Unfortunately, tragedy struck when a fire broke out and those women who perished in the basement are said to still linger within.
During these events, a woman ran back into a burning building, a Presbyterian Home that had been the centre for helping to free Chinese sex workers and servants. With there being a Chinese Exclusion Act (essentially preventing Chinese women from immigrating to the United States, unless they were married to someone already living there and of high enough 'class') there was a lot of illegal trafficking – poorer Chinese labourers sending for their wives and families through illegal means. Of course there were many unscrupulous persons who took advantage of the situation and many of these women brought into the states were sold into slavery.
This Presbyterian Mission Home was helping to free these abused, enslaved women. They would be taken to the mission, essentially hidden, educated and helped along to a better life – though that life was expected to be 'Christian'.
As the fires raged through San Francisco, the Mission began to go up in flames. The Superintendent of the home, Donaldina Cameron, ran back through the fire in order to save the records that gave her guardianship of the women in her care. If the flames had destroyed these records, it was very likely those she had saved would be forced back into servitude.
It was to be two years before the new Home was to be built, one that was designed with the missions work at the heart.
From here the information gets a bit harder to divide between what is fact and what is legend. As such, the following might lean a little towards the edge of fiction but the best has been done to not completely delve into pure fantasy.
This proved to be a blessing for those hidden within, sure with the security their new lodgings provided, until they were safe from the traffickers and sex slavers. Unfortunately it would also prove to be the place where many of them would die.
Tragedy struck the mission again -a fire started in the building and those hidden in the basement were trapped, suffocating to death, as the smoke filled this underground place of safety.
After the fire it was believed that those trapped in the basement still lingered. Voices have been heard in the lower floors and strange moving lights have been glimpsed through the windows. The basement is said to be sealed with Chinese charms to keep evil spirits at bay.
In 1947, the house was ran by a Reverend Wichman and legend says that during his reign the basement was unsealed and used as the location where he would perpetrate violent abuse against the boys in his care. It is believed that some of these boys also haunt the building.
Cameron House is often cited in lists of San Franciscos most haunted places. Today it serves as the location for an agency that promotes Christian activities within the surrounding Asian community.