The Eerie Archive: Great American Ghosts
Ghosts and goblins are notorious for making their presence known around Halloween, but at some members of Historic Hotels of America, otherworldly visitors appear year-round. These spirited specters range from former owners to chambermaids and bellmen to mysterious guests who never check out. Some move furniture, play pranks on the hotel staff or knock on guestroom doors, while others are merely mystifying presences. Sharing space with these animated apparitions makes staying at Historic Hotels of America a ghostly good time.
If you check into room 3327 at the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, Calif., you might share a room with Kate Morgan. In 1892, the young Mrs. Morgan checked into the hotel to meet her estranged husband. To her dismay, he never showed. Several days later, Kate's body was found on the hotel steps leading to the ocean. Since her tragic death, witnesses have been puzzled by odd noises, spirited breezes, strange faces and the ghostly figure of a young lady dressed in a black lace dress. Could it be that she is still waiting for her husband in room 3327?
One night after an argument with her husband, Sallie White, a chambermaid at The Menger Hotel in San Antonio, stayed at the hotel presumably with another man. The next day her husband threatened to kill her. On March 28, 1876, Sallie was attacked by her husband and died two days later. The hotel paid for the funeral cost of $32, as recorded in the hotel ledger. Legend has it that Sallie White still roams the halls of the Victorian wing of the hotel. A few years ago, a guest wanted extra towels. He opened the door of his room and called out to a maid who ignored him. The guest called the front desk to inquire why the maid was so rude. He described the maid and her uniform -- one that was worn in the late 1800s, about the time of Sallie's employment at the hotel.
"Time is infinite. I wait for you by our fountain . . . to share our timeless love, our destiny is time." Thomas Rowe received this note upon the death of his beloved Lucinda. The two met in the 1890s when Rowe was studying in Europe. Lucinda's parents forbade the relationship and the forlorn Rowe returned to America. For years his letters to her were returned unopened.
In 1925, Rowe built the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The lobby of the hotel included a replica of the courtyard and fountain where Rowe and Lucinda used to meet. Although the fountain no longer exists, employees at the Don CeSar tell tales of seeing a couple who suddenly appear walking hand-in-hand in the hotel and then disappearing.
The "Lady in Green" is said to walk the Hall of Mirrors and Mezzanine level of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. Several construction workers reported seeing the "Lady" during the hotel's 1983 renovation. According to legend, her husband, a hotel laborer, was killed in the construction of the hotel in 1930. His body was never found and his wife, the "Lady in Green," spends her restless nights searching for him.
"Here Comes the Bride"
Built as a country home in 1902 and operating as an inn since 1927, the Lighthouse Inn in New London, Conn., has seen many brides. A long-told story speaks of a young bride getting married at the inn who fell walking down the grand staircase. She slipped, fell down and broke her neck. Since this event, there have been sightings of a young woman dressed in a period wedding gown sitting in a guest room reading a book, walking on the third floor and roaming through some of the rooms.
More than one bridegroom has inquired about the mysterious bellman at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island, Ga. It seems this "bellman" is dressed in a cap and suit reminiscent of a 1920s movie. He delivers freshly pressed suits to bridegrooms and has been seen mostly on the second floor, knocking gently on the guestroom door announcing his delivery.
Built in 1886 as the Hatt Mill Building, a warehouse and feed store, it is now The Napa River Inn in Napa, Calif. The son of the building's original owner, Captain Albert Hatt, seems to still be visiting. Albert Jr. married a woman named Margaret in 1889 and together they had five children. Margaret died in 1906. Within a few years Albert Jr., 46, was overwhelmed with caring for his five children and in poor health. On April 1, 1912, Albert Jr. hung himself from a beam in the warehouse. It is the area now occupied by Sweetie Pies Bakery.
Nancy Lochmann, general manager of the hotel, says the first ghost sightings when the hotel opened were visions of a woman. "A woman in a white dress, who seems to be searching, looking for someone," says Lochmann. "It might have been Margaret, so much in love with her husband, perhaps trying to stop him from taking his life."
In another story occurring in the guest room above Sweetie Pies Bakery, a guest tells of hearing a heavy dress sway down the hall and the door opens in room 208 then shuts. The guest then heard what sounded like a man's footsteps. A door at the other end of the hall in room 207 opened then closed with force. Next, the guest heard walking down the hallway toward room 208. The guest sees nothing. Could this be Margaret and Albert Jr.?
