Monday, September 11, 2017
HGB Ep. 221 - Jerome Grand Hotel
Moment in Oddity - Zarafa the Giraffe
Zarafa was a giraffe that was gifted to Charles X of France from the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, Mehmet Ali Pasha in 1827. She was captured as a baby by Arab hunters in Sudan and eventually transported by boat down the Nile to Alexandria. She then boarded a ship to Marseilles that had a hole cut through the deck to accommodate her height. The group traveling with her felt that it was too dangerous to take her to Paris by ship, so they decided to walk her the 900km or 559 miles. She had an entire entourage including A naturalist named Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire join her on the walk. Saint-Hilaire ordered a two-part yellow coat to keep her warm and shoes for her feet. The trip took 41 days and she arrived in Lyon on June 6, 1827. A crowd of 30,000 greeted her. Zarafa was presented to the King on 9 July 1827. A crowd of 100,000, an eighth of the population of Paris, came to see her. She was a sensation and giraffe fever swept the country of France. Women arranged their hair in towering styles and spotted fabrics became the rage along with a color referred to as "belly of giraffe." Home decor was plastered with giraffe images. We sometimes take giraffes in zoos for granted. The journey and craze surrounding Zarafa for us living in the modern era, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Mexico Fight for Independence Begins
In the month of September, on the 16th, in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the bells in the town of Dolores Hidalgo and told the local people to start their fight for independence from Spain and recover the land stolen from their forefathers. This was the beginning of the break from Spain for Mexico. The middle class was tied of sharing their wealth with Spain. Two priests became the main protagonists of the Independence: Hidalgo and Jose Maria Morelos. On the 16th, Hidalgo also freed the prisoners in Dolores amd locked up the Spanish authorities. Hidalgo started with a small group of 600 men, but he eventually had 100,000. A little less than a year later, Hidalgo was tricked, captured and executed by firing squad. The fight continued for years and Mexico's first independent government was formed on September 28th in 1821.
Jerome Grand Hotel (Suggested by listener Katie Hickcox)
The city of Jerome in Arizona sits perched above the beautiful Verde Valley on Cleopatra Hill. Today, it is considered an artist community, but it once was considered the "Wickedest City in the West." Like so many Arizona towns, Jerome began as a mining town with a focus on copper. In its heyday, it was one of the richest mines in the world and was dubbed the Billion Dollar Copper Camp. Thousands made the town their home, from miners to prostitutes to lawmen. A hospital was needed for all these people and that is what the Jerome Grand Hotel started as, but in 1996 it became a hotel. Throughout its years, it has earned a reputation for being haunted. Many guests and employees claim to have had experiences. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Jerome Grand Hotel.
William Andrews Clark was one of the richest men in the United States when he was alive. Even today, his fortune would rival that of Bill Gates and William Buffett.When he died, he was worth the equivalent today of $31 billion dollars. But most people don't know him. His contemporaries like Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan have all the notoriety, while he has none. His wealth was derived from an unsexy metal: copper. Clark was one of the great Copper Barons. But that was not the only reason that he is not as well known. He spent most of his time in the wild west and Clark was not a philanthropist that left endowments or buildings with his name on them as a legacy. But he did build towns, many of them in Montana. But Arizona has Clark to thank as well.
In 1876, the first mining claims were made in the area where the town of Jerome would be founded. The United Verde Copper Company was incorporated in January 1883 named for the Verde Valley where the copper was found. William Clark bought the United Verde Copper Company in 1888 for $80,000. He implemented big changes with its operation and innovative technologies were introduced. Clark brought in the narrow gauge railroad and that brought more people to the region. In 1899, Jerome was incorporated as a city. It was named for the secretary of the mining company, Eugene Jerome. In 1903, The New York Sun ran the headline "THIS JEROME IS A BAD ONE. THE ARIZONA COPPER CAMP NOW THE WICKEDEST TOWN."
Copper became a key part of bringing electricity to the masses and in 1909, electricity came to Jerome. The town hit its top population in 1929 at 15,000 residents. In 1935, Phelps Dodge Mining Corp. purchased the United Verde Copper Company for $22,800,000.00 and operated the mine until it closed in 1953. The mine had been open for seventy-seven years and in that time it produced nearly 33 million tons of copper, gold, silver, lead and zinc ore. The population nose-dived to less than 500 and Jerome became a virtual ghosts town. Today, the town plays up its ghost town status as a tourist attraction.
