The revived copper mining ghost town of Jerome, Arizona, is not only filled with historic buildings and rich history but is also said to be the home place of several lingering ghosts.
Today, Jerome is an artist’s and tourist’s community of about 400 residents, but that has not always been the case. During its prosperous copper mining years, the town boasted some 15,000 residents and was so filled with vices that it earned the nickname of the “Wickedest City in the West” by a New York newspaper. During those days, people died in mining accidents, gunfights, overdosed on opium, and a number of other unnatural events. With its ribald past, it comes as no surprise that the city is allegedly filled with wandering spirits.
In fact, one of the town’s most well-known ghosts is said to lurk at the town’s Community Center. Formally called Lawrence Memorial Hall, the building is more often familiarly termed “Spook Hall” due to several strange happenings, thereby its resident ghost. Named for a major contributor of the Jerome Historical Society, Lawrence Hall was once the old J.C. Penney building.
However, before the building was built, in its place stood several small shacks, referred to as “cribs” used by the “sporting ladies” who lived there and entertained their guests. In one of these lived a prostitute who was stabbed to death by a miner. It is this forlorn soul that is said to be often seen in front of Spook Hall, lingering there momentarily before moving onward toward a hotel, here she suddenly vanishes.
During Jerome’s heydays, the town was teeming with vice, including, by some estimates, more than 100 prostitutes. The Spook Hall ghost was not the only unfortunate girl who lost her reputation, as well as her life, in a mining camp filled with rowdy men.
Mile High Inn
One of the more popular ladies of the evening was Madam Jennie Banters, who became one of the richest women in northern Arizona. The Mile High Inn was originally built in 1899 and was known as the Clinksdale Building. Built over the ashes of a burnt outbuilding, the new structure had 18 inch thick walls to make it as fire-proof as possible. Sometime later, the building became the home of Madam Jennie Banters’ popular bordello, where Jennie and her “ladies” entertained numerous men.
Later, when the town began to take on a more “civilized” manner, the bordellos were forced to move their businesses off Main Street, and “Husband’s Alley” was born. Though Jennie had done well for herself, she too, allegedly lost her life to a client after moving from her Main Street location. By this time, prostitution was illegal but continued to thrive in Jerome until the 1940s.
In the meantime, the building became a hardware store on the lower level, and the upstairs portion was used as apartments. Over the years, several businesses were housed here until it became the inn that it is today.
The charming eight guest room inn not only caters to Jerome tourists, but it also continues to play host to Jennie Banters, herself, and several other resident ghosts, including a phantom cat that walks the halls and leaves its footprints on the beds.
As in life, Jennie is the most popular of the inn’s unearthly guests. The former madam of the brothel is often seen in the Lariat and Lace Room as well as keeping an eye on the kitchen, where she lets her presence be known by flying objects that come off their resting places when they are not put away properly. SIn addition, she has been known to move things about throughout the inn, including furnishings and smaller objects, as well as rotating ceiling fans. Often, she is said to turn on the radio in rooms, just as the maids come into clean them.
The spectral cat has been seen a number of times by both staff and guests, who often stoop to pick her up. However, before they get the chance, it vanishes. The cat has also been known to brush up against people, especially in the kitchen and restaurant, and its paw prints have been seen on the made-up beds. Visitors to the inn have also reported hearing the cat’s meow and the sound of a cat sharpening its claws. The cat is thought to have been Madam Jennie’s pampered pet.
An elderly gentleman is also said to roam about the inn. A friendly apparition, he has been seen dressed in vintage work clothes and a felt hat, looking down at the alley from the window in the “Pillow Talk” room. In this room, he also reported leaves his indentation on the bed. Also blamed on this old man are wall hanging and pictures often rearranged or placed in the armoire in the “Kiss and Tell” room. The armoire doors here also have been known to open and close of their own accord.
Another younger man, who isn’t so friendly, evidently loves to startle guests and staff alike. Though he doesn’t hurt anyone, he allegedly loves to blow cold winds through guest rooms and has been known to appear as a shadowing figure in the Victorian Rose Room as well as in the restaurant. The hazy figure is seen wearing a grumpy look of disapproval on his face.
