Rosson House Museum

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Apparently the city of Phoenix has an unpaid
spectral volunteer with a great work ethic!




The website for the beautifully restored Rosson House Museum describes it as a place to discover.  “The Museum is a fully-restored 1895 (brick; not adobe) Queen Anne Gothic Victorian house museum which interprets the history of Phoenix.”

This mansion museum showcases the life of a wealthy family, as well as families who were not so wealthy who lived here.

During the Rosson years, the mansion was not only beautiful but had very practical functions that made life a whole lot easier. It had hot and cold running water, an upstairs bathroom, electric lights and electric doorbells, a telephone and refined decor and furniture, creating a house that could’ve been found in the wealthy neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Though it didn’t have air conditioning, residents could attach a cord to the light fixtures and run fans in various rooms.

The home had the common area rooms on the first floor, with the bedrooms on the second floor.  On the ground floor, Dr. Rosson had his professional office and surgical quarters, helping the people of Phoenix to be healthy. There was also the parlor, the dining room, kitchen, etc.

While the beautiful woodwork, fireplaces, doorknobs, and other permanent features are always there, the museum curators regularly switch the historical artifacts and exhibits, making things interesting to entice people to make more than one visit.


This beautiful Queen Anne Victorian was built sometime between 1894 and 1895 for Physician/surgeon Dr. Rowland Lee Rosson, his wife Flora Murray Rosson, and their large family. It was  the most expensive home to be found at the time in Phoenix.  It was designed and built by a well-known San Franciscan architect, A.P. Petit, who died before seeing the finished home. It was his last masterpiece in design and comfort.

The main issue for the Rosson family was that their fantastic new home may have been too far from town, and Rosson’s patients, which may be why they only lived here sporadically off and on for two years. The house itself had everything available inside for comfortable living for folks accustomed to living life for the well-to-do.

The Rosson family only stayed here a few months before they found a place downtown, in a preferred neighborhood close to schools, friends, church and business. The Rossons rented out their glorious mansion during the winter months to Mr. Whitelaw Reid, described as “an influential Republican and head of the “New York Tribune.”  The doctor’s office became a mini newspaper headquarters via letters and telegraph.

By 1897, the Rosson family had settled in downtown Phoenix happily, and they sold their showcase home to Aaron and Carrie Goldberg and their children.

After living there only seven years, the Goldbergs sold the mansion to S.W. Higley in 1904, who lived there with his family until 1914. The Higleys sold their mansion to the Gammel Family who made some “extensive changes” to the home, converting it into a boarding house, that would’ve had A.P. Petit spinning in his grave. The Gammels needed to put the structure to work to bring in funds.

They lived there the longest of all the mansion’s occupants: thirty-four years.  After 1948, the mansion continued to be a boarding house, but there was a “revolving door” of owners, none of whom stayed very long and not putting much sweat equity or money into its upkeep. Uh oh!

The once glorious Rosson Mansion became a creaky, fixer upper opportunity.

However, the last owners  to own the property, protected this wonderful home by applying to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

Luckily, the city of Phoenix bought the Rosson Mansion and Block 14 in 1974, and began to restore it back to its original condition, as A.P. Petite had intended it. It remains the last mansion standing that Petite designed, making it a treasure indeed!

Trying to keep its history alive, the city of Phoenix moved other historic structures to block 14 as well, creating Heritage Square.



People who lose their lives through illness, sudden accident, war wounds, or murder, sometimes stay in the place they had pleasant memories of as spirits, trying to reestablish their lives in their afterlife, not ready to leave this world just yet.

Kahler Grand Hotel, MN (A candy heiress was brutally beaten to death by thugs and burned up in a furnace. Her spirit is spending her afterlife in a place where she truly enjoyed her stay).

Berkeley Plantation, VA (William Harrison IV and two of his daughters were trying to shut a window in a bedroom. A fluke bolt of lightening came through the window, striking and killing all three of them. The spirit of William is still the courteous host, and greets visitors who come on the tours. The spirits of his daughters keep him company).

Loveland Castle, OH (Harry Andrews built his labor of love, and truly cherished the finished castle. He died in an unexpected, painful accident, from burns he received while incinerating trash or cooking on the roof of his castle. His spirit is spending his afterlife here where he can enjoy the activities of the living).

Rosson House Museum, AZ (The spirit of a past caretaker loved his position watching over the mansion, and had many happy memories working here, not dwelling on how he died so violently).

People who enjoy their responsibilities in taking care of a structure, sometimes still want to do so in spirit form.

Brewery Arts Center, NV (When this building belonged to the Masons, there was a maintenance officer who  worked hard to make sure lights were off, etc. The spirit of a dedicated Masonic maintenance officer continues to fulfill his duties for the art center that now owns the building).

State Center of the Arts Theater in Easton, PA (A spectral theatre manager became its guardian, with patience and perseverance. During renovations, this spirit again went all out to encourage).

Trail End State Historic Site: Kendrick Mansion, WY (A male spirit is an unpaid host and/or caretaker and not on the museum’s payroll).

The Rosson House Museum, AZ (The caretaker was not ready to give up his position here, so he continues whether the museum is open or closed).

People who are murdered /killed near a building, especially if they are fond of it, may decide to move inside as spirits.

Saint Johns Twin Cinema and Pub, OR (A vaudevillian actor was murdered in the alley by the theater. As he had performed there while alive, his spirit moved in, and tries to be helpful and one of the team).

Lucky’s Tavern, FL (A mobster was gunned down on the sidewalk just outside this building in the late 1920s/1930s. His spirit has made himself  a volunteer staff supervisor with a rough style, and is a bit cheeky).

Cuppa Coffe and More, CA (A practical joker played one too many pranks and was killed just outside this storefront. As a spirit he still is playing jokes on the living in this business).

The Rosson House Museum’s caretaker was murdered in the early 1980s just outside by a punk gunman.


Spirit of the Murdered Caretaker

Most of the activity happens after hours and is reported by living caretakers, though day staff and visitors sometimes experience things too.

Unseen Presence

Doors lock on their own. In fact, caretakers after hours have been locked out of a room when nobody living was inside.

Items are moved around the mansion by unseen hands.

Fire places have radiated heat when they weren’t burning anything.



Personal Appearances

The spirit of a man has appeared in front of staff, and other caretakers.

There are enough clear details of the spirit that are reported by witnesses to identify it as being the murdered caretaker.

Auditory Activity

Footsteps are heard going up and down the staircase.

The sounds of someone going about their business at hand have been heard in places where the living are not present.


Since 1980, the living have had the experiences listed above. This spirit became active soon after the murder.

No hard evidence has been shared online, probably because ghost hunters and paranormal investigations are not allowed.

ghost rosson


Yes Indeed!

Apparently, the spirit of the murdered caretaker is finding some peace, by still helping out and doing his duties. He wasn’t ready to die in such a way, having his life taken from him. So, he continues trying to do what he loves to do at Rosson House Mansion, finding some peace from his restlessness.


Rosson House Museum
113 North Sixth Street,
Phoenix, Arizona

Rosson House Museum is Located on North Block 14 of the city of Phoenix, in what is called Heritage Square and Science Park. It sits on its original foundation, unlike other buildings on Heritage Square, that also tell the history of Phoenix of the 1800s and early 1900s.




Our Photos are copyrighted by Tom Carr

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