San Fernando Valley Historical Society

Spotlight on SFVHS Vice President, Maria Wessenauer

Remember all those Andy Hardy movies in the 1930s? Mickey Rooney would say,“I have an idea!  Let’s put on a show!”

That is Maria Wessenauer, the imaginative and energetic Vice President of the SFVHS. She’s the one who gets the wide variety of speakers for our monthly (now on zoom) meetings and produces special events like the recent showing of the 1959 sci-fi movie “Plan 9 from Outer Space” at our own Pioneer Cemetery, where much of it was filmed.

Maria was born in Van Nuys to Cuban parents who settled in the San Fernando Valley. She graduated from Los Angeles Valley College with a degree in Child Development. She is passionate about working with children, which has been her life's work, but was unfortunately interrupted by Covid. Several years ago, she was looking to volunteer at a historical organization. “I tried a couple, but the SFVHS just felt like home. I joined in 2016 and became VP 6 months later.”

When she was about three years old, she saw her first ghost, that of her recently departed uncle, who wore a white suit and would play “peek-a-boo” games with her inside the house.  At first, no one in her family believed (or wanted to believe) her ghost story, but as Maria grew older, other family members confided that they, too, had seen the same apparition inside the house. She also found out that her mother had seen other ghosts at other locations in the Valley. This led to Maria’s fascination with all things paranormal and spooky.  “My whole life was a superstition,” she playfully says about her family’s fascination and fear of ghosts.

A lover of haunted places, horror movies, Old Hollywood, and punk music, Maria is now a popular local historian and pop culture aficionado. She is the brains and beauty behind “Hollywood Exhumed”, which she created, in order to share her wealth of collected information along with little known historical facts and ghost stories found in the San Fernando Valley and beyond. She was featured on a segment filmed at the Adobe which aired on Telemundo 52 Los Angeles. (There is a link to the program on our Facebook page. It’s in Spanish, but you’ll probably understand it.) She has been on “Creepy AF: Paranormal”, Dread Central Brainwaves Radio, and she is a frequent guest on a variety of podcasts that highlight history and the paranormal.

You can follow her: #hollywoodexhumed on Instagram and Hollywoodexhumed on Facebook.

She currently lives in the Valley with her husband, her cat “Tiger”, and at least one household ghost.

We are so grateful that Maria shares her enthusiasm, energy and imagination with us!