For the average traveler, reports that a hotel might be haunted might not necessarily be perceived as an actual amenity, given that an encounter with unsettled spirits isn’t always associated with a refreshing night’s sleep in the typical wayfarer’s mind.
But, for those seeking palpitations rather than relaxation, the National Trust Historic Hotels of America organization — a collective of 210 historic U.S. hotels, dating back as far as the 1600s, which have “faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance” — suggests a no-kidding haunting Halloween experience with a visit to one of its 40 supernaturally-touched sites. There are group ghost hunting tours available or the option to book a stay in a “preoccupied” room.
Some of the spooky stories:
One morning while slicing and dicing vegetables, Steve Garrison, a cook at the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Ark., looked up and saw a little boy with “pop-bottle” glasses, dressed in old-fashioned clothing and knickers, skipping around the kitchen. Another morning, Garrison flipped on the lights to begin the day’s preparations when “some or all of the pots and pans came flying off their hooks.”
Guests of the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Wash. have reported seeing a woman, dressed in 1920s fashion, wandering the mezzanine, peering over the railing as if looking for someone in the lobby. A recent search through the city’s newspaper archives revealed that the apparition may be that of Mrs. Ellen McNamara, who fell to her death through the hotel’s lobby skylights on August 17, 1920. Her final words, spoken to a physician in the hotel that night, were, “Where did I go?”
Guests and employees at the Windsor Hotel in Americus, Ga. have reported a number of strange happenings over the years including the appearance of the silhouette of a woman in a long, black gown reflected in the mirror on the third floor hall. There have also been reports of a ghostly little girl on the third floor of the hotel, who runs laughing through the hallway at night. The little girl is the daughter of a head housekeeper who used to live and work on the premises in the early 1900s. The woman was murdered – pushed down the elevator well – and her ghost and that of her daughter may still haunt the hotel.
Ghosts at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Ore. seem to confine themselves to rooms ending in the number “3.” During a visit in 1999, Char, a celebrity psychic staying in room 803 claimed to see a ghost at the end of her bed. “The hauntings have all taken place in the column of rooms between 303 and 1003. My theory is that someone once jumped to their death and is haunting the rooms he passed on the way down,” said the psychic.
Jody Dolph was working as a bartender in the Cruise Room of the Oxford Hotel in Denver, Colo. a few years ago when a gentlemen walked in wearing an old post office uniform. He sat at the bar and ordered a beer. Dolph told the man, “that will be $4.25.” The man made a comment about how he remembered when beers were inexpensive. As he sipped his beer, he was heard to mutter, “the children” and “I have to get the gifts to the children.” Then he left. Dolph picked up his beer bottle, shocked to find it was still full despite the fact she and several witnesses had seen him drinking from it. Subsequent research revealed that in the early 1900s, a postal worker was on his way to Central City (a town about 35 miles from Denver) to deliver Christmas presents to the children. He never showed up. It wasn’t until spring that his decomposed body was found on the way to Central City, with all the gifts still in his possession.
A mother and daughter were spending the night in room 1012 at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston. The daughter awoke around daybreak to find a gentleman dressed in attire from the late 1800s standing at the foot of her bed. He sported a large grin, as if asking, “Are you enjoying your stay?” When she smiled back at the friendly apparition, he gracefully vanished. When the young woman descended for breakfast in the dining room the next morning, she was amazed to see her nighttime visitor on prominent display. It was Harvey Parker, founder of the venerable hotel.
When the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. opened in 1930, owner Harry Bralove needed some financial backing. He approached Henry Doherty, who agreed to become a minority shareholder in the hotel and took a suite of rooms where he lived with his wife until 1973. In addition to the couple, the suite of rooms was occupied by their adopted daughter Helen and the hotel’s executive housekeeper Juliette Brown, who looked after the family. Early one morning, Juliette awoke feeling ill, and reached for the telephone. She died before she could complete the call and was discovered by a hotel engineer. Some time afterward, Helen Doherty also died mysteriously in the same suite. Once the Dohertys vacated the premises, televisions and lights were reported turning on spontaneously at 4 a.m., thought to be the time of Brown’s death, and although the suite was unoccupied, guests in the adjacent room reported hearing loud noise coming from next door. The suite has since been redesigned, restored and renamed the Ghost Suite.
In March 2003, the International Society for Paranormal Research spent several days investigating the 1886 Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. Within the six-hour long, documented field investigation, the ISPR team made contact with more than a dozen earthbound spirits. This included and intense encounter with a girl named Helen, who died after falling at the hotel. At the time of the investigation, “Helen” was not aware that she was dead and became very distraught when investigators told her this news. Through channeling, two of the clairvoyants reportedly helped free Helen’s spirit.
Several times a year, guests of the Gettysburg Hotel in Gettysburg, Pa. report friendly encounters with Rachel, a civil war nurse. Rachel reportedly details her frustration with caring for wounded soldiers and their damaged limbs. Moonlit ghost tours stroll through the streets of Gettysburg giving the opportunity to meet Rachel and other wandering souls. In 2004 Rachel made two separate visits to the same room. Each guest reported dresser drawers being opened, clothes mysteriously being removed and a cold draft or breeze in the room.
Guests and employees of the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, Calif. have been reporting supernatural occurrences almost since the day the hotel opened. Many attribute their encounters to Kate Morgan, one of the “The Del’s” former guests, who committed suicide on the beach in 1892. One guest reported her initials appeared to be drawn in a steamy bathroom mirror. In 2003, while filming footage for Dead Famous, a long-running English television show, one staff member was overtaken with a powerful sense of Kate’s final moments and became sickly, too shaken to stand up or even remain in the room.
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