Ghosts in Washington Hotels


The lobby of Spokane's Davenport Hotel

Every state, I’m sure, has its quotient of hotel ghosts.  Here are a few that I’ve encountered in Washington state.

In Spokane, the stately, 283-room Davenport Hotel ( hosted presidents and dignitaries from around the world after it was built in 1914.  When it closed in 1985, new owners gave it a head-to-toe renovation.  They reopened the hotel in 2002.

One element of the old hotel persists. Communications director Tom McArthur told me about a ghost, a woman who wanders around the mezzanine above the grand lobby.  Dressed in the fashion of the 1920s, she seems to look for someone or something as she peers over an ornate wrought-iron railing. Then she vanishes into thin air.

Davenport Hotel

Local newspaper records revealed that in August 1920, a visitor from New York walked through a third-floor doorway and fell to her death through a skylight above the lobby. Mrs. Ellen McNamara’s last puzzled words, uttered to an attending physician, were: “Where did I go?” Perhaps, said McArthur, she’s still seeking an answer to that question.

“Since we discovered her story,” McArthur said, “I’ve placed a rose at the hearth every August 17th to remember not that Mrs. McNamara died here but to remember that she lived here. We take good care of our visitors, whether from this side or the other.”

The gothic Manresa Castle ( in Port Townsend was built in 1892 as a mayoral manor, then became a Jesuit monastery between 1927 and 1968.

Two ghosts, in particular, have been associated with the Victorian-style inn.

Manresa Castle (WikiTravel)

A severely depressed priest hung himself from the ceiling of the tower room. Guests have reported hearing footsteps or the sound of a strained rope, and one claimed to have seen a man in a black hooded robe standing over his bed.

A young woman leaped from a window to her death, after learning that her lover had been lost at sea. Guests in her room insist they have perceived a woman dressed in early-20th-century wear, staring out toward the waterfront.

“These are the two main ghosts that everybody knows about,” said Ashley Con, a night-shift desk clerk. “We had a psychic from Virginia who came here on vacation, so she was ignoring the ghosts, but they wouldn’t let her. She said they told her other spirits pass through the Manresa Castle all the time, almost like it’s a hotel for ghosts.”

On the south side of Tacoma, the Thornewood Castle Inn ( was the filming location for the 2002 television mini-series “Rose Red,” based on a Stephen King novel.

Thornewood Castle staircase

The sprawling 54-room English-style manor was built in 1911 by Port of Tacoma founder Chester Thorne and his wife, Anna. Current owner Deanna Robinson said they are still seen about the mansion. She said Anna, in particular, sits in a window seat of her room, gazing at the garden, and her reflection is seen in an original mirror.

Tragically, a youngster who drowned in the lake in the 1970s is also still around; guests occasionally see a small boy standing alone by the lake, and rush to the water’s edge only to find no one there.

“That’s a true story,” said Robinson. “I always run down and look myself … but there’s never anyone there.” The child’s mother, Robinson said, still lives in the Tacoma area.

The Rosario Resort & Spa ( on Orcas Island, in the San Juans, was the home of Donald and Alice Rheem in the 1930s and 1940s. Donald was rarely around. Alice had a drinking habit.

Resort historian Christopher Peacock said she frequently caused a stir in the nearby village of Eastsound, arriving on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a flaming red nightgown, playing a few hands of cards around the potbelly stove at the general store before returning home — sometimes with a young male escort.

Alice is still around. Guests have heard the footsteps of a woman walking in high heels and heard the sounds of passionate lovemaking from vacant rooms. “Her former bedroom definitely has the most energy,” said Peacock. There has even been a report, Peacock said, of Alice riding her motorcycle … down the second-floor hallway.


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