A photo taken during a previous paranormal investigation that appears to capture “Kathleen” walking around the basement bar.
“There is no employee who has worked here who has not experienced an inexplicable phenomenon, ranging from hearing footsteps, seeing glasses or furniture, seeing things directly or feeling physically touched,” said Craig Swanson. Owner of the Oxford Saloon.
Since its construction in 1890, the Snohomish 1st Street building has overseen various facilities that have left a dark history, including 10 deaths on its property. Prostitution, gambling, drinking and murder, just a few words to describe The Oxford’s past and present life.
Mr. Swanson has spent many nights alone in the bar, but sometimes he’s not so sure that he’s really alone. “It’s an old wooden building so it has a lot of movement and a lot of streams, but overall you always feel like you are never alone in this place,” said Swanson.
Staff also agreed with Swanson’s claims. Some would perceive ambient noise in the building that would make them feel like steps or doors opening and closing. Before Swanson and his family bought the bar in 2005, they didn’t know about the history of the building until it was taken over.
“I didn’t believe in ghosts before I bought the bar, but people were talking about it being haunted and I definitely turned it down right away,” said Swanson. “After being here for so long, I have the feeling that the building itself has an energy.”
The building is divided into three levels. The top floor was once a high-end brothel / brothel that consisted of multiple rooms for the lonely men of Snohomish. To the left of the main vestibule to the entrance of the salon on the ground floor, the door to the staircase on the upper floor can be seen.
The brothel was run by a woman named Madam Kathleen. Unfortunately she found her death in the bathtub upstairs. Several stories explain how she died. Some say she was beheaded by an angry lover in the tub, others say she took her own life. However, the result remains the same, her body was found lifeless in the white claw-foot bathtub in the bathroom at the top of the stairs. The exact same bathtub is still on the upper floor today. Maybe that’s why her mind is still roaming the haunted halls, wearing a purple dress with purple bows. You can see Kathleen herself in the main restaurant downstairs, she is the mannequin in a purple dress and black hair hanging from the ceiling.
A photo taken during a previous paranormal investigation that appears to capture the ghost of “Henry”, the cop who was stabbed to death to end a fight on the stairs to the basement bar.
Another suspicious death was a woman who was allegedly forced into prostitution by Kathleen. Her name was Amelie. She was found with a broken neck in the closet of room six upstairs. Their death has never been solved, they don’t know whether it was murder or suicide. An Oxford employee named Rebecca told me about Amelia and the story of her death. Rebecca explained how in 2019 a gentleman from England came to the restaurant to investigate the haunted story. His mission was to find out why the ghosts were still there after all these years. He asked a question and turned on an audio recorder to see if he could capture an answer. While he was there, he and a group of people upstairs were filming a reenactment with multiple video cameras while Rebecca was downstairs in the restaurant. She explained how people upstairs heard a loud crack from the kitchen and came running downstairs to see if she was okay. “They came running down the stairs and asked if I was okay and I said, ‘Yes, why?'” Rebecca said. “‘You screamed help me help me’ and I said, ‘No, I didn’t scream, help me’ and they said a woman was screaming … so we went back to the video camera and actually you could hear it a woman yells ‘help me’. “
They then moved to the bathroom where Kathleen was found and didn’t get many replies. But from the tape recorder there were clearly two male voices talking about the women being pushed down the stairs. “They said she was pushed down the stairs, it wasn’t suicide, it was murder,” said Rebecca. After a night of replies from those two voices, they came to the conclusion that Amelia was put in the closet to look like a suicidal woman. The story goes that Amelia wanted to marry a man who didn’t want to be with her. Amelia, who was pregnant, was killed in a murder by a man named Edward, a local jazz musician. Rebecca said the two men kept mentioning on the audio tape recorder to hide because Edward was there.
One of the most famous ghosts is that of Henry the Cop. Henry was a regular in the saloon, which had moonlight as the doorman, albeit unconfirmed. One evening a fight broke out in the stairwell between the first floor and the map room in the basement. When Henry tried to end the fight, he was brutally stabbed and fell down the stairs. Many of the encounters that the guests and staff have encountered centered on Henry. According to the saloon’s website, he hangs on the basement stairs and has been seen and felt many times in the ladies room, many women have reported being pinched by him. However, it disappears when confronted.
One of the other stores next to the saloon reported seeing Henry in their basement as well. “The people who rented next door came over and said, ‘Your ghost Henry is in our basement, a man’s shadow followed my daughter,'” said Swanson’s mother.
One of the stories Mr. Swanson remembers most vividly from the basement dates back to 2007. “I had a bouncer, and I particularly remember being in the basement bar one evening around 3am and he was just with me a lemonade or something. “upstairs. He had to go back downstairs because he had forgotten something and when he came back upstairs he just shivered, ”Swanson said. “Big, big, big guy was absolutely trembling. He said there was a guy at the bar in the basement wearing a three piece suit and he had a hat on and the bouncer told me he said ‘hey we’re closed, you have to go’ and the guy looked at that Stairs over and didn’t say a word. When the bouncer turned to look at the stairs and then back at the bar, the guy was completely gone. “
Another woman wearing a black dress has been described as a malicious presence, last seen in October 2020 wandering behind people upstairs.
The claw-footed white bathtub at the top of the bathroom on the stairs where Kathleen’s body was found.
Oxford is no longer holding ghost inquiries after multiple events resulted in people being injured. One incident came when a group of Snohomish High School photography students walked into the restaurant with a case of liquor that had allegedly been used in several cemetery investigations. Rebecca told the children about the presence of several ghosts above, but never mentioned their names. Shortly after the investigation began, one of the children came downstairs and sat at one of the tables, which Rebecca found strange at the time. The next day she got a call from one of the children involved in the investigation and told her that the boy who came down the stairs has been really depressed since the investigation and talked about wanting to commit suicide, but he never thought of it like that before. The Oxford has not conducted an investigation since then.
However, while interviewing various employees, I came across two possible encounters myself. The first happened when I was interviewing Mr. Swanson on the first floor of the restaurant. We were sitting under a photo of Henry at the top of the stairs to the basement when the light in the stairwell went out. I immediately asked Craig if anyone was downstairs and he said no. The only light switch that controls the hall light was upstairs next to our table. It was still in the up position. When Mr. Swanson pushed the switch up and down, the light came on. We went downstairs to make sure no one was there and we saw that we were the only people.
The second incident happened while I was talking to Rebecca upstairs in the old brothel. While we were interviewing her, we both heard a noise that sounded like one of the chairs was being pushed off one of the tables. When the noise happened, she laughed and said, “Welcome to Oxford”. Later that night when I got home and heard the sound from that moment on, I could hear two different noises. Faust, the sound of the chair. Second, a distinct female voice, like that of a moan of lust. The next day I took the recording to our audio booth by the radio station and was able to clean up the sound and it was clear by day … A woman’s moan.
I’m not saying that my encounters are truly paranormal, but every opportunity has been relevant to the 131-year-old building’s earlier past.
The upper floor was recently converted into a third floor bar with original decorations and contemporary artifacts. In total, the building now has three floors with its own bars, all of which function as The Oxford Saloon. You can enjoy live music, food, beer and, if you’re lucky, a spooky encounter. Come for the food and stay for the fear. Find out more about The Oxford and its spooky history here.