Hair-raising company visits 143-year-old Carson City home |

Hair-raising company visits 143-year-old Carson City home

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

By Karl Horeis

Appeal Staff Writer

Dawn King, office manager for King & Taggart law offices in the 143-year-old Stewart Nye house, was tidying the place one night in March. She and her daughter were the only ones in the two-story house when King headed upstairs. As she turned at the landing, she was surprised to see a woman in a long, old-fashioned dress standing at the top of the stairs.

“I never believed – ever – in ghostly experiences,” she said. “But I could have sworn I saw what I saw.”

The woman disappeared, and King was left spooked.

“It made me so nervous that I didn’t even set the alarm that night – I just left.”

It wasn’t the only mysterious encounter in the building recently.

Her husband, former senior district attorney Patrick King, was working on a computer alone one night when the hair stood up on his neck. He decided to leave, so he turned off the lights and pulled the old wooden door closed until it clicked. Once downstairs, he was turning on the alarm when he realized the lights were back on upstairs. When he investigated, he found the door open 14 inches and the lights on.

“I figured for sure someone was inside so I called out, ‘Hello? Hello?’ and went inside. There was nobody there,” he said.

His partner Paul Taggart, another former district attorney, also had a brush with unseen company upstairs. He was seated at his desk when he felt someone touch the back of his neck. First one finger touched him then others. He spun around to find himself alone.

“It sure felt like somebody was behind me,” he said. “It certainly got my attention.”

Taggart moved his office downstairs. “Paul won’t work there at night – absolutely not,” said Dawn King.

The house was built in 1860 by lawyer William Morris Stewart, one of Nevada’s first U.S. senators. The second owner was James Warren Nye, whom President Abraham Lincoln appointed the first territorial governor of Nevada in 1861.

The house, made of locally cut sandstone, was sold to the Catholic church in 1917. It served as the rectory for St. Teresa of Avila Church until 2002.

Patrick King said he heard ghost stories about a nun from the church who baked pies with apples from the yard. When the leaves fell from the apple trees, she said she saw a ghost upstairs in the Stewart Nye house staring at another mysterious figure in a window across Musser Street.

There have been reports of ghosts elsewhere in the neighborhood. During Saturday’s 11th annual Ghost Walk, a man on a tour said he was standing in the back of a group in the Rinckel Mansion when he was smacked on the back of his head.

“There was no one behind him,” said tour guide Tammy Buzick. “He asked (the woman he was with), ‘Did you just hit me on the head?’ She came to me, and I was like, ‘Yeah, right,’ but she said ‘No, really.'”

“It really spooked him,” said Kevin Ray, Ghost Walk organizer. He too has heard stories of encounters at the Stewart Nye House.

One of the first experiences the new owners had involved five or six rolls of paper towels. Dawn King has just come back from Costco with the rolls when the phone rang. She put them on the table in the front room and went to answer the call. When she returned, the rolls were all on the floor pushed up to the baseboard.

“If something’s going to fall off, they’ll end up in sporadic positions, not lined up along the baseboard,” she said.

Things have been pretty quiet since the new owners had a housewarming in May.

They invited the Rev. Jeff Paul of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to do a blessing. The attendees touched the house while Paul asked that its residents be protected.

“We haven’t had anything happen since then,” Dawn King said.

But on Halloween night, she’ll hand out candy at the old house, unsure exactly who else is there. What is certain is, she’ll stay downstairs.

“And I’ll keep the doors open and have my big dog, Skyler, with me.”