by Patricia Mack
Yesterday I wrote about haunted restaurants, but hotels also have spirits lurking. Unrequited love is the basis for a ghost tale at the St. Francis Inn, built as a private home in 1791 in St. Augustine, FL. The story concerns a pair of lovers, long dead, who are often seen or heard by staff and guests. Supposedly a young man who lived with his uncle, Major William Hardee, who owned the house during the middle of the 19th century, fell in love with Lily, one of the young black servant girls. When their affair was discovered, Lily was dismissed and the nephew ordered to never see her again. Deeply depressed, the young man took his own life in the attic, now Lily’s Room.
Guests have reported sightings of a hand on the railing of the back stairs, a ghosted figure dressed in white passing in the halls, split second sightings of spirits, frequent sounds of whispering and moans, lights and coffee makers going on and off unassisted, radio stations being changed, falling books, moving pictures, an icy cold touch, and bed covers being removed.
“I had just started working here,” recalls the Inn’s chef Gary Douylliez, “and I hadn’t heard anything about ghosts.”
One morning, on his way from kitchen to courtyard, he passed a man dressed in odd clothing sitting in the entryway. It struck him as strange because the hour was early for guests to be up and about.
“I didn’t greet him, just walked by and then realized that I should greet a guest, I turned my head to say ‘good morning’ — I mean it was in the blink of an eye — and he disappeared,” Douylliez said. “It was quite chilling and I wasn’t sure it really happened. I didn’t know until later when I mentioned the incident to a co-worker, that I had seen a ghost.”
“We’ve had a number of little incidents in the kitchen,” Douylliez said. “Once a pan jumped off the stove from the back burner — and it’s a commercial stove so there’s some distance — and it didn’t just hit the floor with a crash, it, well, it was like slow motion. . . . And last Christmas, during the Christmas tour, there was a large group in here and they witnessed a plate come flying out of the cabinet and crash.”
Douylliez says he can’t explain it, but theorizes that because the inn is the site of many weddings, the ghostly couple, deprived of their own nuptials, stays on to enjoy others’ ceremonies and celebrations.
No one has any theories on why the ghost of a young female partygoer still dressed in her 1940s best, searches for her room on the seventh floor of the Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, NM, or if she has anything to do with another ghost — an elderly woman in a pink dress — who wanders the fourth floor. The only thing that’s known is that the ladies have been haunting the place since 1939, when hotel magnate Conrad Hilton opened it as the Hotel Hilton. It’s had many owners and many names over the course of its 60- year history.
“The hotel recently underwent a $30 million renovation and is now the Hotel Andaluz,” said spokesperson Joanie Griffin. “The ghosts don’t seem to care; they’re still here no matter what it’s called.”
Such tales could creep a person out, but apparently just the opposite is true. Patrons have an appetite for a dinner with the dead or a suite with a specter. Ghost tours are available in both St. Augustine and Albuquerque.
You can click on each photo to enlarge. All photos of Hotel Andaluz © Ramona Willis d’Viola/ilumus photography, 2009.