Other phenomena include locked doors that open and close by themselves, mysteriously rearranging furniture, utensils that fly off their resting places in the kitchen, cold winds blowing through the rooms, and a statue that turns itself around. In the Victorian Rose Room, the smell of roses or perfume is often detected, and the water faucets tend to turn on and off of their own accord.
The most active place in the building is probably the restaurant and kitchen. Here, whistling is often heard in the bar area, metal signs have flown off the wall, glasses slide off tables with a crash, a woman has been heard singing, and electrical devices seemingly have a mind of their own, turning on and off at will.
Today, the Inn at Jerome includes eight guest rooms that have been remodeled and designed in their original Victorian style. Located in the heart of historic Jerome, the Inn also provides a restaurant and bar.
Mile High Inn
309 Main Street
P.O. Box 901
Jerome, Arizona 86331
Just down the street is another haunted hotel – the Connor. First built by David Connor, “Connor’s Corner” was erected in 1897 by David Connor. The three-story brick hotel offered 20 guest rooms as well as a saloon, card rooms and billiards on the first floor. Built before the law required buildings to be constructed of brick or stone, most folks thought Connor a bit daft at the expense he put into the hotel, which included stone quarried nearby for the foundations and brick shipped in from Cottonwood, Arizona. Built with the more affluent citizens and travelers in mind, the first-class hotel rented for $1.00 per night. But the Connor would be plagued with a colorful future, including several fires over the next few years.
Though immediately successful, Connor’s Corner would see its first tragedy in just a little more than a year, when it was destroyed by fire in September 1898. But David Connor also had the foresight to have bought insurance on his property. Only one of two business owners in town to carry insurance, he was paid $14,500 for his losses and immediately rebuilt.
Over the next several years, Jerome would see more fires, and the Connor Hotel would again be damaged, only to be rebuilt with insurance money again and again. However, because of its stone structure in a mining camp filled with wooden buildings and canvas tents, it was sometimes credited with saving the downtown district from burning entirely.
When the Connor Hotel reopened in August 1899, it quickly became known as one of the finest hotels in the West, having several amenities unheard of in many hotels of the time, including full electricity, a call bell in each room for service, and its own bus for delivering guests to and from the train depot.
During the city’s thriving mining days of the early 20th century, the hotel prospered, often being filled to capacity. However, Jerome’s mining prosperity was not to last, and as the fortunes of the mines waned, so did the Connor Hotel’s. By 1931, it had closed. By that time, the building had passed to David Connor’s son, who continued to rent out the ground floor for commercial businesses, but the upstairs hotel rooms sat vacant.
When the mines closed in the 1950s, Jerome became a ghost town and the vast majority of the buildings sat abandoned and neglected.
However, in the late 1960s, new residents, enchanted with the old town, began to move in once again. It soon developed into an artists’ community and tourist destination. As a result, the old hotel opened up again, providing ten larger rooms instead of twenty. However, it was not the luxury hotel of its past, but a “low-budget” hotel.
In the 1980’s it closed again due to safety violations and remained empty up until the 21st century. However, in 2000, the current owners began to renovate the hotel, bringing it up to required safety standards and renovating the rooms to their historic splendor while providing modern amenities.
Visitors today can enjoy not only wonderful blends of the past and present but by some accounts, perhaps a spectral ghost or two.
In Room 1, a tale circulates that the first guest to stay in the hotel was its electrician, who was frightened by whispers and the sounds of women laughing in the room. Later, he felt cold chills in the room and spent the rest of the night sleeping in his van. Since that time, other strange events have been reported including the armoire doors opening of their own volition and odd images appearing in photographs.
In Room 2, it is said that objects tend to move around of their own accord, including furnishings and small guest items. In Room 4, guests and staff have reported hearing a dog’s growl and an old man coughing.
Who these lingering souls might remain a mystery.
