EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published on Oct. 30, 2022.
Story & Video by Scott Schaefer
Is Burien’s historic and recently re-opened Three Tree Point Store haunted?
More than one person claims that strange, “ghostly” activities have been going on there, perhaps for years.
The store, which first opened in 1903 and was the first grocery in Burien, was purchased in 2019 and restored by new owner Todd Manola to its previous iconic style, including new signage, interior renovations, paint, updating and more.
Manola did a lot of the work himself, oftentimes alone.
The iconic store opened well before the first road from Lake Burien to the point was constructed around 1915. Prior to the road, the only access for Three Tree Point residents and visitors was by the “Indian Trail,” or via the “Mosquito Fleet” boat service which began in the mid-1880s.
The original owners carried dry goods and grew vegetables in the backyard to sell.
In the 1950s, it became a butcher shop, and one of the first electric deli meat slicers in the area remains on the premises.
Other historical items remain at the property, including the original scale and cash register, gently cared for over the years by the many owners. At various times, the building has served as a lending library, a dive shop, an art gallery and a coffee shop.
The Three Tree Point Store reopened Oct. 1, 2021, and has become quite the popular spot, serving a selection of specialty, local, and staple goods, as well as a robust assortment of craft beers and fine wines.
Manola told The B-Town Blog recently that other things may be on the premises as well – namely, two ghosts – watch our video below to hear residents’ and workers’ experiences with them (running time 19:26).
EDITOR’S NOTE: An astute viewer says that at the 3:35 mark, the cabinet door under the kitchen sink moves – do you see it?
Manola said that the most unusual thing he’s felt was the presence of something – or someone – when he was working alone, cutting tile in the basement.
“I was working right here (inside the basement near the entry doors) cutting tile on a machine when something strange happened,” he said. “I was pushed forward by something, but when I looked there was nobody there, just the closed doors of the basement.”
Current Tenant Sees Doors Open, Gets ‘Heebie Jeebies’
Current tenant of the connected home – Adrian “AJ” Stumpf – agrees. He said he’s felt the presence of something in the kitchen, dining area, living room and a closet in the bedroom of the home, and has seen unusual activities.
Stumpf is somewhat skeptical and scientific though, as he works as a Nurse at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Seattle.
He told The B-Town Blog during a recent video interview that whatever – or whomever – is in the home, they have been known to open cabinet doors, knock items over and off tables and more.
He said that guests to the home have also witnessed unusual activity.
The first significant incident for Stumpf was when, while entering the kitchen from the dining room, he got a big case of the “heebie jeebies.” Hair on the back of his neck stood up and he felt the presence of someone/thing near a charcoal sketch that Anne Feiertag – a previous tenant who passed away in 2017 – had drawn while a student at the Gage Academy in Seattle.
Stumpf was so unnerved that he took the sketch off the wall and hid it behind a dresser in a closet in the bedroom. Months later, he said he felt the same “heebie jeebies” feeling again near that area, so he moved the sketch from its hidden spot and returned it to the dining room wall.
He told whoever or whatever was creeping him out to “make a deal – I’ll put the sketch back and you can stop bothering me,'” he said.
Anne’s widower husband Fred told us recently that he’s certain that it’s not Anne’s spirit that’s haunting the sketch, and it has remained on that wall in the same spot ever since.
But that didn’t necessarily work.
Another time one of Stumpf’s friends was sitting in the kitchen while he cooked food at the oven, and a cabinet door very near her opened on its own.
“Did you see that?” she asked him.
“Yep, that door just opened on its own,” he replied. “That happens here.”
“This place is haunted,” she told him.
Another time one of his friends was doing a Zoom call in the dining room, with the laptop camera facing the kitchen. During the call, she could see on her camera cabinet doors opening up in the kitchen behind her.
Perhaps one of the strangest incidents was when Strumpf was taking a shower, and he couldn’t find the soap. He looked down at the soap holder. Nothing. Then on the floor. Still nothing. Then, he turned and found the bar of soap…Stuck. To. The. Shower. Curtain. Stuck! Like it was glued there.
“How would a bar of soap end up sticking to the shower curtain like that?” he wondered.
Manola is no stranger to ghost-like encounters, as his grandfather Joe was once rumored to haunt a home on SW 172nd Street just down the street. After being “pushed” by something that he couldn’t see, he connected with a clairvoyant/medium. She has never been to the store/home, but he said that she convincingly described in great detail several items within the building.
One conversation included her naming one of the ghosts as “Gerald,” who she said may have been a captain or worker on the old Mosquito Fleet ships that would dock just west of the store on the north beach of Three Tree Point.
“Gerald” is alleged to carry an oil lamp, which witnesses occasionally see as a flash of light when his spirit moves past them.
Store Owner, Workers Share Experiences
Several workers at the store have also described incidents where glasses have flown off shelves and broken, as well as hearing mysterious footsteps.
Store Owner Nelle Reichert told us about two incidents where things flew off of stationary objects like shelves or the espresso machine…seemingly on their own.
