Monday, April 12, 2010

A Bloody Past Haunts The Jerome Grand Hotel

latimes - The bedcovers provide false security. People died on this floor, on the ones above and below. The Jerome Grand Hotel's history has chapters written in blood. Souls at unrest loom, folks say.

Pulling the sheets over your face won't hide the questions that hit seconds before slumber: Is the darkness empty, or is someone there?

The caretaker who hanged himself in the boiler room. The handicapped man who wheeled himself off the balcony. The executive who shot himself in Room 32. The unfortunate maintenance man, Claude Harvey.

Of Jerome's supposed spectral residents, maintenance man Harvey is perhaps the noisiest. The 1926 Otis elevator killed him -- came down on his head in 1935. Accident, murder, suicide? Still unclear. But visitors say strange noises emanate from the shaft where he was found.

The cab moves, unbidden, at all hours. "They say he plays with lights too," said front desk clerk Debra Altherr.

As haunted hotel legend seems to dictate, there's also a "Lady in White." A guest reportedly woke one night to see her standing at the end of his bed, waving her finger.

In a book at the front desk, guests report these and other paranormal testimonies: footsteps, moaning, heavy breathing and untouched doors flying open. But the devoted hunt for digital proof on the hotel's ghost tour, which provides an electromagnetic-field meter, infrared thermometer and a camera.

"Most hotels are down 20-30% in the area," said Bob Altherr, Debra's husband and co-owner of the Jerome Grand Hotel with his brother, Larry. "We were down only 2% last year." Of approximately $500,000 in tourism the town of 450 receives annually, Mayor Al Palmieri figures the ghost-hunting crowd deposits a sizable chunk that is still expanding.

Film crews hoping to catch ghosts materialize often, and lately have been trespassing in the cemetery or in supposedly possessed buildings. "That's starting to become an issue," said Police Chief Allen Muma, who owns the Ghost City Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Ghost-hunters' favorite spot in town is the Grand, which sits 5,200 feet above sea level, edged into Cleopatra Hill, watching over the town and the Verde Valley.

From its high perch, the five-story, Spanish Mission-style building brings to mind the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." (One half-expects a hedge maze and a deranged man pounding a typewriter: All work and no play . . .)

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The Jerome Grand Hotel on Cleopatra Hill was originally opened as the United Verde Hospital in 1927. It was constructed by the United Verde Copper Company to treat injured and sick miners. As the copper deposits played out, the local population dwindled and the hospital was closed down in 1950.

The building had always had a reputation for being haunted as ghostly sounds of coughing, moaning and labored breathing could be heard throughout the wards. In addition, a man named Claude Harvey was killed when he was caught underneath the hospital elevator in 1935. Since that time, lights have been seen in the shaft and during a period when the building was vacant, the elevator could be heard slowly traveling up and down... even though it had been parked at the top of the shaft and no power was connected to it.

After the hospital closed down, the spooky old building remained vacant for 46 years, until it was re-opened in 1996 as the Jerome Grand Hotel. Accounts still say the place is haunted! In July 1997, a guest claimed that the bathroom door in his room opened by itself. He was so frightened that he remained in the lobby for the rest of the night! Other guests and staff members have reported doors that open and close, footsteps heard in empty halls, ghostly cries, lights that turn on and off, and of course, the groaning sound of an elevator that continues to operate on its own!


The minute you walk into this historic building you can feel its ominous past all around you. Like stepping back into days gone by. As you walk through the corridors of the hotel you can't help but feel the essence of those long gone. The hotel and the town itself have been featured in several paranormal television programs and magazines. If ever in Arizona this hotel is a must to visit and the town Of Jerome and the story of the men and women who once worked this old mining town is a wonderful tale indeed. You can't help but feel their presence all around you when you enter the Jerome Grand Hotel. We caught quite a few apparitions with our cameras while in the hotel and also on its balcony which over looks the valley below. The one above is of an apparition in the hotel bar which was vacant at the time we were in it not to open for a few hours later on that night.


A Bloody Past Haunts The Jerome Grand Hotel
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