The Haunted Stanley Hotel
Designed and built in 1909 by the original owner himself, Freelan Stanley (inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile), the Stanley Hotel is a majestic mansion in the scenic Rocky Mountain embraced town of Estes Park, Colorado. Arriving in Colorado in 1903, Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora had been sent west by his physician to seek the fresh mountain air. Stanley, who had been suffering from tuberculosis, and his wife fell in love with the area after recuperating from his illness and decided to build the hotel.
The 138 room, 4 storied beautiful Georgian, neoclassical inn has 16,000 square feet of event spacewhich grounds and support buildings. Stanley's entertainment and holiday mansion and its support structures were built with the entertainment, and the comfort of the Stanleys' friends and special guests in mind. Using the native pine, Stanley hired 300 craftsmen to create a marvelous decor for each public space, and the artistic details on the staircases, and guest rooms. Each guest room had its own private bath, heat, phone and electricity, thanks to the power plant and dam that Stanley built. The electricity that was created, not only kept the lights on at his Stanley Inn, but also powered the homes and businesses of the people of Estes Park, for free.
Despite The Stanley Hotel’s grandeur and opulence, it was probably destined to remain obscure until a famous guest changed its future—and its past. The Stanley Hotel has hosted many "famous” guests including The Unsinkable Molly Brown, John Philip Sousa, Theodore Roosevelt, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and a variety of Hollywood personalities. The Stanley Hotel may be best known, for its most famous guest, Stephen King, that used the majestic hotel as the inspiration for his The Shining, which he wrote after staying, in room 217. King did not write the novel there, nor was the 1980 Stanley Kubrick movie filmed there, but the
TV movie version of The Shining was used as the location. Today, the elegant hotel is a popular resort and destination for ghost hunters; a ghost tour is even offered to visitors.
In addition to its regular guests, the hotel is also said to play host to a number of "ghostly" visitors. The most notable is F.O. Stanley himself who is most often seen in the lobby and the Billiard Room, which was his favorite room when he was still alive. On one such occasion, he was said to have appeared during a tour group’s visit to the Billiard Room, materializing behind a member of the tour. Bartenders at the old hotel also report having seen F.O. stroll through the bar, disappearing when they try to cut him off at the kitchen.
Flora Stanley also haunts the hotel, continuing to entertain guests with her piano playing in the ballroom. Employees and guests have reported hearing music coming from the room, and when they take a peek in there, they can see the piano keys moving. However, as soon as someone walks across the thresh-hold to investigate further, the music stops and no more movement can be seen upon the keys of the piano.
Here is a detailed list of the numerous apparitions and other phenomena that has been reported throughout the hotel:
- The ghosts of Freelan Stanley and his wife Flora have been seen dressed in formal attire on the main staircase and in other public areas, such as the lobby and the billiard room.
- Mr. Stanley has also been spotted in the administration offices, perhaps to keep an eye on the hotel's books. The Flora's piano playing occasionally echos in the ballroom.
- Disembodied voices and phantom footsteps have been heard in the hallways and rooms.
- Staff and visitors have reported unseen hands yanking at their clothing.
- More than one guest has said they have awakened to find their blankets taken from their beds and neatly folded.
- The Earl of Dunraven, who owned the land prior to the Stanleys, is said to haunt room 407, where the aroma of his cherry pipe tobacco still can be smelled.
- A ghostly face has also been reported peering out of the room's window when it was not occupied.
- Room 217, where Stephen King stayed, was the site of a tragic accident in 1911: housekeeper Elizabeth Wilson was nearly killed by a gas leak explosion. Since her death in the 1950s, strange, unexplained activity is said to take place in that room, including doors opening and closing, and lights switching on and off by themselves.
- Room 418 is the most haunted room, according to hotel staff, apparently by the ghosts of children. Guests who stay there say phantom children can be heard playing in the hallways at night. One couple complained that the noisy children kept them up all night, although there were no children staying at the hotel at the time. Impressions of bodies have been found on the bed when the room as been unoccupied.
- The ghost of a small child who calls out to his nanny has been spotted on several occasions on the second floor -- including by Stephen King.
The hotel offers several ghost hunting packages and events and is a favoritte destination for travelers seeking the haunted!
The Stanley Hotel
333 East Wonderview Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517
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