Thursday, June 15, 2023

HGB Ep. 491 - Glen Tavern Inn

Moment in Oddity - Queen Genepil (Suggested by: Brandon Haawk)

Queen Genepil was the last queen consort of Mongolia. She was executed by Stalinists in May of 1938 during the Soviet Union repressions of her country. Although she was queen consort for less than a year, her likeness has gone on to live through pop culture. You see, Queen Genepil, with her porcelain skin and gravity defying hair and headpiece sculptures, inspired the creation of another queen. The queen of Naboo. That's right, Queen Amidala of the Star Wars franchise. Actress Natalie Portman portrayed the iconic character first appearing in The Phantom Menace. Queen Amidala's garments also heavily mimic those of the Mongolian queen. The dress, representative of Naboo tradition, becomes a statement piece throughout the film series. Although Queen Genepil was nearly redacted from history, the fact that she inspired the style of a pop culture character that the whole world is familiar with, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Birth of Jack Dempsey

In the month of June, on the 24th, in 1895, William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey was born in Manassa, Colorado. He was born to Mary and Hiram Dempsey and was part Irish and Cherokee according to self proclaimed ancestry. During his younger years, Jack worked as a farm hand, miner and cowboy around Colorado and Utah. At the time, Dempsey's older brother earned extra money as a prize fighter. His brother was the one to truly teach Jack how to fight. From 1911 to 1916 Dempsey traveled between mining towns to box 'pick-up' fights anywhere the offer arose. He also began going by the boxing name of "Kid Blackie". In 1914, Jack's prizefighting brother Bernie , who fought under the name of 'Jack Dempsey', fell ill and 'Kid Blackie' offered to fill in for him. William Harrison 'Jack' Dempsey won the fight handily fighting under his brother's boxing name and he never relinquished the moniker going forward. His biggest step into boxing fame occurred on Independence Day in 1919. Jack Dempsey took on world heavyweight champion Jess Willard. The champion, standing at 6 foot 6 inches and weighing in at 245 pounds, was a formidable opponent to the 6 foot 1 inch, 187 pound Dempsey. However, Jack's quickness and boxing style left his opponent defeated in the third round, declaring Jack Dempsey the new world heavyweight champion. Dempsey successfully defended his heavyweight title five times over the next six years, in what is considered one of the greatest runs in boxing history.

Glen Tavern Inn (Suggested by: Anna Frias)

The Glen Tavern Inn is located in Santa Paula, California and was a hotel that prospered during the California oil boom. When Prohibition was enacted, the hotel adapted as a speakeasy and brothel. People have died in the hotel and some of their spirits may still be here. A tragic flood in the city left behind spiritual residue as well. Join us as we share the history and hauntings connected to and inside of the Glen Tavern Inn!

Santa Paula is said to be the Citrus Capital of the World. Before the Spanish arrived in 1769, the Chumash tribe was here before that. Franciscan missionairies founded the San Buenaventura Mission. The city was named for the Catholic Saint Paula and was laid out by Nathan Weston Blanchard in 1872 after he bought the initial 2,700 acres. The citrus that is here was first planted by him in 1874. Santa Paula was incorporated in 1902, but things really didn't take off here until the South Mountain Oil Field was discovered just across the Santa Clara River. The oil field reached peak production in the 1950s, but still continues to produce to this day. We can't talk about the history of Santa Paula without discussing the St. Francis Dam Disaster. The St. Francis Dam was started in August of 1924 and it wouldn't hold for long. The dam was completed in May of 1926 and less than two years later, on March 12, 1928, it broke in the middle of the night. A 180-foot-high wall of water, consisting of eleven billion gallons of water, came rushing down the San Francisquito Canyon and flowed into Santa Paula, killing at least 431 people, but estimates are as high as into the 600s. The flow of water went on for four hours and traveled 55 miles until it reached the Pacific Ocean. This flood would be counted as the second worst disaster in California history. The catastrophic failure was blamed on design flaws and a defective soil foundation. Chief engineer William Mulholland's stellar career to this point, was done after this tragedy.