At the Pierpont Inn & Racquet Club in Ventura, Calif., many otherworldly sightings have occurred since the hotel underwent renovations near the start of the 21st century. It is believed that many of the recent "visitors" are the spirits of previous owners checking in on the progress of the restorations.
One such visitor is thought to be Eliza (Emma) Darling. She died in 1997 and this is when her spirit began appearing at the hotel. She was good friends with Mattie Gleichmann who owned the hotel for 70 years.
Her spirit has been seen in massage rooms, dancing in the parking lot or leaving wet footprints on the lobby floor for the cleaning crew. She is always described being dressed for a formal, serious occasion such as a funeral.
The mysterious Pink Lady at The Grove Park Inn Resort in Asheville, N.C., has been seen, felt and experienced by hotel employees and guests for more than a half century. Little was known about the Pink Lady - just a swirl of stories about a young woman dressed in pink who fell to her death in the Palm Court atrium around 1920. Mere rumors, tales and lore weaving through the inn's rich history. In 1996, the Grove Park Inn conducted in-depth research on the Pink Lady phenomenon and the resulting evidence focused on room 545, two stories above the Palm Court atrium floor.
A painter from the late 1950s or early 60s and the hotel's current engineering facilities manager have reported strikingly similar tales about room 545. Both got cold chills on their way into the room so severe they never again attempted to enter. Interestingly, neither employee knew of the other's experience, or about room 545's connection to the Pink Lady. Another employee who has seen the Pink Lady several times over the past five years describes the apparition as "a real dense smoke - a pinkish pastel that just flows. It's a real gentle spirit, whatever it is."
The Inn's guests have also had encounters wit the Pink Lady. In September of 2001, guest Mike Mooney read about the Pink Lady before traveling to the Grove Park Inn. At about 11:00 on the night of his arrival, Mooney went through the atrium to get a soda from the vending machine. No one else was in the atrium. Mooney describes the experience. "The room felt heavy when I walked in but I didn't think anything of it.
However, when I returned with the soda and passed the old bench chair, the hair on the left side of my body just stood on end and bristled. I also felt something tugging at my left ear as I passed the chair. I paused for a second but as soon as I went passed it, the hair went down and I ran like hell back to the room!"
Several years ago, Kathy J. Urbin of Blountville, Tenn., felt the Pink Lady. She traveled to the Grove Park Inn in January 1998 with her husband and two teenage daughters She was awakened about midnight by what she thought were guests checking into the adjoining room and comforted herself by holding her husband's hand. "Implausibly, I realized that the hand I was holding was on my left side and that my husband was lying on my right side." Thinking that one of her daughters had been startled, Urbin turned to the left expecting to find one of the girls. To her complete surprise, no one was there, and, instantly, the experience of holding a warm hand was gone. Feeling confused by the experience, Urbin mentioned it to a front desk clerk and was told that no one was staying in the room adjoining hers. The clerk referred her to a book about the history of the hotel. After reading the book, Urbin concluded that she "must have held the hand of the Pink Lady herself!"
While the research left too much evidence to write off the Pink Lady as just a fantasy, there are no definitive answers - after all, the Pink Lady is a ghost.
Clover Adams is a lingering resident at The Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C., Clover's husband, Henry Adams, was in the final stages of building his side-by-side mansion on Lafayette Square (adjoining John Hay's property - which is now the location of the hotel) when Clover took her life in 1885. While some whisper that it was murder, no one will ever know all of the facts surrounding the mysterious event. Clover did suffer bouts of depression and had recently lost her father.
Today, hotel staff report that the fourth floor of the Hay-Adams is Clover's favorite place. They agree that she is most active the first two weeks in December - coinciding with the anniversary of her reported suicide on the fourth floor of the home that Henry and Clover were renting, next door to their new house which was under construction. Examples of staff experiences include unexplained opening and closing of locked doors of unoccupied rooms; clock radios mysteriously turning off and on; the sounds of a woman crying softly in a room or a stairwell; or a voice of a woman asking a housekeeper, "what do you want?" when the room appears totally empty. Some housekeepers have been called by name and others have received a hug while cleaning rooms.
