Flagstaff has its share of ghosts, especially at three of its historic buildings. Since October is the month reserved for ghosts and hauntings, we take a look at some of the unearthly inhabitants of the Weatherford Hotel, the Hotel Monte Vista and The Museum Club. All have their own ghostly residents that thrill and chill staff members and guests.
The historic Weatherford Hotel was built in 1897 and through the years the ghost stories have persisted.
“This story came from a guest when she was staying at the hotel,” said Sam Taylor, who owns the hotel with her husband, Henry. “She woke up in the middle of the night and saw a couple sitting at the end of her bed, and then the couple got up and walked right through the door without the door being opened.”
“Guests send us photos,” she said. “We got photos of a wedding reception and there was a shadow of a person in a mirror who shouldn’t be there.”
Another guest reported a small girl floating across the ballroom and disappearing into a wall.
“People send us photos of orbs. We get lots of ghost hunters. Some get carried away and try to set up equipment,” she said. That activity is discouraged at the Weatherford.
Still, she had an experience of having her dog, which was always at her side, refuse to cross the threshold of the basement where she was doing her laundry.
“She howled at me,” Taylor said.
One of her employees, who was sensitive to the paranormal, told her there were two spirits in the basement – Matilda, the good ghost and Alginon, the bad spirit who liked to cause trouble.
“I think that is what my dog was barking at,” she said.
For those who do see or experience something unearthly, they can get 10 percent off their dinner bill if they share their story.
Jordan Thomas, who was working at the Weatherford while doing his undergraduate program at Northern Arizona University a couple of years ago, said he did not put much stock in the ghost stories that he heard regarding the hotel.
“I didn’t believe or disbelieve,” he said. “If you look for something, you see it.”
Nonetheless, two experiences got his attention. One was while he was closing the hotel for the night.
“It was one of my duties,” he said. “I was walking down the hallway, and to turn off the lights I had to walk down to the end of the hall, turn off the light and walk back in the dark. I flipped the switch and suddenly all of my senses were turned way up. The hair on my arms was standing straight up,” he said.
Thomas describes the feeling as being suddenly overcome with terror, like something horrible was about to happen.
“I did a 180 and sprinted down the hall,” he said.” Standing in the hallway in the dark, I felt cornered.”
Thomas worked at the hotel for about a year. He is now the senior production manager at a graphic design outsourcing company based in Europe. He also tells the story of Bananas the cat who lived at the hotel and who was the best friend of the night watchman, Bruce, who spent a lot of his time in the basement where there is a workshop and boilers.
“Bananas was a fragile little blind cat that kept down in the basement,” Thomas said.
One night, as he as closing up, he heard something in the basement and went down to take a look. “There was Bananas with his back arched looking into the darkness and hissing. I thought there was someone down there. I got my flashlight out and of course there was nothing there. That little cat was blind, but something scared it.”
The Monte Vista Hotel has more than its share of ghosts. “We have a bunch,” said Chelsea Green, front desk manager at the Monte Vista. “Typically, once every other day, people come to the front desk and tell us what happened in their rooms.”
When people arrive, they have the choice of either a “haunted” or “unhaunted” room.
“Of course, we don’t guarantee anything in both cases,” she said with a chuckle.
The most active ghosts at the hotel include an elderly woman sitting in a rocking chair looking out the window waiting for a loved one to return from war.
Actor John Wayne was the first to see a ghost in room 402. “He complained his alcohol and cigars were going missing,” she said. “Some people who stay in the room say they smell tobacco. We think it is a smoking, drinking kind of ghost.”
In room 210, a phantom bell boy about 13 or 14 years old keeps knocking on the door with a room service order. This sometimes goes on all night, she said.
“Two of our most sinister ghosts are two ladies of the night who were brought to room 306 by two malicious men who threw them out the window,” she said. “They are not too fond of men so there is a tendency for men to wake up in the middle of the night and feel pressure on their chests. We recommend this room for bachelorette parties.”
The hotel, built in 1926, has hosted celebrities such as John Wayne, Clark Gable and Bob Hope. More recently, it has hosted actor Edward Norton and author Stephanie Meyer, of the Twilight series. A room has been named after Freddy Mercury, front man for Queen.
The Museum Club, built in 1931, apparently is haunted by a couple who once owned it, Don and Lorna Scott. She fell down the stairs and broke her neck. He, in his grief, took his own life. The two make their presence known by footsteps and creaks in the upstairs where they lived. Lights flicker, chairs rock, and Lorna appears on the back stairs and behind the bar where she has been mistaken for the bartender.
True or not, the spirits add another layer of interest in Flagstaff by attracting the curious to the local haunts. FBN