Clovis Wolfe Haunted History

Ghost Adventures investigate the Clovis Wolfe Manor, a former sanitarium known as a black hole of sadness and death, in California.
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Photo by: Melinda Downing

Melinda Downing

Wolfe Manor was built in 1922 as the opulent mansion for the young tycoon Anthony Andriotti. It boasted an ideal location in the small town of Clovis, CA, affectionately known as "The Gateway to the Sierras." Unfortunately, his great estate didn't bring him the happiness he hoped for. The high costs of the building's upkeep eventually forced Andriotti into bankruptcy. This led to his demise as he turned to alcohol and met an early death in 1929 at the age of 36. But this early tragedy was only the beginning; the Manor seemed forever doomed, a black hole of sadness and death.

A Stately Manor Turned Sanitarium
The manor sat vacant during the Great Depression until it reopened in 1935 as the Hazelwood Sanitarium, which housed patients dying from tuberculosis. Then in 1942, the Telford family purchased the building, and it became the Clovis Avenue Sanitarium. Its new role was to serve both the mentally and physically ill from the close-knit Clovis community.  

While some visited the hospital for common physical ailments and even to give birth, more often it housed people with mental illnesses that were otherwise shunned from society. Families dropped off loved ones suffering from schizophrenia and dementia and never returned to visit. In the 1950s, a 10,000-square-foot wing was added to the sanitarium. There were 18 additional rooms to house a new population of patients -- the elderly. These rooms were packed with up to 10 beds and a single nurse could be assigned 22 patients. Conditions declined rapidly and the quality of care was poor, causing many to suffer behind closed doors.  

The Town's Blemish
The town of Clovis was quaint and scenic, and most considered the sanitarium a black mark on this otherwise idyllic spot. Emergency workers dreaded answering calls from the residence because they usually meant someone had died. When things were busy, Clovis staff would store the corpses of the newly dead in the building's cool basement until they could be removed. Schoolchildren whispered about creepy activity in the building, and the locals told tales of the steady stream of bodies being carried out. Clovis continued on as a convalescent home through the 1980s and fell into greater disrepair. The facility finally closed its doors in 1992.  

But just because the building shut down, that didn't mean it remained empty. Trespassers and vandals crept around the grounds looking for signs of ghosts. If they weren't chased off by the police, they were often scared away by unnatural events. The Clovis Police were frequently called to the grounds, sometimes in response to 911 calls coming from the building. However, the great mystery is that there was no longer electricity or a working phone line in the building. So exactly who was phoning the 911 operators from 2604 Clovis Avenue? The operators only heard dead air on the other end of the phone.  

A True Haunted House
In 1997, Todd Wolfe purchased the house with the intentions of creating a Halloween-themed attraction. However, Wolfe quickly found it wasn't going to be fun and games -- dark spirits continually harassed his staff. Wolfe didn't believe in ghosts when he set out on this new venture, but an experience with a shadowy figure in "Mary's Room" changed his philosophy. Employees working around the house have not only seen ghostly apparitions, but some have been physically grabbed by unseen forces. Wolfe currently hopes to turn Wolfe Manor into a hotel, but there's no certainty that the building's current residents will approve. For now, the Clovis community carries on much as it has in the past -- some try their best to overlook the evil scar in their small town while others hang rosary beads on the fence outside to ward off the dark spirits.

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