Hotel Alex Johnson

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Discover Hotel Alex Johnson, which was the vision of Alex Carlton Johnson, Vice President of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.

Hotel Alex Johnson was constructed during the “Roaring Twenties,” in which flappers, the radio, and the Art Deco movement defined the age.

Alex Carlton Johnson, Vice President of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, was a great admirer of the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Lakota Sioux Tribes that called the area home. He dreamed of building a “Showplace of the West,” a tribute to the Native Americans and the Black Hills that surrounded him. On October 3, 1927, just one day before construction began on Mount Rushmore, Johnson began work on the hotel that would bear his name. What emerged was a structural design that was a successful blend of two spirits: the heritage of the Plains Indians that had so captivated Johnson, and the Germanic Tudor architecture, representing the heavy German immigration to the Dakotas.

Less than a year after construction began, the hotel opened its doors on July 1, 1928. The bar off the lobby was named after the first hotel guest to sign the register, Paddy O'Neill's. Thus began a long line of visitors, dignitaries, presidents, and celebrities that would stay at the hotel over the decades. Today, as guests walk into the lobby, they can look down and see the original bricks. In the entrance of the lobby, as well as throughout the hotel, the ""four sacred directions"" symbols are present as a tribute to the area's Native American culture and beliefs. The same symbols are found in many places through the Hotel Alex Johnson and reflected in its one-of-a-kind chandeliers made of war spears. This unique lighting fixture has hung from decorative rafters for over 80 years. Throughout the hotel, newspaper clippings and photos from past events throughout Rapid City's history are present for the enjoyment of its guests. Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton, is truly a South Dakota treasure. As guests learn more about the hotel's rich past, the more they can begin to understand why it is one of the most exemplary historic hotels in America.

  • About the Location +
    Alex Carlton Johnson, Vice President of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, was a great admirer of the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Lakota Sioux Tribes that called the area home. He dreamed of building a “Showplace of the West,” a tribute to the Native Americans and the Black Hills that surrounded him. On October 3, 1927, just one day before construction began on Mount Rushmore, Johnson began work on the hotel that would bear his name. What emerged was a structural design that was a successful blend of two spirits: the heritage of the Plains Indians that had so captivated Johnson, and the Germanic Tudor architecture, representing the heavy German immigration to the Dakotas.
  • Ghost Stories +
    "The historic Hotel Alex Johnson has long been known as one of the most haunted hotels in South Dakota. From the Lady in White to the ghost of Alex Johnson, there have been countless reports of spooky activity. The SyFy Channel’s hit show Ghost Hunters traveled to Rapid City to do a special segment on the hotel, and the investigators reported that they experienced significant paranormal activity throughout the hotel. The Lady in White The most popular and reported ghost story of Hotel Alex Johnson is that of the Lady in White. During the 1970s, it was reported that a young bride committed suicide in room 812. Those that knew the young woman insisted there was foul play, stating that she was much too happy and friendly to commit such an act. The fact that she was to inherit a large sum of money only strengthened their argument. Yet, no one was ever convicted of her murder and the suicide ruling stood firm. Today, guests claim the young bride wanders the halls of the eighth floor in a white gown, searching for those responsible for her death. It has been reported that the window of room 812 is often found open in the morning and that dresser drawers are taken out, turned upside down, and put back in place. Alex Johnson Some guests have reported seeing the ghost of Alex Johnson himself. It is thought that since his death in 1938, he has stayed on the premises to ensure operations are still running smoothly. The Young Girl Some guests of the eighth floor of the hotel have reported that the ghost of a young girl would knock on their door, night after night, only to disappear in the hallway. She's also been heard giggling down the hallway."

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