Paranormal Reports at
the Rosson House
- The apparition of a former caretaker is often seen around the staircase
- Phantom footsteps are often heard around the house
- Doors reportedly lock on their own
- Unlit fireplaces reportedly emanate large amounts of heat without known cause
- Objects are known to move around the museum without explanation
- Some visitors claim fireplaces in the house will spontaneously ignite
Phoenix, Arizona’s Heritage and Science Park is a densely packed collection of museums and educational centers. This eclectic assortment includes the Arizona Science Center, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Arizona State University Mercado, and perhaps most curiously, the Rosson House.
Flaunting a Victorian style juxtaposed around modern brutalist museums, the Rosson House has a sense of stubbornness about it. Perched on the last remaining residential block of the original town of Phoenix, the Rosson House is one of the last remnants of the city’s distant past.
The Rosson House today, from its golden topped tower down to the fired brick foundation, is a respected cornerstone of downtown Phoenix culture and education.
But experiences in the Rosson House can range from interesting to downright spooky, and what happens under its bright yellow roof doesn’t stay there, as numerous ghost stories and paranormal rumors have shown. But what is it that supposedly makes this old brick mansion so haunted?
Timeline of Rosson House Museum's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Rosson House Museum through the years
Built in early 1895, the Rosson House was commissioned by local physician, and then mayor of Phoenix, Roland Rosson. Rosson made sure to include all the luxuries of the time, including electric lights, hot and cold plumbing, and a telephone. Despite sparing no expense on this opulent Victorian mansion, the Rosson family didn’t stay there long.
They quickly rented their home out to newspaperman and former Vice Presidential nominee Whitelaw Reid. By the summer of 1897, the Rosson family sold the mansion and moved away from Arizona.
The home was sold to Aaron and Carrie Goldberg, owners of a successful clothing store. Aaron Goldberg was also a politician, having written the bill that permanently established Phoenix as Arizona’s state capital. The Goldbergs sold the mansion in 1904 to S.W. Higley.
Higley in turn sold it to the Gammel family in 1914, making the mansion home to four families in less than 20 years. The Gammels owned the house for longer than anyone and operated it as a boarding house. By 1948, the Gammels sold off the home to other interested landlords.
Over the years that followed, the Rosson House descended from a run-of-the-mill boarding house to an unkempt flophouse. By the 60s, the home had become known for its poor reputation and worse condition.
It seemed quite possible that the historic mansion would see demolition. But, the mayor at the time, John Driggs, fought throughout the decade to save the home, successfully lobbying to get it added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Driggs bartered with President Nixon to get a $200,000 HUD grant to support Phoenix’s urban renewal in 1974, working with the city to rehabilitate the home starting in 1976. In 1980, the Historic Heritage Square area of Phoenix was fully revitalized and reopened, with the Rosson House at the center of it all. The home has served as a popular historical museum ever since.
But not long after opening as a museum, something happened that would, quite literally, haunt the building forever.
Apparitions at the Rosson House
The old caretaker’s apparition has been spotted throughout the building, but most often around the home’s staircase. Tourists and museum guides report seeing his shadowy figure dart around out of the corner of their eyes, while others have gotten more detailed glimpses of him running up and down the stairs.
In other instances, people hear heavy footsteps around the staircase, though no figure would appear. These phantom footsteps have also been heard in other areas of the house.
Rosson House’s Phantom Prankster
Museum employees also say that the caretaker’s ghost will sometimes play pranks on them. One of the most common is that doors will reportedly lock from the inside without explanation, leaving workers to search around for old keys to unlock them.
At other times, workers report small objects and pieces of exhibits moving to different exhibits without reason or known cause. Most folks around the museum chalk this up to the spirit of the caretaker just killing time entertaining himself.