The Victorian 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs, Ark., hosts a wide variety of spirits. In the hotel's Crystal Dining Room, many employees have encountered playful spirits in Victorian dress. One holiday season while the dining room was closed, the grand Christmas tree and packages underneath moved from one end of the room to the other. The next morning employees found the tree and packages moved with chairs circling and facing the newly placed holiday symbol. Another time, employees returned in the morning to find the dining room in perfect order except for menus scattered throughout the room. Yet another time, a waitress looked into the huge mirror between the doors from the dining room to the kitchen and saw a man and woman in Victorian garb facing each other as in a wedding. The groom turned and made eye contact with the waitress and then the couple faded away. The waitress quit her position shortly after this incident. Another common encounter is a man in Victorian clothing sitting at a table near the windows saying "I saw the most beautiful woman here last night and I am waiting for her to return." Many have recounted seeing apparitions in Victorian ball attire dancing around the room during the wee hours of the morning while the room was closed and dark. The Crescent Hotel has so many ghostly tales to tell that tours are held at the hotel throughout the year.
The Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites in Mendocino, Calif., opened in 1878 as the Temperance House and was a sanctuary in a lively logging town of saloons and pool halls. The hotel's history did not always remain so pristine. For a number of years, the hotel was a bordello. The aura of this era can still be felt in the hotel. A Victorian woman haunts tables 6 and 8 in the restaurant, where she appears in the mirror. She is known to visit guestrooms and to be playful with the housekeepers.
In 1995, a bartender at The Tutwiler in Birmingham, Ala., was responsible for turning everything off in the restaurant and kitchen at the end of the day. Since it was past midnight, he was the only person on duty. He began by turning off the lights in the bar, then the restaurant and then he would go downstairs to turn off the stoves and the kitchen lights. He clocked out but noticed lights were on again in the bar, as well as in the restaurant and, in the kitchen, the lights and stoves were on. He then turned everything off again. The process was repeated four times before the bartender finally left.
The next day, the hotel general manager wanted to know why everything was left on. The bartender explained what happened. The scenario repeated itself for five nights and each following day the bartender got in trouble. On the sixth day, the general manager called the bartender at home and told him to come to the hotel immediately. He could not believe his eyes. Someone had cooked a multi-course meal with candles, had drawn the curtains and took a very old bottle of wine out of a locked cabinet. For years, rumors spoke of the spirit of Colonel Tutwiler, a local businessman, roaming the halls of the hotel. The bartender resolved the situation. Every night, the bartender would say, "good night colonel, please leave the lights and stoves off and don't make a mess."
Considering its location, one might imagine that the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley National Park, Calif., might be haunted by wayward '49ers, prospectors who became lost in the region. However, the only "haunting" taking place in this historic inn is by a friendly phantom, the spirit of Chef James Marquez. From 1959 until 1973, Chef Marquez worked at the Furnace Creek Inn. Illness forced his resignation in 1973, just three years before he died. Since then, doors at the inn, particularly in the kitchen and dining room, have mysteriously opened and closed on quiet mornings with no wind for miles. Employees have reported hearing noises from the dining room in the middle of the nights, and, legend has it that the kitchen has been mysteriously rearranged. Could it be that from time to time, the spirit of Chef Marquez returns to his happy hideaway in Death Valley?
Located on scenic Lake George, it is no wonder past guests keep wanting to return to the beauty of The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, N.Y. The Trillium, the resort's fine dining restaurant, is regularly visited by the image of a couple who were among the hotel's first guests in the 1880s. They descend from the second floor and take a seat in the restaurant's reception room before departing. Mr. Brown's, another of the resort's dining outlets, was visited by an apparition of a tall woman dressed in long, white evening attire with flowing sandy blond hair. She spoke to a prep cook, then proceeded to walk toward him, then through him and disappeared. The cook packed his things, quit his job and never returned to the resort.
