When you're stuck in the tiny, old-fashioned elevator of the Lan Mart building, no one can hear you scream.
Anne Bishop—the owner of Pilates With Anne on the second floor—discovered this a few years ago, on her way to teach a class. Because her pilates studio wraps around the elevator shaft, and she knew she had a room full of students waiting for her, Bishop, on realizing the elevator was jammed, called out for assistance. Despite being separated by only a single door, not one person on the other side heard her. "I couldn't believe they couldn't hear me yelling!" she recalls now.
If you're wondering why a pilates studio would have an elevator shaft running through the middle of it, then you've probably never been to the Lan Mart. The historic building harbors an endless number of discombobulating quirks: miniature doors built into random corners, odd crawl spaces, a row of locked doors where there should probably be businesses, and at least one—the staff informs me—secret corridor.
The Lan Mart also contains a confusing number of staircases; a fact highlighted in December 2010, after the dead body of a 52-year-old local man was discovered beneath one by a PG&E employee. Not all of the stairs, however, are accessible to the public. One of the most obvious examples of this are the basement stairs barricaded behind a locked gate, in the middle of a major walkway.
Somewhat predictably, rumors of the Lan Mart being haunted are rife in Petaluma. During my first visit there, two employees from two separate businesses casually mentioned ghostly activity, entirely unprompted, within the first 15 minutes. One, who asked not to be named for fear that it might impact business, told me they often open up and find objects in their shop have moved during the night.