164 Main Street
Jerome, Arizona 86331
928-634-5006 or 800-523-3554
Jerome Grand Hotel
Perched above downtown Jerome high upon Cleopatra Hill is another haunted hotel – the Jerome Grand Hotel. Originally, this building served as the United Verde Hospital, which opened in 1927. Constructed by the United Verde Copper Company for its many employees and their families, the hospital was a much-needed facility in a town that had grown to a population of some 15,000 people. A show-place building, it was the highest structure in the Verde Valley and was the last major building constructed in Jerome. Built to last, the structure was of a fire-proof design and could withstand the many nearby mining blasts of up to 260,000 pounds. While other area buildings crumbled or slid down steep slopes, caused by the mine blasting, that sometimes could be felt as far away as Camp Verde, the 30,000 square foot hospital wasn’t fazed. Even by today’s standards, the building was an engineering marvel, as it was constructed on a 50-degree slope.
By 1930, the five-story Spanish Mission-style building and its facilities were written up as one of the most modern and well-equipped hospitals in Arizona. But, like the Copper Company itself, the hospital couldn’t survive once the copper deposits played out. The town’s people moved on to other opportunities, and the hospital closed in 1950.
For the next 44 years, it stood abandoned; however, until 1971, it continued to be maintained, just in case it was needed in an emergency situation. Then, for the next two decades, it sat silent and neglected. But, in 1994, the building was purchased by the Altherr family from the Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation, and the restoration to its current glory as the Jerome Grand Hotel began. All effort was given to maintaining the interior and exterior integrity of the historic building, and in 1996 it reopened as the Jerome Grand Hotel.
Almost from the beginning, the building has had a history of hauntings, perhaps because of the many people who died there or the emotional trauma suffered by the many housed in its asylum. As a result, it is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Arizona, with several strange phenomena occurring over the decades.
Shortly after the hospital opened, both patients and staff began to tell stories of hearing people talking, coughing, moaning, and cries of distress coming from empty rooms. Some believed they might have possibly have been coming from some of the many lingering spirits who had died in the deathly flu epidemic in 1917. Though the hospital wasn’t even built at that time, perhaps these lost souls found the building, wishing that it had been there.
One of the first reports of a spectral soul was a woman dressed in white that began to be seen on a hospital balcony shortly after its opening. Thought to have been a nurse, the phantom lingered for years but apparently has moved on as she has not been seen since the building became a hotel.
One spirit that is has lurked in the building for many years is that of an old bearded miner. His “appearance” was first reported by a hospital patient who reported having seen the bearded man gliding down the hall, turning on all the lights on his way. Another nurse during the building’s hospital reign reported having seen a bearded man standing at the very end of a hallway. However, when she approached him, the man mysteriously vanished. Today, the hotel guests continue to report spying the ghostly vision of a bearded man, especially on the second and third floors.
Another spirit, just that of a small boy, described as about six years old, has also been spied on the third floor.
The phenomena described in the historic hotel includes all manner of strange occurrences, including the sounds of phantom footsteps going up and down the stairs and hallways, doors that open and close of their own accord, objects that inexplicably move of their own will, and electrical appliances that turn on and off by themselves. Many of these bizarre happenings occur before the housekeeping staff, who have seemingly become favorite targets, sometimes hearing their names being called out by phantom voices. However, they say that the ghosts are accommodating enough, as when they ask them to stop, it does, at least for a few days.
The hotel lobby is an active place for many spirits. Here, the lobby doors have often been seen opening and closing by themselves, like someone is arriving or leaving; chairs have been rearranged while desk clerks turn their backs; items have flown off the shelves in the gift shop, as well as from the walls in the lobby. The lobby desk has also received several phone calls from empty rooms. So it comes as no surprise when the line is picked up that no one is on the other end.
Near the old 1926 elevator, which is still operational, a finely dressed elderly woman in white has often been spied standing.