The phone at the front desk of the Paso Robles Inn in Paso Robles, Calif., seems to receive mysterious calls from Room 1007 on a regular basis. At first, the inn's management wrote the calls off to a glitch in the phone system. Mike Childs, head of maintenance at the inn, even went to the room to inspect the phone line. While standing in the room, he witnessed the phone light up and call the front desk. When he tried calling the desk himself, the phone, which has two lines, cut him off and called the front desk on the second line. The spirit took matters into its own hands one night and placed a call to 911. When police arrived, they found the room unoccupied. General Manager Paul Wallace attributes the call to a story in a 1940 newspaper article. On December 19, 1940, night clerk J.H. Emsley discovered a fire on the second floor of the hotel. Emsley rushed downstairs, sounded the alarm and then died of a heart attack on the spot. Thanks to Emsley's action, all of the hotel's guests were evacuated, but Wallace thinks the ghostly clerk doesn't know that.
A few years ago, The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver embarked on an extensive refurbishment of its top two floors. From 1937 to 1986, permanent guests lived in the twenty apartments on these floors. Coincidentally, during the renovation, Julia Kanellos, the hotel's historian, conducted a series of historical tours highlighting the stories of some of those permanent residents. One tale was about Mrs. Louise Crawford Hill who ruled Denver society and lived in room 904 for fifteen years (1940-1955). Soon after the stories about her life and heartbreak over a lost love were recounted on the tours, the hotel's main switchboard began receiving calls from room 904. When the hotel operator answered, there was nothing but static on the line. This was a great mystery because the room was stripped of furniture, lights, wallpaper, carpet and telephones due to the renovation. Kanellos eliminated Mrs. Hill's saga from the tour and the telephone calls from room 904 ceased.
River lore recounts that Mary B. "Ma" Greene, the woman who co-founded The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. in 1890, was a fierce temperance-backer as well as one of the first female licensed river pilots. She forbade the sale of liquor aboard the family vessels. Following her death in 1949, a saloon was installed aboard the Delta Queen. Just after the first cocktail was sold, a barge smacked into the boat and shattered the bar. Crew members dislodged the barge and gasped as they read its name: Captain Mary B. The intruding tug had been named for the famous lady pilot.
Rosario Resort on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, Wash., was built in 1909 as a private residence. In 1932, Donald Rheem, a California industrialist, purchased the home. Rheem's wife, Alice, created a stir among curious Orcas Islanders. Mrs. Rheem's flamboyant lifestyle included unusual appearances in the village of Eastsound wearing a flaming red nightgown, playing a few hands of cards with the "local boys" at the general store and hopping back on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle to return home. Through the years, employees and guests staying at the mansion have reported bizarre incidents, seen strange shapes and heard the mysterious footsteps of a woman walking in high heels. Perhaps, Mrs. Rheem is continuing her eccentric lifestyle at the mansion.
Charles Pfister, founder of The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, still visits to ensure that his guests are well taken care of at his century-old "Grand Hotel of the West." A "visitor" has been spotted surveying the lobby from the grand staircase, strolling the minstrel's gallery above the ballroom, and passing through the ninth floor storage area. He is always described in roughly the same terms: "older," "portly," "smiling," and "well-dressed." Upon seeing a portrait of Pfister, witnesses swore that it was the man they had seen. If this visitor is Charles Pfister, then he is a most welcome guest indeed.
Guests at Georgia's Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island, Ga., have been surprised to find their coffee sipped and morning paper read. It certainly isn't due to a lack of service or hospitality. Each morning at this exclusive hunt club, Samuel Spencer, president of the Southern Railroad Company, insisted the Wall Street Journal be delivered to his room. For years, it was his ritual to drink a cup of coffee while scanning the paper. In 1906, he was killed instantly in a train accident. For years, club members and hotel guests who occupied Spencer's room, have found copies of their newspaper disturbed, moved or folded in their absence. Coffee cups have been mysteriously poured or "sipped on" when guests returned from the shower or a brief outing.
Prior to the main dining room being renamed Ellyngton's the restaurant space at The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver was known as the San Marco Room, home to big bands and later, the San Marco Strings. One evening, a houseman went to investigate sounds coming from the dining room. Upon entering, he discovered a quartet of formally dressed musicians practicing their music. The houseman was not amused as it was long past closing time. "You're not supposed to be in here," he said. They replied, "Oh, don't worry about us. We live here."
The Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans dates to 1886 and is home to several friendly spirits. Recently, the International Society of Paranormal Research (ISPR) of Los Angeles conducted investigations at the hotel. According to Andrea Thornton, director of sales at the hotel, "The findings are in accordance with what guests and employees have been experiencing for years." She continues, "Most of the reports we receive about our ghosts are sightings, but some detail benign mischief like opening doors and moving soap. We had no idea this investigation would unearth such rich stories."
A handful of stories involve past employees:
The "doormen" of Le Cafe are caught in the act on film by ISPR. For years the doors of Le Cafe have unexplainably opened and closed. Employees attributed this occurrence to a draft although they could not find the source. Investigations captured on film show that the mysterious opening is caused by the spirits of two former employees, one, a maintenance worker who prefers the doors open as they were when the area currently occupied by Le Cafe was a maintenance area. The other entity is a butler or a waiter;
"Ms. Clean," a maid for whom good housekeeping is a family affair (she, her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all worked at the hotel). When ISPR asked her why she continues to haunt the hotel she replied that she picks up after the current housekeeping staff ensuring the hotel is cleaned to her high standards; and
"Red" is a middle-aged man and a faithful engineer from years past who continues to make his rounds at the hotel.
Guests That Never Check Out
One evening while working in the main hotel at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, N.Y., employee Patricia Allen-Roberts, used the elevator outside of Trillium restaurant to return her dinner dishes to the employee cafeteria.
"We have a courtesy rule that employees do not get on the elevators with the guests, said Allen-Roberts. "I checked out the elevator very carefully, making sure it was empty. I stepped onto the elevator. The door closed and I pressed the button for the basement. I stepped back one step and bumped into a person. I turned quickly to apologize for bumping into him. No one was there. But slowly, a man materialized. He was a portly man with a walrus mustache. He was dressed in a three piece brown suit. Spanning his vest was a gold watch fob."
Allen-Roberts continued, "As I stood next to him I kept getting impressions of what may have been going through his mind. This imposing figure-obviously someone very important-was either on his way to a good smoke or had had a good smoke."
Upon reporting this incident to security, Allen-Roberts learned that Trillium was originally a men's parlor where men could go to smoke and play cards. This spirit has been named "Walter" by the employees at The Sagamore and his presence is seen often. In the smoke-free environment of today's Sagamore, Walter must be an unhappy soul.
In the 1970s, a guest at La Fonda in Santa Fe, N.M., called the front desk to complain that someone was walking up and down the hallway in front of his room. Employee Lalo Ortega was sent to investigate. Ortega saw a tall man in a long, black coat disappear into a stairwell. Ortega could find no trace of the mysterious visitor but the legend still haunts the hotel.
Two housekeepers at The Equinox in Manchester Village, Vt., encountered a spirit while cleaning the two-story Green Mountain Suite one day. They made the beds on the first floor and then split up to do the upstairs beds and bathrooms. When they returned to do the downstairs beds the sheets, blankets and pillows had been ripped off the beds and thrown about the room. No one is sure of the identity of the mischievous specter or why it would play this game.
In 1651, the Monastery of Our Lady Carmen of San Jose was inaugurated. Better known as the Carmelite Convent, the building had been the former home of a noblewoman, Dona Ana de Lansos y Menendez de Valdez, who lost her husband in a battle with the Dutch.
After his death, Dona Ana chose to devote herself to God and donated her home, its adjoining land and all her possessions to have a convent erected on the site where she lived with her beloved. Dona Ana was the first to enter the cloister and became Mother Superior.
Today the site is home to Hotel El Convento in the heart of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel is visited by the spirits of Dona Ana and her cloister, as they walk the halls in silent prayer, just the swish of their robes making any sound at all and kicking up just the slightest of breezes in the night.
Established in 1982, The Windsor Hotel in Americus, Ga., is no stranger to paranormal activity. Guest and staff have reported seeing and hearing the voice of a little girl on the third floor of the hotel. The little girl runs, laughing down the hallway at night. Additionally, kitchen staff has reported seeing pots and pans flying at nights and being mysteriously misplaced.
Christine Donovan, director of heritage programs at the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, Calif., has researched the phenomena of ghosts extensively. She even wrote a book about the hotel's most famous ghost, Kate Morgan. But not all of The Del's paranormal activity can be attributed to Kate nor are all the occurrences grand. Donovan claims, "It is the decidedly non-dramatic aspects of most of the stories that has made a believer out of me."
