SBCC teacher authors app for historic downtown ghost tours


Alejandro Gonzalez Valle

City College Professor Julie Ann Brown gives a ghost tour on Friday, October 19, in Santa Barbara, Calif. Brown walks you through different locations around Santa Barbara, such as El Paseo, the post office, Lobero Theatre, and other places. The app, Santa Barbara Ghost Tours, is free to download and gives you a ghost tour of of the areas as well.

Giancarlo Van Hemert, Staff Writer

Ghosts are like a well balanced school/social life- you always hear about them, but no one ever seems to see one in person.

Well, now you can at least learn more about them (the ghosts, anyway), and just in time for Halloween. City College’s Professor Julie Ann Brown created Tours4Mobile so users can experience private ghost tours from the comfort of their own homes.

Tours4Mobile was founded and is owned by fellow Santa Barbara local Marie Profant. The script, however, was written by Brown, the chair for Finance, International Business and Marketing at City College. She also runs her own business providing guided walking ghost tours around Santa Barbara. The script was then submitted to Tours4Mobile, and after being approved had an app created to go along with it.

Upon opening the app, users will be greeted by Brown’s voice and a summary of what to expect. This short intro certainly sets the tone for Brown’s narration, which is chatty, enthusiastic and highly detailed. The narration leads users to imagine Brown leaning on the edge of her seat as she recounts her tales.

Once past the intro, one can choose from six main locations, or use their own current location to see which one is nearest. Tapping each location pulls up a number of ghost sightings within that vicinity.

Locations are confined to downtown Santa Barbara and include City Hall, El Paseo and the post office among others, and each post comes with a picture or two to help set the scene along with heavily detailed dialogue.

In fact, this app might fare even better for history buffs and architects as Brown dives into the deep backgrounds of certain buildings and locations before recounting each ghost story. While the stories themselves are interesting enough, it’s hard to verify the authenticity of the claims made, especially when a majority of the ghost sightings seems to be secondhand retellings locally sourced from employees of the properties.

That being said, the educational aspect was one of the most interesting parts of the experience for me, especially as a newcomer to this lovely city. Before embarking on my virtual tour, I had no idea Santa Barbara had a Chinatown or opium dens, and I found myself listening less for the ghosts and more for the historical facts.

The aesthetics of the app were a bit lacking, but I still think it’s a great option for someone who wants to learn more about their town but struggles with mobility (or if you’re like me, wants to sit in bed and pretend like you have a life outside of your home.) And while I still don’t have a balanced school/social life and I didn’t get to actually see any ghosts, at the end of the day I found it to be a welcome respite from the blood and gore we’ve grown accustomed to during Halloween season.