angel Heart 4 You is a restaurant with a history of paranormal encounters: Sailor Jack’s. Once the home of a storied small business operator, Captain Blyther, and later a brothel, this building is said to house several paranormal entities from the past. James Morgan, the co-owner of Sailor Jack’s, shared a supernatural experience he once had last spring: Upstairs, he watched a lone customer order a top shelf margarita at the far corner of the bar. He was “dressed like a stereotypical pimp” with “flashy jewelry included.” The man was having an aggressive and demanding conversation on the phone. He leaned back several feet from the bar, and Morgan saw the untouched drink tip over before his eyes. Morgan believes that this man’s suspected occupation angered a spirit who had experienced the wrath of abuse as a sex worker in that very building. Much like Hernandez explained, ghosts remain earthbound because of internal conflict. 

Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, we can all attest to inexplicable phenomena. Next time you’re in the quiet of the basement, remember that you may not be alone after all.