Left behind are the remnants of a blighted area in the San Francisquito Canyon. The government turned a migrant camp that had been here into a public park. This was also where the cottage for the dam keeper sat. His entire family was killed along with an unknown number of migrant workers. A little cemetery on a hill holds the remains of 100 people, including a whole family ranging in ages from eight to thirty. Another grave is for a little blonde-haired boy who was found deceased, wearing a cowboy outfit. It was later found that his family had been camping and all were killed. When western star Tom Mix heard about the little boy and his cowboy outfit, he paid for his burial. An interesting story claims that a Navajo shaman had apparently dreamed about the disaster before it happened. His people lived and worked on the ranch of film star Harry Carey Sr. who was away in New York at the time. The shaman called him and asked if it was okay if he moved his people back to the reservation for safety and Harry agreed. The dam broke two days later.

There are hauntings connected to the cemetery and the flood. People who try to take pictures in the cemetery, usually have issues with them turning out. Videos do the same thing. A local historian was videotaping in the cemetery and everything looked like it was running good with a visible picture showing and the camera indicating that it was recording, but when he got back to town, he found the videotape was blank. He didn't give up. He returned to record for a second time, but this time his camera caught fire. The park has weird stuff going on at night and most people try to avoid it after dark. Creepy disembodied voices are heard, people have been touched and shadow figures that disappear have been seen. That is really freaky when it is foggy and the shadows are seen in the mist.

Andrew and Joyce Ponton bought property in the area and they have had many unusual things happen. The couple had a grown daughter, but no children living with them. So imagine Joyce's surprise when after painting an inside door jamb, she found a child's fresh hand print. The couple claim to sometimes hear the crying of a baby at a nearby creek bed. The most bizarre thing Joyce reported was that a cast iron horse trough that was so heavy it could only be moved by a crane, had moved itself several feet and completely turned around. The trough was still full of water and there were no drag marks or footprints near it. Joyce didn't believe in ghosts until that moment and she said, "I have to admit the (the horse trough) was strange. That’s the one thing we’ve never been able to explain.” And on that child's hand print, a man was painting his barn in the area and had the same thing happen to him with a child's hand print appearing in the wet paint. There were no children on the property.

Santa Paula has the largest number of historic residential and commercial buildings in Ventura County and one of those places is the Glen Tavern Inn. The hotel was built in 1911 in the Tudor-Craftsman style as designed by architects Burns and Hunt. A group of twenty-five local businessmen funded the building of the hotel. They put it in a prime location right across from the train depot. The hotel was 2.5 stories tall and covered with a stucco facade and dark stained wood shingles. The roof had a gabled dormer in the front and six gabled dormers in the rear. The lobby and stairwell were Craftsman in design and decorated with heavy wood columns, wainscotting, boxed beams and a massive stone fireplace.

The hotel saw a lot of traffic because the trains brought in many people due to Santa Paula's growing citrus and oil industries. The Glen Tavern Inn became a social center. It also attracted Hollywood, which found the cozy hamlet to be the perfect location for filming Westerns with the vistas and hills in the background. The hotel housed many Universal Studio actors. Famous people who have stayed here include pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, William Jennings Bryan, John Wayne, Carol Lombard, Clark Gable, Harry Houdini and Steve McQueen. The stars and other guests not only enjoyed the rooms, but also the restaurant and bar.The hotel was so popular, it often had issues with being able to accommodate all the people who wanted to stay. Charles Estep bought the hotel from the city in 1919 and he converted the attic into more rooms. During Prohibition, that added third floor was converted into a speakeasy and brothel with gambling. 

As the years progressed, Hollywood moved on and the oil industry slowed down and so did people coming to stay at the inn. During World War II, the government was using Port Hueneme (hu nay mee) as a temporary wartime Naval base. They needed more space to house people and they leased the Glen Tavern Inn from Estep, so they could convert it into a women's dormitory. This started in 1943 and continued through 1946. Let's take a little side trip here. The Father of Port Hueneme was Thomas Robert Bard. He was a founder of the Union Oil Company, which was headquartered in Santa Paula. It was called Union because it was the combining of three oil companies: the Hardison and Stewart Oil Company, the Sespe Oil Company, and the Torrey Canon Oil Company. That headquarters building still stands and is a beautiful commercial Queen Anne style building that houses the California Oil Museum. Bard and his wife Mollie built a mansion in Port Hueneme that they called Berylwood in 1912. This was designed by architect Myron Hunt. Unfortunately, Bard died in 1915. Mollie stayed at the mansion until she passed in the 1930s and the home eventually became an officers club for the new naval base. Today, the location is part of Naval Base Ventura, known as the Bard Mansion Catering & Conference Center where they host weddings, meetings, celebrations and business lunches. Bard and Mollie loved the house and have remained in the afterlife. People claim to hear disembodied whispers. Mollie likes to wander the upper floor and has been captured in photos.

