Ghostly check-ins at the Elms Hotel

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


For the month of October, since Halloween everywhere else seems to be cancelled, we here at the House of News will be exploring some really cool locations shown in scenes on Historic Postcards, but are also full of ghostly activity! We’ve picked out four sites that are all within a half hour drive of Historic Northeast and are open to the public. So get those keys and those masks and let’s go ghost hunting!


This pastoral scene shows guests relaxing in the “back yard” area of The Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Mo. Brightly colored umbrellas offer shade in this scene that was most likely shot in the late spring or early summer. The Southern exposure of the building shows each window’s awning extended to keep the rooms cool during the daytime hours prior to the advent of central air conditioning.


The Elms was originally built in 1868, on the same site where today’s thoroughly refurbished and renovated hotel stands. The original Elms burned not once but twice around the turn of the 20th Century and was rebuilt the second time with native limestone and finished in the Arts and Crafts Style that was sweeping the nation at the time.


The resort was a popular destination for people of note from across the country, including Hollywood celebrities, and at one point in time, even the notorious Chicago Gangster Alfonse Capone who used the Elms as a getaway from the Chicago scene.


Harry S. Truman sought refuge at the hotel on election night in 1948 when he thought he was losing to Republican Thomas Dewey. Two days after his stay at The Elms, Truman was in St. Louis when the iconic picture was snapped, much to the chagrin of the editors of the Chicago Tribune who erroneously printed the headline: “Dewey Defeats Truman.”


A history of hauntings: The Elms, like The Crescent Hotel on Basin Street in Eureka Springs, Ark., is a hotspot for paranormal activity. The lap pool in the hotel’s basement is said to be haunted by a man going back to the speakeasy days. During prohibition mobsters used to store their hooch and host all-nighters in blocked-off rooms. The spirit is said to be that of a man allegedly killed by the mob during one of those parties.


The hotel’s third floor is also home to a female spirit said to be dressed in a maid’s uniform from the 1920’s. Legend has it she is a kind spirit and is there to keep an eye on the hotel’s housekeeping staff, making sure tasks are being performed correctly.


Another female spirit is said to wander the hotel looking for her child. She has been known to throw things across the room or tug on people’s hair.
Do you have a story about being haunted at The Elms or another local site? Share with us!

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