WATSONVILLE — Any longtime resident of Watsonville has noticed the Tuttle Mansion. The large, red Victorian home is located right on busy East Lake Avenue, sitting in exactly the same spot it was constructed back in 1899.
The house was originally the residence of Mr. Morris B. Tuttle, whose family moved to California from Iowa. Tuttle hired famous architect William Weeks, who created a number of other notable houses in the Pajaro Valley, to design the home.
Over the years, the mansion has served as an apartment complex and also been the home to a number of different businesses. The current owners’ parents bought the house in 1974.
Kathy and Jeniffer Oliver, twin sisters who now run Oliver Property Management and an antique toy business from different sections of the house, are eager to share this unique house’s history with visitors.
One type of guest common to the Tuttle Mansion are paranormal investigators, as the house is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Santa Cruz County.
“We’ve had investigators from all over, coming to try and make contact,” Jeniffer Oliver said. “There is definitely something otherworldly at work here.”
Investigators from Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters, Los Angeles’ Darklands Paranormal, a group from San Francisco, as well as the popular television show “Ghost Adventures” have visited the mansion.
The Oliver sisters themselves have had plenty of experiences.
Jeniffer Oliver claims to have heard loud banging and the sound of footsteps coming from inside the house when she was the only one left. Entire shelves have been found knocked over, and drawers randomly opened.
“Certain rooms are definitely more active than others,” she said. “Guests have reported seeing and hearing things on the second and third floors especially.”
According to the Oliver sisters, there have been sightings of Morris Tuttle himself, gazing out of the large second-story window at where his apple orchards once were. His wife, Mary Tuttle, has been spotted toward the back of the house. At least five different people have claimed to have seen the apparition of a small boy, believed to be one of the Tuttle Family’s many children who died at a young age.
Many EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenons) have been captured in and surrounding the mansion, as well. One recorded by a San Francisco investigator is of a possible spirit whispering Kathy’s name.
“That was a trip,” she laughed. “I had goosebumps.”
The Tuttles were well-to-do and powerful in the community, but their family history, including at the house itself, is plagued with many bizarre and tragic events. A murder in the carriage house, a murder-suicide in one of the bedrooms, a boy falling down the property’s well to his death and various other incidents all lend many to believe the house has become a spiritual portal.
“There are areas of this house and its grounds that some people just won’t go into,” Jeniffer said. “They feel some sort of strange, dark energy.”
Despite the house’s spooky happenings, the Olivers obviously love the mansion. They say they are doing their best to keep up restoring it and preserving as much of the building’s original architecture as possible.
“We really feel lucky to have grown up here,” Kathy said. “It’s an important piece of Watsonville history.”