GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let’s put the “Boo!” back into “booze.”
All those who attend will receive a free (square) G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group.
May 17th will be GHOULA’s 60th SPIRITS with SPIRITS, and as such, it will mark 5 years of our humble group meeting once a month to explore this great city, tell ghost stories over cocktails. Help us celebrate this milestone at one of the most enchanted places in Los Angeles.
RSVP REQUIRED: This meet-up will be in the Oviatt Penthosue, with a full-service (no host) bar set up just for us. The good people at Truly Yours Catering have arranged for GHOULA to get special access into this famously haunted building’s inner sanctum (not normally open to the public), so come out for this rare opportunity to see one of the great hidden gems of Downtown. Since there are occupancy limitations… Please RSVP here.
THE DATE: May 13th (Monday)
THE PLACE:The Oviatt Penthouse (at the top of the Oviatt Building)
617 S Olive St, Downtown, (map)
(Instructions on how to enter penthouse will come later.)
THE TIME: 8:00pm – ?
ADMISSION: FREE (with RSVP)
“We’re at Nineteen Moonbeam Terrace
Overlooking Starlight Square
We’re the couple in the castle
Way up high in the air!
On the corner there’s a cloud bank
and we bank our millions there
We’re the couple in the castle in the air.”
—from the song “We’re the Couple in the Castle” (1941)
No one knows for sure if this song, written by Los Angeles-based songwriters, “Hoagy” Carmichael and Frank Loesser, for the animated feature, MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN, about an art-deco “castle” on the top of a skyscraper in the middle of a city, was inspired by the Oviatt Penthouse, but it seems likely.
In 1928, the Los Angeles Times called this Romantic penthouse the “Castle in the Air,” and it is every bit as magical today as it was back when James Oviatt, his wife, and their son lived there (even if the rooftop beach with imported sand from the French Riviera no longer exists). It is thought to be the first Art Deco residence in Los Angeles. Also, the penthouse is 13 stories up, and has a tower with three neon clock faces that are 13 feet in diameter each. Coincidence?
James Oviatt opened his haberdashery (men’s apparel) at this address in May of 1928 (exactly 85 years ago), and occupied the first three floors of this building until 1966. When his business ended, he continued to live in the penthouse until his death, a few years later. Although haberdasheries have largely disappeared from Los Angeles’ landscape, some believe that one haberdasher lingers on…
In life, James Oviatt was an avid pipe smoker, and there are claims that the strong smell of pipe tobacco will inexplicably waft through the rooms of his former home as well as the areas in the building where he used to work, especially the ground floor (now the smoke-free Cicada Restaurant). By all accounts, Oviatt was a perfectionist, and obsessed with keeping a tidy workplace, so is it any surprise that those who work at Cicada and the Penthouse feel that the shadowy figure that watches over them, or the disembodied footsteps that follow them, is just the former owner keeping an eye on things, in an attempt to maintain the standards of excellence he originally set.
Additionally, there seems to a secondary spirit that acts as the “yang” to the orderly Oviatt’s “yin,” a mischievous “prankster,” who playfully creates disorder, moving objects, throwing up papers, and tugging/pushing the staff. Since some have seen (or heard) the ghost of a small boy, who disappears into the walls, these unruly phenomena are generally blamed on Oviatt’s son, Jimmy, who in life, used to raise hell, and try to scare the staff by jumping out from behind display cases. Does his energy still engage in such childish thrills? It is said that one former security guard got so spooked in the penthouse, he ran down thirteen flights of stairs to avoid waiting for the elevator (“Feet don’t fail me now!”)
Although the ground floor (Cicada Restaurant) and the Penthouse are the real hot spots for activity, it seems that this spooky duo, do not apparently limit themselves to those two locations. Just about every tenant within this office building have had their spectral brushes with Oviatt and his son.
Perhaps the old song’s lyric should be updated to..
“We’re the couple (of ghosts) in the castle in the air”
So, come out to Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #195, have a cocktail under Downtown’s only weather vane, and celebrate 5 years of toasting ghosts… if you dare.