"For instance, a doctor emailed me that during his stay, his shoes and socks (which he always carefully placed by his bed at night) would end up all over the room by the time he woke up. In my mind, that's not enough of a story to have made up. In addition, it fits very well with other paranormal accounts I've heard about objects being tossed about a room for no apparent reason," says Donovan.
Donovan, who has yet to encounter Kate or any other kind of paranormal activity at The Del, says that suits her just fine. "I always say there are two kinds of people in the world-those that would like to see a ghost, and those who wouldn't. I'm definitely in the second group."
It appears that the resident ghost at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C. is fixated on a particular guestroom. Dr. William P. Jacocks, a physician with the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation, retired to Chapel Hill and lived at the inn from 1948 until his death in 1965. A kind and gentle man, he had a fun-loving sense of humor and seems to enjoy teasing guests who stay in his room on the third floor by locking them out occasionally. Last fall, a couple returned to the room to find that their electronic keys wouldn't work. Hotel maintenance workers, unable to unlock the door, had to climb a ladder and crawl through the window. Once, the room's door had to be taken off its hinges because it could not be unlocked.
Escaping the heat of Washington, D.C., Mary Todd Lincoln and her children spent two summers at The Equinox in Manchester Village, Vt. The family planned to return the summer of 1865, but plans changed following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The family's ties to the area continued and strengthened with son Robert Todd Lincoln's purchase of neighboring estate Hildene. Employees at the hotel report seeing images on the third floor of a woman and a child that are consistent with descriptions of Mary Todd Lincoln and one of her sons. Perhaps through their visits they are trying to recapture the carefree days of those summers.
The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. hosted its first Inaugural Ball, honoring Calvin Coolidge, on March 4, 1925, just two weeks after the hotel opened. Mourning his sixteen-year-old son's tragic death from blood poisoning, the president did not attend the ball.
In 1937, Inauguration Day was changed to January 20. The hotel has since experienced unusual occurrences on January 20. In the Grand Ballroom, the lights seem to dim and flicker around 10:00 p.m. It was at this hour that the fanfare announced the guests of honor at President Coolidge's Inaugural Ball. The electrical circuits have been checked by experts who can find nothing wrong. Hotel staff have reported finding a plate of exquisite hors d'oeuvres along with a glass of fine wine left in the Grand Ballroom balcony. Strangely, neither item was served at any function on that day. One elevator refuses to move from the eighth floor to the lobby level until 10:15 p.m. This is the approximate time the President would have arrived from his holding room to the ball.
Knowing that he missed his Inaugural Ball at the Renaissance Mayflower, perhaps "Silent Cal" Coolidge is making up for that historical evening and attending, in spirit, each January 20.
At 3:00 a.m. on June 6, 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, a guest in room 144 at The Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, Calif., awoke feeling a bit odd. Suddenly, she heard heavy footsteps on the staircase outside of her room. Up and down, several people ran stomping on each step and a door was repeatedly slammed. This continued for a while. At last, the frightened guest opened the door and peered out but theere was no one to be seen. She was certain she heard multiple heavy footsteps of men running up and down the uncarpeted stairs. She discovered the slamming door was not from a guest room but rather from a meeting room. She notified hotel staff and was assured no late-night meeting was taking place in the room. At her request, the guest was moved to another room so she could sleep a bit easier.
The meeting room in question was the Sun Room. Sixty years ago, the room was used as a temporary barracks for single servicemen during World War II. The area did not have carpet at the time. Hardwood floors still exist under the carpet today. The historic battle known as "D-Day" occurred on June 6, 1944. Perhaps what the guest heard was the spirit of those soldiers who were reliving the events of the 60th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.
In a former life, the grandiose building now home to the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C., was once the nation's first General Post Office. An extensive rehabilitation of the historic building was undertaken in 2001 to transform it into a luxury hotel. One afternoon a construction worker was startled by the sight of a beautiful woman standing in the courtyard's entrance-an area off limits to the public. He was perplexed by her attire - she was dressed head to toe in clothing of the Civil War era. She stared longingly out towards the street, as if she were waiting for something or someone to arrive, and then disappeared into thin air.
