Haunted Spokane: The Wilbur-Hahn Mansion

posted by Sara Jean -

THE HAHN MANSION 

2525 E. 19TH AVE / 2526 E 17TH AVE

Spokane's South Hill

Wilbur-Hahn Mansion

Years ago I found myself working in a beautiful office in downtown Spokane. Floor to ceiling windows, a Juliette balcony...and a gruesome story behind the previous tenant. 

My office was once occupied by the well-known Dr. Rudolph Hahn. Luckily, my historic office was where he provided the majority of his legal services to the community. I started looking into Dr. Hahn's story after coming to work one day to find my ridiculously heavy mahogany desk had been moved - no longer facing the wall, but the window. A story a previous employee had told me had happened to her on occasion - apparently because Dr. Hahn liked looking out upon Riverside Avenue while working. 

"So you're telling me Dr. Hahn moved my desk?"

"Yes, that is what I'm telling you."

In disbelief, yet somehow intrigued, my research began. And the story I found had many Gatsby similarities making it not only quite movie-worthy, but also quite perfect for a cold, dark night when one is in search of all things spooky.

Photo: Spokane Preservation Advocates

One of the few photos of the original interior of the home. Circa 1929.

Dr. Hahn and his second wife Sylvia (who I must note was 32 years younger than he was) purchased the home from Sarah Hecla Smith Wilbur in 1924 (it had been built for $75,000). One wouldn't likely even call the residence a house...but rather a mansion. So large it has two addresses and takes up 3.16 acres of land. Hahn put $50,000 of renovations into the home...including secret tunnels and passageways many think were to cover up his illegal medical activity.

Now I use the word "Doctor" loosely, as Hahn actually wasn't licensed. Story has it he came upon his fortune by electro-therapy procedures he claimed cured cancer, labotomies and the most popular - illegal abortions for the wealthy. These "medical" procedures were performed in the basement of his home...where he had gutters carved into the floor to facilitate the draining of blood.

Hahn and his wife had somewhat of a tumultuous relationship...rumor has it he even ended up with a number of broken ribs after one argument. Police were called regularly, not only due to their fights, but due to the lavish parties (remember - this was prohibition era) they'd throw on the property. Parties so wild, that on one occasion a very drunk Dr. Hahn drove his car right into the pool (a pool he then had filled with dirt to keep such an event from happening again). It is said that Lt. Doolittle of the infamous Doolittle Raid was one of his regular guests, and to this day one can still hear the clinking of glasses and sounds of laughter coming from the house.

Hahn was known for being quite eccentric as well. They say he always wore a suit - with bedroom slippers. And he acquired an odd obsession with radio, running KFPY after installing multiple story radio towers and speakers around the property...and blasting the music into the early hours of the morning. Eventually neighbors had to get a court order to halt his efforts and shut the station down. 

This is where the story takes a turn for the worse. There are a few versions out there, but the one I'm familiar with says that after a horrible fight police were called to find Sylvia dead in her bedroom in the mansion. A bullet hole to the head that was ruled a suicide. However, multiple gunshots had been heard and the walls were ridden with bullet holes...not typical of one trying to end their own life, Hahn claimed he took target practice in the house on occasion... One story says her brain was missing when they found her and others say that to this day you can still see the bloodstain on the bedroom floor. Many assume Dr. Hahn was the one behind the trigger...

While he may have gotten away with murder once, he wasn't so lucky the second time around. Hahn was convicted in 1945 after a young Mullan, Idaho woman seeking an abortion died on his operation table. His manslaughter conviction only resulted in a $1000 fine and probation but he ended up having to sell the house and move into the New Madison Apartments in downtown Spokane.

Hahn Mansion Entrance

This is where the story of the quack doctor come to an end. On August 6th, 1945 Hahn was found dead in his apartment. His own bayonet skewering him through the chest. The man arrested (a hearing aid salesman) claims it was a robbery and while he admitted to the murder, many skeptics believe it may have been related to a previous medical procedure gone wrong and a deep need for revenge.

The Hahn Mansion has been through a few hands since the 40s. And it sat completely vacant during the majority of the 60s and 70s. Tenants and construction workers tell stories of heavy paranormal activity during renovations - particularly fighting from downstairs, screams from the basement, music in the courtyards and the figure of a woman who appears regularly on the stairs.

One night I took it upon myself to visit the Hahn Mansion for the first time. A spooky fall evening, best guy friend in tow and a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks in hand. I'm sad to say we didn't hear or see anything out of the ordinary - aside from a very overweight raccoon. The price tag has changed a bit since it was built in 1916 for $75,000. The "haunted" 5-bedroom, 4-bath home was recently taken off the market at $999,000. 

However, the story behind those stone walls? Priceless.

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Sara Jean

Sara Jean

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