ASTORIA — Held closed by a screwdriver, a rickety wooden door below Gulley’s Butcher Shop divides a storage basement from the dark and eerie essence of Astoria’s underground.
Diana Gulley has wanted to do tours of the space for years, but running the shop took priority over her curiosity.
That was until paranormal investigators Rainier Reyes and Nathalie Kellow came along. One conversation later, the trio agreed Gulley’s should be offering more than cuts of meat.
Aiming for a start date in August, they began creating a new underground tour.
The tour will let visitors snoop through the debris and untouched artifacts that have been sitting below Commercial Street.
Among the mismatched vintage chairs and the remnants of building construction are items like a cigarette machine, a Speed-O-Print printing press and sewing machines from when Gulley’s was a tailor shop.
Other items, like a vase that’s known for moving on its own and mysteriously lacking any dust, make Gulley think her basement might be haunted.
Reyes and Kellow plan to allow visitors to use their equipment on the tour, such as their spirit box, high-depth thermometer and K2 meter, which picks up electromagnetic fields.
‘Something bad happened’
Gulley, Reyes and Kellow are most intrigued by what the space was in its early existence, before the 1922 fire. The original walls that hold up the floor of the butcher shop show where the fire stopped — halfway down the wall. They wonder if when the space was originally built, it was used as a boarding house. The furniture, rooms and bathrooms with wooden toilets indicate they could be right.
Another clue was an old trap door on the ceiling, where it would have connected to the back room in the underground.
“I just know something bad happened down there,” said Gulley, whose parents own the building.
Kellow recalls being told by Gulley not to move or touch anything, and thinks “maybe there’s a reason why nothing has left that place.”
The Gulley’s underground was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.” In the episode, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin were drawn to the space when they investigated the alleged haunting of the Liberty Theatre.
“Ghost Adventures is what really put Gulley’s on the map,” Reyes said.
The episode sparked Reyes and Kellow’s interest in the history of the underground on that particular block, and raised some questions they are determined to answer.
In a town like Astoria, Reyes said, the best stories are passed along through generations of locals, which is where they hope to find more information.
‘We will find the truth’
GhostOria is the name of a Facebook group Reyes and Kellow made in late June, where they share their investigation experiences in the Pacific Northwest. Their motto: “We will find the truth.”
The online group has gained a following of paranormal enthusiasts. Reyes and Kellow update the page with sneak peeks and information about the upcoming tour.
Reyes and Kellow plan to do an investigation of the underground using their equipment. They’re looking for clues that indicate the history of the space as they prepare for the tours to begin in August.
Potential tourgoers can get their name on a waiting list by emailing Gulley’s Butcher Shop or visiting the shop.
“I’m so excited to go back,” Reyes said. “There’s a really in-depth conversation we have to have about everything down there.”