Confused by what he saw, the construction worker sought an explanation. Why was she there, and what was she waiting for? He later found out that in the Civil War era, home delivery of mail did not exist, so it was common to see women pacing the courtyard of the General Post Office eagerly awaiting the delivery of the day's mail for news of loved ones. Paranormal experts believe the construction worker witnessed a ghost, awaiting a letter from her husband who was off at battle. Her anxious expression was likely due to her hopes that she would be receiving a love letter, rather than a letter informing her of his death in the line of duty.
The sighting has made the courtyard of the Hotel Monaco a popular part of the Civil War Capital bus tour, but the courtyard isn't the only part of the hotel that is thought to be haunted. Legend has it that Hotel Monaco's Paris Ballroom was used as a surgical room during the Civil War. Guests and employees of the hotel have reported hearing whispering in the ballroom thought to be the murmurings of doctors in surgery, and many have claimed to see the ghosts of doctors and nurses hurriedly walking the hotel's long corridors.
New Orleans is a city full of mystery. Hotel Maison de Ville and the Audubon Cottages are no exception. Jewel France, a 23-year employee of the hotel, was the first to encounter "the soldier." Some 20 years ago, she opened the door to Cottage No. 4, allowing a guest to enter first. "Anyone ever tell you this place is haunted?" asked the guest. France looked in and saw a man dressed in a military uniform in the room. She felt a chill and shook a bit and the vision disappeared. "I've never liked Cottage No. 4 since then," comments France. The hotel plays classical music in the rooms as guest arrive. France reports that the soldier doesn't like classical music on the radio. "As soon as I leave, the ghost changes the radio to loud country music," says France. "I'll go back and reset the radio but when I leave again, it changes back."
General Lloyd Aspinwall, a founding member of the Jekyll Island Club in Jekyll Island, Ga., was to be its first president. However, he died unexpectedly on September 4, 1886, more than a year before the club would officially open. Letters dated from later years, reveal that certain members had seen the general, hands clasped behind him in military manner, walking the Riverfront Veranda about dusk...on September 4th. Today, that area of the veranda is a sunroom that, interestingly enough, bears the name, the Aspinwall Room.
Past Life Experiences
In the 1930s, The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Ark., became an experimental cancer hospital. "Dr." Norman Baker, claiming to be a licensed physician, examined cancer patients in the hotel's basement while charging unsuspecting families their life savings. Several apparitions from the hospital visit the hotel today. "Dr. Baker" has been seen in the hotel lobby. He is described as a man in a purple shirt and white linen suit matching photographs of the infamous entrepreneur. "A nurse pushing a gurney" residing in Dr. Baker's old morgue area is known to squeak and rattle down the halls of the hotel. A hotel maintenance man witnessed all the washers and dryers mysteriously turn on the middle of the night. The laundry room is located next to Dr. Baker's old morgue which still contains his autopsy table and walk-in freezer. Housekeepers report meeting "Theodora" in room 419. She introduces herself as a cancer patient of Dr. Baker's and vanishes after courtesies are verbally exchanged. Ghost tours are conducted throughout the year at the hotel by trained clairvoyants.
More Tales of the Unexplained
Located on Lake George, The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, N.Y., offers golfers the challenge of a Donald Ross, par 70 golf course. Today guests may see the spirit of a little boy from the early 1950s on the golf course or near the Club Grill. The boy was known to chase errant golf balls to sell back to the pro shop but was hit by a car while chasing balls and died.
The Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass., is surrounded by historic buildings, many of them built by the Salem sea captains who founded the Salem Marine Society in 1766. The society's building was razed for the construction of the Hawthorne Hotel in the 1920s. Some wonder if the spirits of these dynamic seafarers still return to the site they knew so well. Employees and guests alike have witnessed the large ship's wheel, used in the nautical decor of the Main Brace Restaurant, turning back and forth as though following a ghostly course even though no one was near. Those who stopped the wheel found that it immediately resumed its motion. At least one houseman working in the Lower Deck meeting room has refused to work nights after several instances in which his room setups were rearranged the opposite direction.