One was when two espresso shot glasses “clamored to the floor,” and another was when a guest sitting near the back had a wine glass fall and break on her head.
Barista worker Jordan Sharp told us that on Oct. 22 – while alone in the store – she heard footsteps in a back storage room that was closed off. When she checked the room, all doors were closed and there was nobody there.
Another ghost of Asian descent may hang out in the basement, Manola added. According to the clairvoyant, this one may have worked as a butcher there in the 1950s. An Asian-themed carving of a dragon was once affixed to the old wooden doors, which have since been removed. Manola thinks this spirit may have been the one who pushed him, and since learning of him now says “Konnichiwa” out loud when entering the basement.
Former Owner/Resident Shares Hauntings
Former owner/resident of the property Toni McCaffray – who lived and operated the store on weekends during the 1990s – shared her experiences.
She said she did encounter numerous spirits, and is “not sure how to describe what we felt and heard or saw…”
“There was Fritz, that was our name for whatever caused the activity in parts of the house,” McCaffray said. “It seemed to be mainly in the kitchen. The cabinets opened and closed quite often on their own, and the door to the store from the hallway in the house opened frequently on its own.”
Also the door to the knotty pine bedroom – where a ghost she nicknamed “the growler” resided – would also open on its own.
“Various guests would wake up in the middle of the night after hearing growling noises under the bed,” she said. “I would tell the guests who might spend the night to please if they heard any noises in the middle of the night to just tell the spirit to please be quiet or just stop and then once they went back to sleep they usually made it through the night without any other noises.”
McCaffray told The B-Town Blog that she never slept in the knotty pine room until her last two nights in the house.
“Sure enough, at about 2 a.m., I sat straight up in bed and thought, wow, the growler!” She said. “Told him I was leaving in the next couple of days and to stop, just stop, so I could sleep. And I went back to sleep. That actually turned out to be the last night I slept in the house!”
She said she never saw anything as drastic as glasses flying off the shelves at that time in the kitchen.
“I thought at first it was probably a poltergeist, but there was no activity from a playful poltergeist that would make me think it had moved onto that stage, if there are stages that spirits go through,” she added.
She used the basement for storage and even though it was kind of creepy down there, she never experienced any type of aggression from the spirits. However, she did not work down there beyond putting a layer of plastic under the foundation.
McCaffray adds that her daughter Rachael also saw ghosts and spirits in the store.
“Full on bodies of women as far as I can remember,” she said. “I can’t begin to tell you how many times I saw people/visions of people in all types of clothing from the corner of my eyes walking full on in the living areas. So much movement.”
Interestingly, she said that her cats would spend a lot of time following things with their eyes in the living areas.
“I always wondered what they were looking at!”
A Shaman named Char later came to the house and did a “cleansing” intended to move spirits out of the house.
“I do remember when she walked in – the air and energy of the house greatly changed,” she said. “The cats went more crazy and would not leave and followed her through the process. I do recall that she said there was a lot of energy below the store portion of the building. It seemed to help.”
After Char finished, the house got quieter, but the “growler” never left, as far as she knows. Also, a housesitter named Rita also experienced the “growler” as well as more openings and closings of doors.
McCaffray also had a very vivid encounter in the home that was a bit more extreme.
“I did experience one night a movement of beings coming through my bedroom, on either side of my bed, they went through the wall and into the store and went through the floor and disappeared,” she said. “It was as if the wall became translucent and I could see/feel what was happening. This was an entirely different type of feeling and perhaps not on the same level as my other experiences.”
Neighbor Girl Waved at House
During a recent visit to the store, we heard from a neighbor who said that when his daughter was younger, he would often take her for drives around the area to help her fall asleep. At that time, the store was not open, and the owner lived in the rear residence.
“And every time we’d drive by the store, she’d wave,” he said. “I asked her who she was waving at, and she said ‘there’s a woman in the window.'”
“But I never saw any woman looking out the store’s windows,” he said.
Are Ghosts Real?
This Reporter once served as Senior Writer on the Emmy Award-winning TV show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” where he often had lively discussions with Nye and science researchers about the paranormal. The phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” was often used when it came to claims about beliefs like ghosts or UFOs.
Yet a 2019 Ipsos poll found that 46% of Americans say they believe in ghosts.
However, far as we know, there is still no scientific evidence or proof of the existence of ghosts, despite the cultural phenomena being the basis for numerous popular TV shows, horror films, books and online chatter.
And yes, most of the ghostly experiences we’ve heard of or have been told might be attributable to a creaky old foundation, weak old hinges, drafty rooms or people’s imaginations.
Or can they?
And what about UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena)? Formerly known as UFOs, now the Pentagon and NASA are studying strange objects seen in the skies (and sometimes, the seas) that have been documented on video by credible, “Top Gun” military pilots. Previously, pilots and other witnesses were reluctant to share their UFO encounters because of the potential for public humiliation.
What do YOU think? Have you had any ghostly/paranormal experiences you’d like to share with our Readers? If so, please email [email protected] and we’ll review and possibly post a story about yours.