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A ghost adventure for students: haunted locales around town

Cody Finney / The Arbiter

Halloween is a time for parties, pumpkins, costumes and of course, a ton of candy.
While there are a number of events around Boise where you can go to partake in Halloween festivities, there are also a number of haunted landmarks on and near campus that are just a quick bicycle ride away.
Some are famous spots that have been visited by nationally recognized ghost hunters, while others are known to a much lesser extent, but are no less haunted.
So grab a flashlight, call your friends and get ready for some bona fide ghost-hunting fun.


Stop #1: Hannifins Cigar Shop
1024 W. Main Street

Zach Chastaine / The Arbiter

The little cigar shop at the corner of Main and 11th Street has been around a long time. The building was constructed in 1905 and Hannifins has been in business ever since. The Boise Architecture Project pegs it as one of the oldest buildings in Boise, and structurally it has changed very little since 1905.
Currently the shop is a destination for munchies, soda and cigars. At one point it was the state’s largest purveyor of smut magazines and other periodicals. The stock is now more focused on groceries.
In 1956, Hannifins was the site of one of Idaho’s most famous murders. Raymond Snowden, the “Jack the Ripper of Idaho,” stabbed Boise local Cora Dean 35 times. Now it is believed Snowden haunts the cigar shop, and locals have claimed to have heard footsteps.


Stop #2: The Idanha Hotel

928 W. Main Street

Zach Chastaine / The Arbiter

A stone’s throw away from Hannifins is an easily recognized Boise landmark: the Idanha Hotel. Originally opened in 1901, the Idanha now serves as an apartment building. Its green and white turrets stick out of the increasingly modern architecture of the city and it’s a hard location to miss.
While you can no longer book a room at Idanha, you can get dinner at the Bombay Grill located on the street level. For older students, the 10th Street Station is right around the corner offering beer in a fun sports-bar atmosphere. The building is also home to the Basement Gallery.
The Idanha is believed to be haunted by numerous spirits from different times in the building’s history. A bell boy shot dead by a guest in the 1970s is thought to sometimes move the elevator up and down, particularly to the fourth floor of the building where he was killed.
A lesser-known ghost on the second floor of the building is believed to be the spirit of a woman who was murdered by her husband with a pair of scissors in the 1920s. It is said she roams the halls and prevents people from sleeping at night.


Stop #3: The Old Idaho Penitentiary
2445 Old Penitentiary Road

Patrick Sweeney / The Arbiter

Located on the eastern edge of town next to a plethora of popular hiking and cycling trails is a site that contains as much state history as it does legacies of notorious criminals and violence. The Penitentiary opened in 1870 and was home to hundreds of criminals. The prisoners were forced to work in nearby stone quarries, and the stone they mined was used to construct the very prison that housed them.
The Penitentiary’s brutal history is highlighted in a Travel Channel episode of Ghost Adventures; the crew locked themselves into the prison overnight in an attempt to document paranormal activity. Zak Bagans and his team managed to get spooky recordings of what is thought to be several different agitated criminal spirits, many of whom perished inside the prison.
Today the Penitentiary is open for tours to the general public for a fee of $5 on most regular weekdays.
Adjacent to the prison are the Idaho Botanical Gardens and Table Rock, which can both offer Penitentiary views that don’t require the faint of heart to set foot inside.


Stop #4: Boise State Communication Building

Cody Finney / The Arbiter

Many years ago, Boise State was very different from the university we know and love today, and the current communication building was actually the Student Union Building until 1967.
The building is believed to be haunted by Dinah, a student who, according to legend, killed herself after being stood up by her homecoming date and seeing him leave to the dance with another girl.
According to Bingo Barnes of the Boise Weekly, Dinah’s antics in the communication building are varied. She is said to occasionally switch computers on and off and cause lights to flicker in the building.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, the sound of eerie giggling has been heard in some classrooms.
Dinah reportedly got her name when paranormal investigators asked for the ghost’s name and a piano started playing “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah,” all by itself.
So next time you have to meet a professor in the communication building, keep your eyes and ears open for Dinah’s tormented ghost.


About Zachary Chastaine (0 Articles)
Zachary studies English technical writing at Boise State and previously wrote for the Portland State Vanguard. An enthusiast of downhill mountain biking, craft beers and automotive racing Zach hopes to continue his writing studies overseas at Oxford Brookes.