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Unsettled Spirits Rattle the Halls Inside Some of America’s Oldest Hotels
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WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2005 — As the cool, autumn air rattles the leaves outside, unsettled spirits rattle the halls inside some of America’s oldest hotels. A stay at one of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America member hotels means experiencing fine service and first-class amenities, but for some it may also mean encounters of the supernatural kind. The Historic Hotels of America roster includes properties that date back to the 1600s, some of which host guests who just can’t seem to leave. 

Kitchen Capers 

Steve Garrison, a cook at the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Ark., swears he doesn’t drink on the job. In fact, he doesn’t drink, period. However, Garrison may have been tempted by two strange encounters in the kitchen of the hotel’s Crystal Dining Room. One morning, while slicing and dicing vegetables, he 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.”

It’s a Long Way Down 

A persistent ghost story has haunted the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Wash. Guests 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 has 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?” Perhaps she is still seeking an answer to her question.

Guests and employees at the Windsor Hotel in Americus, Ga., have reported a number of strange happenings over the years. The silhouette of a woman in a long, black gown is reflected in the mirror on the third floor hall. Guests and employees have also reported seeing and hearing the voice of a 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 still haunt the hotel.

Ask old-timers about ghosts at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Ore., and they will all eventually mention Room 703. During a visit in 1999, 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, Char. 

Bartender, Make Mine a Double—or a Case of Double Vision
 

A few years ago, Jody Dolph was working as a bartender in the Cruise Room of the Oxford Hotel in Denver, Colo., 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.” Upon finishing his drink, he left the premises. Jody picked up his empty beer bottle, only 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, but several townsfolk reported having seen him—without any presents. Many believed he had sold the presents, pocketed the money and disappeared. It wasn’t until spring that his decomposed body was found on the way to Central City,
Oxford Hotel
1600 17th Street 
Denver Colorado 80202
with all the gifts still in his possession.

Bruce Barrios met his friend Patrick for a late-night drink at the Pierpont Inn in Ventura, Calif. While seated at the bar, Bruce noticed something that moved in a nearby alcove. He looked hard and saw a vapor-like mist formed as three ribbon shapes floating just above a table in the middle of the alcove. He turned to relay this to Patrick, but when he turned back around, the “mist” had mysteriously vanished. The bartender said Bruce’s face was ashen white. With no one to corroborate his story, Bruce passed it off to fatigue. However, upon leaving the bar, the two men opened the door of their car and were greeted by a powerful, pungent odor of flowers, not unlike those one would find at a funeral. The car was new—no lingering odors. This time, Patrick was there to experience the unexplained smell. 

Hurricane Isabel Stirred Up the Spirits 

In September 2003, during Hurricane Isabel, the guests of the Admiral Fell Inn in Baltimore were evacuated to safety. The only people remaining behind in the hotel were the Hotel Manager John Lowe and several other managers. Everyone stayed on the lobby level. While the group recessed to another room for dinner, Assistant Hotel Manager Iwona Diaz stayed in the lobby to keep watch and handle the phones. When the others returned, Iwona reported that she had heard a lot of noise, footsteps and loud talking in the rooms directly above her in the lobby—like a bunch of people having a party and dancing around. It was jokingly suggested that it must be the inn’s ghosts, who were celebrating the fact that the hotel was empty and they could reclaim their rooms. The next night, John Lowe kept watch in the lobby. As everyone else was down the hall enjoying dinner, he sat on a sofa by the lobby fireplace. Suddenly, he was aware of muffled sounds and many footfalls on the ceiling above. He reported even seeing the floors above vibrate! The “dancing” grew louder and more raucous until it sounded as though 20 people had joined the party. The arrival of another manager and his query, “John, want some pizza?” put an end to the celebration above. 

“Are You Enjoying Your Stay?” 

Many people believe a soul returns to a place that holds significant meaning. In the case of hotels, this may apply to an owner, an employee or a long-term guest. 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.
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Haunted Hijinks 

A guest in suite 612 at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass., finally asked his travel planner to find alternate accommodations after he spent two sleepless nights at the hotel. Throughout the course of the first night, in and out of troubled sleep, he could not quite get rid of the sense that there was a woman in the room with him. He chalked it up to a long flight and overly tired but remained most uncomfortable with the sensation. On the second evening, there was unquestionably a presence in the room and most definitely a female. While he never saw a figure, he did see very conspicuous shadows and light that moved about the room traveling from the parlor area and back to the bedroom as though on constant patrol. In spite of this guest’s experience, the travel planner continues send her clients to the Hawthorne Hotel—and she tells this tale to all of them.
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Hawthorne Hotel
On the Common
Salem, Massachusetts 
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. Although no cause was ever disclosed, both suicide and a drug overdose were rumored. Once the Dohertys vacated the premises, televisions and lights were reported turning on spontaneously at 4 a.m. (the time of Juliette’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, perhaps in honor of Juliette or Helen—or both.

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 helped free Helen’s spirit. This experience was caught on tape.

Rachel, the Civil War Nurse 

Several times a year, guests of the Gettysburg Hotel in Gettysburg, Pa., tell of their friendly encounter with Rachel, a civil war nurse. Believe it or not, Rachel 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. Earlier this year, Rachel made two visits to the same room, with different guests. Each told stories of the dresser drawers being opened, clothes mysteriously being removed and a cold draft or breeze in the room.

Kiss Me, Kate 

Of all the paranormal personalities, perhaps none has the “staying” power of Kate Morgan, resident guest at the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, Calif. Guests and employees have been experiencing 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. Just last year, while filming footage for “Dead Famous,” a long-running English television show, one skeptical 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. Christine Donovan, director of heritage programs and author of Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel Del Coronado, sums up the experiences by saying, “If you have to spend eternity somewhere, what better place than The Del.”

Historic Hotels of America is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Historic Hotels has identified 210 hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. 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 National Trust 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 or at www.historichotels.org. 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. 

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Contact:

Historic Hotels of America
 www.historichotels.org

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Also See: With Hotels Dating Back to the 17th-century, National Trust Historic Hotels of America Often Played Host to Presidents and Sometimes the President Leaves Behind an Interesting Tale / February 2004
Designers Provide Tips on Historic Integrity and Ambiance; Designing for the Ages, National Trust Historic Hotels of America® / December 2003


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