Haunted History- The Stanley Hotel

stanleyThe Stanley was constructed over a period of 2 years by F.O. Stanley and his wife Flora.  When it was completed, 1909, it was the largest and most modern creature of its kind.  Among the amenities were telephones, a fleet of cars, running water and even a nearby hydro-plant that Stanley himself had designed to provide electricity to the hotel.  The grounds, 160 acres, were purchased from the 4th Earl of Dunraven who is said to be seen in his regular room, room 407.  Typically the Earl is seen standing in the corner, the smell of pipe tobacco wafting around his misty image.  He’s also known to look down from his window, surveying new guests as they arrive.

As a matter of fact, many of the hotels guests loved the Stanley so much, that they’ve apparently checked in to spend their afterlife there.  One visitor in particular that we’re all aware of was indeed Steven King.  King and his wife checked in to the Stanley right at the end of tourist season, the setting for them was much as it was for the  Torrance family from “The Shining”  The hotel was basically vacant, the Kings ate their meals alone in a huge banquet hall, ballroom music echoing down the empty hallways.  Yep, those eerie settings are wild motivation for the twisted minds of horror writers, not unlike myself.

King even had an encounter with the ghost of a small boy during his visit.  The meeting was pretty much uneventful however it was the nightmares that began plaguing him afterwards that sparked the idea for his 1977 novel.

So back to the Stanley ghosts.  Of course the Stanley’s themselves can still be seen tending to the day by day business of running the establishment.  Flora sometimes entertains the guest by playing on her antique Steinway piano.  The piano is in the ballroom, many guest have reported hearing music, when they arrive to check out the scene, some have reported seeing the keys of the piano moving on their own, others have been lucky enough to see Flora sitting on the piano bench, playing one of her favorite songs.

And F.O, Stanley continues to monitor the staff regularly.  He has been seen behind counters observing employees as they tend to their daily routines, he is also known to hang out in the billiards room and the bar, he’s been spotted sitting at the bar with his own drink in front of him.

boyGuests and staff say that it is the 4th floor that is the most haunted, of course we talked about the Earl, however, room 418 has frequent guests of it’s own.  Many 4th floor guests have called the main desk in the middle of the night, complaining about children playing in the hall in front of room 418.  Some folks have been lucky enough to photograph children in the hall or looking down at them from the windows of the same room.  Staff often has difficulty in keeping the linens straight too.  Many of them have fled from the room after having made the bed and then seeing the impression of someone sitting down on it, mussing the comforters!  This is the same room where King had his encounter with the little boy.

Ok, Ya’ll so what’s driving me is the fact that I can’t find any history on this room other than the fact that it’s haunted.   I sure would love to know why the ghosts of the kids are drawn to this room.

LucyThere is another young ghost that is said to haunt the concert hall.  Lucy, was said to have been a runaway.  She was 13 years old when she was found squatting in the basement of the Stanley.  She was discovered by maintenance men that had come down to survey the area prior to doing some major renovations to the concert hall which was directly above this area.  So the maintenance men ran her out of the basement.  Lucy was forced to spend the night outside.  That night the temperature dropped below zero, Lucy was found on the grounds later the next day, frozen to death.

Lucy, doesn’t seem to be bitter and she isn’t a bit shy either.  She has been photographed many times.  She has been recorded often too.  Seems that she’s been there for a very long time and enjoys answering questions by staff and curious ghost hunters.  When she’s not being questioned, she’s often heard humming  distant melodies, perhaps reliving a concert that she had once attended in the grand concert hall.  Hey, maybe Lucy can tell us what the hell happened in room 418!

And then there is room 217, the same room that King stayed in on his 1974 visit.  So there are several versions of what happened in this room, but the gist of the story goes like this:

In 1911 room 217 was the presidential suite. One night in June of the same year, a thunderstorm had taken the power down.  All of the guests had been taken down to the lobby while hotel staff went room by room, lighting the back up acetylene gas lamps.

Room 217 had a gas leak, when chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson entered the room with a lit candle, there was a massive explosion. The blast destroyed about 10% of the then 70,000 sq ft hotel, thankfully it was a compression explosion, which meant that it put out it’s own fire, if it hadn’t have been, the entire wood framed hotel could have been burned to the ground.

Anyway, the force of the explosion sent Wilson crashing into the dining room table of the room below.  She actually survived with nothing worse than 2 broken ankles and a multitude of bruises and cuts.  Hotel owner F.O. Stanley, made sure that the chambermaid was well taken care of.  He paid her her regular wages while she was recovering, he took care of her medical bills and promoted her to head chambermaid.  Wilson wore the title proudly and continued working at the Stanley up until her death in the 1950’s.  And that’s when the haunting in room 217 began.

Guest often complained of things being moved around in their room.  Their suitcases were sometimes unpacked and their clothes placed neatly in the dresser drawers.  And then there were times when Ms Wilson must not have been enthused by the occupants of the room, she’s known to repack guests suitcases as well.  Ms. Wilson is a very proper woman too,  if an unmarried couple stays in room 217, Ms. Wilson is known to climb in bed between them, making sure that they keep an acceptable distance from each other.

Other than these specific ghosts, there are of course reports of whispers and footsteps, disappearing items and lights that turn themselves on and off when no one else is around.  Though there have been plenty of tragedies at the Stanley that would suffice in having rooted these hauntings, perhaps the grounds themselves were haunted long before the hotel was ever built, but that’s a story for another day!

Love Haunted History and Urban Legends?  Catch me live on Armed Radio Global and TuneIn Satellite on Monday evenings 7:00 CT  8:00 EST.  Listen to past episodes on SPREAKER