A traveling journalist named Frederick visited the mansion in 2020 and he told Backpackerverse, "It was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made, but of course I didn’t know it at the time. At the time, I thought I would walk through the house, snap a few creepy photos and be done with it, but the house had other plans for me. I received a full blown tour of the house, then I got permission to go through by myself in order to get some good photographs. I remember looking down at my camera as I walked through the hall. Something on the camera absorbed my attention and I found myself standing at the base of the stairwell. I remember I began to hear whispers. I knew that everyone else who had gone through the house with me that day were all grouped together in the kitchen, and yet the whispers were steadily pouring down from the upper level above me. ‘Hello?’ I called out and the whispering seemed to cease. Puzzled, I convinced myself that it was just an illusion because of the old duct work and that I was actually hearing the conversation taking place in the kitchen. I took a couple more photos and made my way through the house, only to find that the kitchen and all the rest of the house was empty. I glanced out one of the windows at the front of the house and saw that everyone who was in my group was already outside. I was alone in the house. So when I went back to the staircase and continued to hear the whispering, I became thoroughly creeped out. I looked up the landing and yelped out loud when I heard one of the stairs creak under the weight of something I couldn’t see. I don’t remember what I said to the group, but I booked it out of Port Hueneme then and there. After I got my photographs developed the following week, I was shocked to see this strange floating white orb that seemed to appear in all of the photos I took by the stairwell."

The glory days for the inn seemed over as the train depot closed down in the 1960s. Economic development bypassed the inn and ownership started shuffling. Eventually, it became a glorified flophouse and started deteriorating. Jennett Investment Group came along in 2005 and they envisioned bringing the inn back to its former glory and they spent two years renovating. The renovation hit a hiccup with a fire in 2006, but firefighters got it out quickly and the damaged part was rebuilt. In 2007, Glen Tavern Inn reopened with 36 guest rooms and a restaurant and lounge. The restoration even won some awards.

The Glen Tavern Inn is reputedly quite haunted and has been featured on many paranormal programs including "The Dead Files" and "Ghost Adventures." What is responsible for this activity? Stories are told around town that a cowboy was shot in the head after playing poker at the inn. He had been the big winner and taken all of another cowboy's weekly wages. That cowboy was angry because he thought the other man had cheated and so he followed the big winner to his room and shot him. The hotel claims to have found evidence to support this story. A cowboy hat with a bullet hole in it was found in a crawl space, but the hat went missing at some point. People claim the cowboy's name was Calvin. Another story told is that the body of a decapitated prostitute was found in the closet of Room 307. Her name was said to be Rose. In 2008, a man named Henry hanged himself in the closet of a room on the second floor.

People who have seen Calvin the cowboy claim that the full-bodied apparition appears to be tall and thin with long hair and a goatee. He is dressed in a white shirt. People have caught him in pictures and they know he is a ghost because he walks through walls. Other ghosts who are here include a spirit that looks out the window of Room 23, a female ghost in Room 104 who gives a speech complete with a toast and the restaurant has had spoons fly across the dining area and chairs have moved by themselves.

Monica De La Torre's family has owned the inn for years. Her apartment had been Room 106 and she experienced something strange right after moving in to the hotel. She was putting books and collectibles up on some selves in the family room. The door to the apartment was on that wall and she saw someone enter the apartment out of the corner of her eye. Monica looked to see who it was and it was a woman in a dress from a prior era who just looked at her, turned and walked through the wall. Monica completely froze in fear.