It is said that after the skeleton frame of The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs, Ark., had been constructed in the 1880s that one of the Irish stone masons plunged to his death in what is now room 218. This room proves to be the most spiritually active room in the hotel and has attracted television film crews for decades because of the quantity and quality of the sightings reported. Throughout the history of the hotel, employees have referred to this entity at "Michael," a classified poltergeist due to the nature of the unexplained activity. Guests have witnessed hands coming out of the bathroom mirror, cries of a falling man in the ceiling, the door opening then slamming shut, unable to be opened again. The intrigue of this activity had drawn guests to specifically request room 218 for the chance of experiencing something.
At the The Brown Palace, a night-duty engineer encountered a spirit in an old-fashioned train conductor's uniform. The apparition slowly disappeared through the wall of the hotel's former railroad ticket office. Today, a United Airlines ticket office occupies this space.
Opened in 1933 near the end of the Prohibition era, it is believed that The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., was a place where patrons could enjoy spirits-the alcoholic kind. Today, the hotel's Speakeasy restaurant has been the location of other kinds of spirits. Early one morning, Chief Engineer Ignacio Choza was repairing a pipe in the Speakeasy. A visitor, who could not be seen, sat down next to Ignacio and let out a large sigh as he made himself comfortable. Ignacio asked the entity if he was going to speak and the ghost left the area. Another time, Ignacio could see transparent guests in the room. As Ignacio approached, the guests dissipated. Houseman Domingo Pardo also has unexplained experiences in the Speakeasy. The restaurant was empty but someone repeatedly said "good morning" to him. This continued until Domingo responded back with the same greeting. On a separate occasion, Domingo heard someone enter the Speakeasy as a running pace. No one was visible, but Domingo heard the spirit run by him and out a set of locked doors.
Steeped in legends, Colonial Williamsburg is the restored 18th century capital of Virginia and boasts enough ghost stories to send a chill up the spine. Steve Erickson, general manager of the Colonial Houses-Historic Lodging relays hotel guests' encounters. One guest stayed in the Orrell House (circa 1810) reporting the water was mysteriously turned on in the downstairs bathroom, a glass broken and the upstairs bathroom was wrapped in toilet paper like a Halloween night prank. A Brick House Tavern (circa 1760) guest reported the tramping sound of boots up the steps, through the front door, into her room then out through the gabled roof.
A Ghost Hunt - Paranormal Sleuths Detect Suspicious Sights and Sounds
A team of professional ghost hunters has detected some curious goings-on at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C., where, for years, a ghost has been suspected of playing tricks on guests. In 2002, paranormal phenomena researchers set up super-sensitive microphones, digital cameras, infrared video cameras and electromagnetic sensors in three guest rooms.
Over a four-hour period, the equipment captured the sounds of footsteps in an empty and secured room; an orb-like object moving through the air in one of the rooms; the faint sound of notes from a piano (there were no pianos nearby nor one being played in the inn a the time); and a few softly spoken words including what sounds like "hey" and "might have won."
Who might this ghost be? It is suspected to be Dr. William Jacocks, who lived at the inn from 1948 until his death in 1965. Jacocks liked riddles and jokes, and, over the years, his ghost seems to have enjoyed teasing guests buy locking them out of the second-floor room where he lived.
The findings can be viewed at www.hauntednc.com.
Widely known for boisterous Bourbon Street and the merriment of Mardi Gras, New Orleans is also home to a special mix of spirituality and superstition. Le Pavillon, a New Orleans landmark that dates to 1907, hired a paranormal research team to study the otherworldly visitors at the hotel. The group of psychics, parapsychologists and paranormal investigators identified the overwhelming aura of a frightened and confused teenaged girl. They believe that she lived during the 1840s and is possibly named Eva, Ava or Ada. It appears that she was preparing to embark on a ship when she was struck by a carriage and died from the resulting internal injuries. Their report also indicates the presence of a young aristocratic couple from the 1920s and a dark-suited man from the same era who is reputed to play pranks on the hotel cleaning crew.
Historic Hotels of America is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. HHA has identified 200 hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambience. To be selected for this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized as having historic significance. A directory of member hotels can be purchased for $4.00 by sending a check to Historic Hotels of America, P.O. Box 320, Washington, D.C. 20055-0320. Rooms at any of the member hotels can be reserved by calling 800-678-8946. Reservations made through Historic Hotels of America support the National Trust, a non-profit organization of 200,000 members that provides leadership, education and advocacy to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize our communities.