The Casa Armijo is rumored to be haunted by at least four different ghosts, although there could be several others. The first is the spirit of a little girl known as Elizabeth. It is believed that she was a servant girl who died from tuberculosis around 1783. Witnesses have often described her as being “cute as a button.” She has long black hair and always appears wearing a beautiful white dress, speculated by many as being a communion dress. Decorated with fancy beadwork about the neck and shoulders, the dress is often the feature that stands out when people see her. It just seems to be out of place. When Elizabeth appears, she is not quite what one would expect from watching movies and such on ghosts. She is not translucent or glowing. She appears just like a solid person, looking like an average everyday child. That is until she does something unusual, like run through a wall or suddenly vanishes.
Over the years, it has also been discovered that Elizabeth is most likely to appear in front of other children or the elderly. Although she has been sighted in various locations throughout the entire restaurant, one of her favorite places to appear is in the mirror of the women’s restroom. The women’s restroom was once apart of Elizabeth’s bedroom, the other half being comprised of a studio belonging to La Placita’s resident artist. Needless to say, it is quite unnerving to see the little girl’s reflection in the mirror and not see her anywhere else in the room.
On one occasion, there was a wedding reception held at the restaurant when two women noticed a cute little girl sitting by herself in a corner table. When one of them got up to ask her who her parents were, the girl jumped out of her chair and ran away, down the hallway back toward the restrooms. Being concerned for the girl’s welfare, the women went looking for her, but after a through search, they were unable to locate her. However, they were not thinking, “ghost”; they were thinking “lost little girl.” So they began wandering around the restaurant asking some of the patrons if they had seen the little girl. Eventually, their actions caught the eye of the manager, who approached them and asked them what they were looking for. They told him about the lost little girl and described her to him. The manager’s reply, which he is quite used to by now, was, “Don’t worry. That’s just one of our resident ghosts.”
Another resident spirit of his historic hacienda is called George, who has become adept at flustering the restaurant’s wait staff by mimicking voices. One of his favorite tricks is to close in behind a waiter or waitress and softly call their name. To their dismay, they would turn around to discover that no one else was in the room with them. Eventually, George learned how to imitate the manager’s voice, sending the wait staff scurrying around the building in search of the boss. If this wasn’t enough mischief, he also prefers to his little tricks around shift changes, causing quite a bit of commotion in the process.
Another rather social able ghost has also been reported throughout various locations in the building. Many believe that it is Ambrosia’s daughter Victoriana. Victoriana was born in 1849 and died the 6th of October 1867 at the tender age of 18. She was married to Jose Ynez Perea and it is speculated that she died during complications with childbirth. Since Teresa didn’t marry young, it’s safe to say that they wouldn’t have rushed another daughter to the altar, especially considering their wealth. They didn’t need to marry anyone off for familial survival.
In all of the sightings of this apparition, she has never been seen alone. Most often, when she is seen, she will be with Elizabeth. She seems to favor the main hallway that contains the antique stairs that were imported from Spain. Other speculation suggests that she is Teresa since the stairs were erected for her.
She has also been sighted, once again with Elizabeth, in the center dining room of the restaurant. This area was once the placita, or patio of the hacienda. Today, one can still see the old shade tree that graces the area. The owners had the roof built around it when it was enclosed, preserving that piece of history.
Another ghost seen at the La Placita restaurant was reported by one of the security guards that patrols Old Town at night. South Plaza Street lines up directly with a large window in the building, giving a view of one of the major hallways of the building. This hall contains the entrances to the restrooms, the artist’s gallery (Elizabeth’s room) as well as providing a good view of the antique staircase.
One night, the security guard was out doing his rounds when he turned onto South Plaza Street. As his headlights illuminated the hallway through the window, he saw something unusual and pulled over to investigate. Unable to determine exactly what he saw, he decided to come in the next morning to talk to the manager about it.
The next day he asked the manger if he was renting out any part of the building. The manger’s reply was, “No, it’s a restaurant. We are not renting any part of it out to tenants. Why do you ask?” The security guard then told him of his patrol the previous night. “As I was approaching your building last night around 2:30 a.m., I noticed a woman holding a baby in your hallway. She looked directly at me, and then moved off to another portion of the building. I got out of the car to look for her, but I was unable to see her again through any of the window. None of the alarms had gone off, so I figured that she belonged inside. I just wanted to check with you to make sure.”
The manager once again informed him that no areas of the building were being rented out to anyone and that no one would have been inside that early in the morning.
When asked what the woman looked like, the security guard moved inside the artist’s gallery and pointed to a mural on the north wall. “She looked almost exactly like the third figure (from the left) in this mural.”