Sarah’s Story: The lady in blue at Hill Street Café
As seen in The Osider Magazine, September/October 2016, Vol. 3 Issue 5.
Words by Amber Lussier. Photos by Zach Cordner. Historical Research and Images by Kristi Hawthorne (Oceanside Historical Society)
The two-story Victorian style home on the 101 has been a staple of Oceanside for nearly 130 years, but before it was the home to Hill Street Café, it was home to a woman who still resides there in spirit.
In 1888, the home was originally located at 602 North Clementine Street and was owned by Martin S. and Sarah Weitzel. Martin was a doctor and druggist, which provided their family of twelve children with a stable life. It wasn’t until 1889, when Dr. Weitzel passed away, that sorrow struck the family and surrounding community. Sarah continued to live in the home until it was sold in 1904. She relocated to Los Angeles, but passed away in 1906 at the age of 62.
Between the years of 1904 and 1923, the property was sold many times, but in 1924 Peder and Martha Larsen purchased the home. Together they had five children. Peder was a blacksmith and operated a machine shop until his tragic death in 1931. His death was due to an automobile accident on Mission Road, which was described as a shocking head-on collision. A total of three people died as a result of the accident, including Peder. His wife, Martha, was severely injured, but survived and remained living in the home until her death in 1964.
Although an entire lifetime separated these women, both experienced the loss of their husbands while living in the house. However, it’s believed that one of these women still resides inside the home that’s now known as Hill Street Café.
“There’s stuff going on like doors slamming, and we’ve had furniture and artwork moved around during the night.” said Dan Callaway, the owner of Hill Street Café. “The previous owners said the house was haunted and I didn’t know if that was true, but we’ve experienced some things.” The most popular story involves a woman wearing a light blue Victorian style dress. She’s been seen walking through the home on multiple occasions. “We just want to be good stewards of the home,” added Dan.
When we planned the paranormal investigation, we had two goals in mind—to be respectful of the home’s history, and to collect evidence on what’s truly happening inside the café. We’re strong believers of “debunking,” or providing reasonable explanations for the things people are experiencing.
Our paranormal team included Pascal van den Berg (investigator), Jace Gardenier (video/monitoring), and Zach Cordner (photographer and Creative Director/Co-Founder of The Osider). And I’m the “empath,” which means I’m able to sense and interpret energy that others may not be in tune with.
The investigation was conducted the night of Saturday, August 20, 2016. Before we started the hunt, we closed all of the windows, secured the doors, turned off the ceiling fans, set up our cameras, and flipped off the lights throughout the old Victorian house.
We conducted our investigation upstairs, where many of the sightings allegedly occurred. Things started off slow. Our K2 meters were not detecting anything significant, so we decided to use a piece of new equipment—the Spirit Box. This is an ITC (Instrumental Trans Communication) device that scans different radio frequencies to create “white noise.” Many within the paranormal community believe the Spirit Box allows spirits to vocalize and communicate with the living. Although we spent a significant amount of time on the second floor, we didn’t experience any paranormal activity.
We discovered the wood floors caused the furniture to vibrate when someone walked down the hallway, so this could definitely explain furniture being moved or repositioned. Our K2 meters also detected a high electromagnetic field in the west and south bedrooms, which appears to be attributed to the old electrical wiring that’s present inside the home.
It wasn’t until my feet landed on the main floor, that I picked up the presence of a single energy source or spirit. I was instantly pulled to the front porch. I had a nagging sense of someone sitting at the table near the north door, so I pulled out a chair and sat at the same table. Almost instantly, I felt the energy fade away. After a few minutes, I zeroed in on another table located on the front porch. We set up our equipment and started to document. What we were about to encounter would change the entire course of the investigation.
We asked if there was anyone present who’d like to speak with us. After a few small bleeps on the radar, we embarked on a lengthy Q&A session that involved us asking for previous owners to step forward and communicate with us.
One by one, we went down the list and asked for these people by name and also by describing the circumstances that surrounded their deaths, but our meters didn’t move. We purposely saved the woman in blue for last. According to the Oceanside Historical Society, the woman’s description was very close to the original owner Sarah Weitzel.
“Sarah Weitzel, are you here with us?” The moment this question was asked, both K2 meters spiked to red (or the maximum level). Through a series of questions, we were able to piece together a complete sentence from who we believe is Sarah.
As our questions continued, we found ourselves getting off track, but each time we asked, “Sarah, are you still with us?” the K2 meters would spike to red and stay there for many seconds. We asked this question a total of five times and each time we received a prompt response. These intervals didn’t seem to carry a pattern or be triggered by other equipment.
When we started to notice Sarah fading away, we powered up the Spirit Box. “Sarah, you can use this device to talk to us … are you trying to use it?” Both K2 meters spiked to red.
“Sarah can we (the living) see you?” At that moment, a woman’s voice could be heard through the Spirit Box saying, “Oh, yes.”
“Sarah, is it a struggle to communicate with us like this?” Again, both K2 meters spiked to red and held for several seconds.
That was the last question we were able to ask her before she faded away for the last time. But before Sarah left us, she was able to share other information, including a complete sentence by using our iPad and the K2 meters in tandem:
“Let the community know I want them to remember my family who lived in this home.”
Sarah was the only spirit we made contact with that night, but it was unlike any encounter we’ve experienced as a team. She came through clearly and seemed to have purpose. Her energy felt very content, peaceful, and intelligent, but I couldn’t help but get the sense that she’s lonely.
Next time you pass Hill Street Café, take a few minutes to appreciate the beauty and history of the home. It deserves to be appreciated, cherished, and cared for—just like the lady in blue.