Psychic Patrick Smith stayed at the Glen Tavern Inn and he says he entered his room and saw a woman leaning over the bed as though she were tending to someone who was sick. He felt like he was witnessing a moment frozen in time. A housekeeper named Neria told Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures when they investigated in 2013 that she sometimes sees what she describes as white smoke in Room 307 that takes the shape of a human and then dissipates. She is nervous anytime she is in that room. Billy of Ghost Adventures stayed overnight in this room without knowing anything about the stories told about it. The Ovilus said some words before he went to sleep. In the middle of the night, a light anomaly is caught on the night vision camera as it drops down from the ceiling to Billy's face and he awakens immediately. He grabs the Ovilus to see if he can communicate. the Ovilus says "blow," then "gentle" and then Billy feels something touching his thigh and just as he tells the camera out loud that he felt a spasm on his thigh, the Ovilus says "thigh." Billy was awakened again later by a loud knock from inside the closet.

An elderly couple were staying on the second floor and they found a young girl in their room. There was a Quinceanera going on at the hotel and the group had blocked off 20 rooms for the event. This couple figured the little girl belonged to that group and they called Monica to come up and get her out from under the bed. There was nothing under the bed. On another occasion Neria was asked by some patrons on the third floor if there were a bunch of kids staying on the second floor. They had heard them being rambunctious through the night, which made it difficult for them to sleep. No children were staying in the inn at that time. This is a common complaint of guests, hearing children running, laughing and knocking on doors. A couple staying in Room 205 were awakened one night when a young girl came into their room. They were about to get up and figure out where she belonged when she disappeared. Construction workers were doing a renovation when they witnessed a young girl running down the corridor and through a wall.

Ghost Adventures conducted a seance in the lobby with psychic Patrick Smith. They were joined by actress Brit Morgan who had investigated Room 307 in the past. She said that they heard a knock from inside the closet, which matched up with what happened to Billy. Brit heard loud voices in the hallway around 2:30am and when she looked out the door, she found an empty hallway. As the group is getting ready to conduct the seance, they hear the whistling of a little girl coming from upstairs. They hear the same little girl during the seance a few times, singing and crying. After they break the circle to start investigating, the Ovilus said "girl." The owner Monica was part of the seance and she claimed to be getting messages in her mind about a little girl named Emily who was killed in Room 220. The Spirit Box later would answer the name "Ingrid" when they ask what the little girl's name was. When Zak asked who she was, they get "majita" over the box. That is Spanish for little lady.

Paula wrote in 2016, "I always wanted to stay at the Glen Tavern Inn since watching Ghost Adventures a few months ago. So on Memorial Day weekend my boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to the Glen Tavern Inn in Santa Paula. I managed to book room 307 which is supposed to be the most haunted room. We arrived kinda late, around 8pm. Upon checking in we asked about our room and was told that the 3rd floor is still all original and not remodeled. Upon entering the room, a slight chill came over us, and there was the notorious haunted closet where the woman was murdered. I eventually fell asleep while my boyfriend continued to hear noises coming from the haunted closet for about 30 minutes. The room was clean, staff very friendly and I think we will be returning to the Glen Tavern Inn at some point soon. In the am, we went into the closet and managed to get some creepy EVP's that blew us away. If you're looking for a hotel and cemetery to ghost hunt, it's worth your while to request room 307. I also caught a couple of orbs. One on floor 3, and the other at the top of the stairwell on floor 3 heading down to the second floor."

Jack Osbourne brought his mom Sharon along to investigate the Glen Tavern Inn for an episode of "Night of Terror." The big news coming out of that was that Sharon was hospitalized while filming the show. Apparently she passed out. Nobody is sure why. We don't believe that episode has been released. Dead Files investigated the property in 2014 and Amy claimed to see some powerful entities on the third floor. One sinister shadow figure gave her the impression that it gets pleasure from killing women. The main gist of her and Steve's investigation centered more on the Jennett family who owned the property at that time and the strong connection matriarch Rosanna had with it. Her daughter Gabriella was worried about that connection. Rosanna admitted being obsessed with renovating the hotel. She felt the hotel needed her.

Many people stay at the hotel without any issues. Others stay here with the specific goal of interacting with spirits. And they usually do. Is the Glen Tavern Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!

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