Visitors to the town can't miss the highest public structure in the Verde Valley, the Jerome Grand Hotel. The building was constructed in 1926 by the United Verde Copper Company to serve as a hospital for its employees and their families. The 30,000 square foot and five story structure was built in the Spanish Mission style and was built to withstand the nearby mining blasts. The hospital was also fire-proof and many consider it an engineering marvel since it was built on a 50 degree slope. It was named the United Verde Hospital after the company. By the 1930s, it was the most modern and well equipped hospital in Arizona. The hospital officially closed in 1950 as the population of Jerome dwindled to nothing. And the building sat abandoned for forty-four years with moderate maintenance in case it needed to be used in an emergency. That maintenance stopped in 1971 and then the building was neglected.
The Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation owned the abandoned hospital and sold it in 1994 to the Altherr family. The family began the restoration and decided to reopen as a hotel, which they named after the town, the Jerome Grand Hotel. The doors were opened for business in 1996. Most of the original elements were kept, including the Otis elevator that was installed in October 1926 and the cast iron radiators. The elevator has not been modernized with automatic doors or any other upgrades and surprisingly has been out of order for only a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes in the past 10 years. The door is the old pull the gate. The decor is set to the 1920s and 1930s. The hotel features a bar and restaurant as well and interestingly, the restaurant is named Asylum. The scenery from the hotel is said to be amazing and beautiful. The hotel underwent a recent renovation. Until August of this year, 2017, they had offered ghost tours with raving reviews. The owners decided they didn't want to be marketed as a haunted hotel. They said it was never the intention. So it seems they are taking the misguided direction that the Stanley Hotel went down.
The hotel is reputedly haunted by several specters and all manner of strange phenomena has been experienced. This hotel is thought to be one of the most haunted buildings in Arizona. The television series "Sightings" featured the Jerome Grand Hotel on one of their episodes and a number of paranormal investigation groups have recorded paranormal activity. Shortly after the hospital opened, both patients and staff started having experiences they couldn't explain. There were disembodied voices that featured coughing and moaning and imperceptible talking. These sounds came from empty rooms, leaving nurses feeling uneasy. And speaking of nurses, one of the first full-bodied apparitions ever reported was that of a woman in a white nurse's outfit hanging around one of the hospital balconies. The sounds of coughing and labored breathing have been heard by guests of the hotel as well.
Jerome was full of miners, so it isn't surprising that one of the ghosts seen at the hotel belongs to an old bearded miner. A patient at the hospital made the first reported sighting and he claimed that the miner had been floating down the hall and that he turned on all the lights as he went. Some time later, a nurse reported seeing a bearded man in miner's clothing standing at the end of a hallway. She approached him and he disappeared. This spirit has continued to be seen by hotel guests. He is generally seen on the second and third floor. Room 20 reputedly is home to a ghost cat. Some of the experiences have been threatening. Guests and staff have reported being pushed in the hallways.
One guest was so disturbed by seeing a door open by itself in his room that he ran to the lobby and slept there, unwilling to return to his room while it was still dark. The hotel lobby may not have been the best place though because it is considered the most active area in the hotel. The lobby doors open and close by themselves as though unseen guests are coming and going. Items fly off the shelves in the gift shop. Pictures are pulled from the walls in the lobby and chairs have been rearranged. Desk clerks receive phone calls from empty rooms. When they pick up the phone, they hear no one on the other end. As for the rest of the hotel, objects move by an unseen force and phantom footsteps are heard walking the hallways and the stairs. The cleaning staff have experienced the most paranormal activity. They hear their names called out when no one is there and their cleaning supplies get moved or go missing. Guests and staff both claim that the ghost a little boy around the age of six likes to hang around the third floor.
Kari S. on Yelp wrote, "My son and I had an incredible time at this boutique hotel. The drive to Jerome was well worth it, scary, but worth it. We checked in and the staff was super friendly and explained everything to us (manual elevator, etc.) and we were put in room 37b. This is an absolutely beautiful hotel and it is most definitely haunted. We had many paranormal interactions during our one night stay. The hotel staff also gave my son a copy of the death certificate and a letter from the 24 year old girl's family...she lost her life after jumping to her death from the window in room 37b. If you want more info I highly encourage you to read the journals at the front desk and/or to take the ghost tour with Chris."
Kari on TripAdvisor, reviewed the ghost tour at the hotel and included a weird picture, which we included here:
Many people have died in this building. Do their spirits still remain here after death? Are more than just the living staying at the hotel? The front desk has journals full of guest's ghostly experiences. Is the Jerome Grand Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!