But, the hotel’s most famous ghost is that of a man named Claude Harvey, who was a hospital maintenance man in 1935. Harvey, who was well-known in Jerome, was more familiarly called “Scotty” by townsfolk, shocked to hear about his death at the hospital. When Harvey’s body was found pinned under the elevator in the basement, his death was ruled an accident. Strangely, though, the inquest into his death determined that the elevator did not kill him. Some said perhaps he jumped to his death; but, the vast majority suspecting instead, that the man was murdered and his body dumped at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The elevator was found to have been in perfect working order, and Harvey was an experienced maintenance man. Strange that he was found beneath the elevator, with his neck broken and the only other mark on his body – a small scrape behind the ear. Rumors abounded with a number of theories and potential suspects, but the cause of death remained officially and “accident.” Almost immediately after his death; however, strange occurrences began in the building, especially in and around the elevator. Lights in the elevator shaft have been seen, and the sound of the creaking elevator has long been heard; even when the building was vacant, no power was one, and even yet today, when it is unused.
Others have claimed to see the figure of a shadowy man in the basement, on the stairs, and near the elevator. The spectral man has been described as appearing furious. Others have “felt” an angry presence. Many speculate that Harvey has unfinished business here on earth, not resting until his murderer has been implicated. Though his spirit is said to make those who he encounters uncomfortable, Harvey has never hurt anyone.
Other spirits are also said to roam throughout the hotel, attributed to several tragic events in the building, including a man in a wheelchair who fell from a balcony, a shooting, and a caretaker who hanged himself. A woman in white is sometimes been seen roaming the hallways and a small child has been seen running through the bar area.
Guests and staff continue to report being pushed in the hallways, doors that slam shut by themselves, the sounds of ghostly cries, and photographs that persistently develop with ghostly hazes and numerous orbs.
The Jerome Grand Hotel was featured in a segment of the popular Sightings television series several years ago and has been investigated by several ghost hunter groups who have reportedly recorded paranormal activity on film and audio.
Today the Jerome Grand Hotel currently provides 23 fully restored, modern rooms, with more rooms available in the future as the hotel continues to renovate. It is Jerome’s only full-service hotel with its own bar, restaurant, gift shop, and 24-hour front desk.
The Jerome Grand Hotel
200 Hill Street
928-634-8200 or 888-817-6788
Ghost City Inn
Like many haunts in Jerome, Arizona, the Ghost City Inn lives up to its reputation with a spirit or two lurking behind its historic façade. Originally the building was built as a boarding house for middle mine managers, but over the years has seen a variety of uses. Later, it became a private residence for the Garcia family, who owned it for more than fifty years. The building also served as a restaurant, a spiritual retreat, a funeral home, and an art gallery over the years.
However, in 1994, the building underwent a major restoration to turn it into the Bed and Breakfast that it is today. Though the building is a peaceful respite, Jerome tourists are allegedly not the only ones who enjoy its ambiance.
Allegedly, the historic building is said to remain home to a female spirit who is most often seen in the Cleopatra Hill room. Another male spirit has been spied in the hall outside the Verde View Room. Other unusual things occur at the inn, including doors slamming shut by themselves and spectral voices heard when no one is in the building.
Ghost City Inn
541 Main Street (HWY 89A)
Jerome, Arizona 86331
Below Main Street, as you enter Diaz Street, is the Cribs District, more affectionately called “Husband’s Alley” during its heydays. During Jerome’s more decadent times, brothels and bordellos could be found anywhere.
However, when the town decided to be more “civilized,” these houses of business were banned from Main Street and most relocated to the Crib District, which was filled with numerous women more than happy to provide “entertainment” to the many miners of the rowdy city. At one point, it was estimated that more than 100 prostitutes plied their trade in Jerome, with such notable madams as Nora “Butter” Brown and Jennie Bauters. Madam Brown was known as a no-nonsense businesswoman and was Jerome’s first madam, owning the first brothel of the camp in a two-story wooden building, located where the Sullivan Building stands today.
Though nothing to look at herself and having a reputation of drinking most men under the table, Madam Brown did a brisk business. She was fond of saying, “I know I’m not much to look at boys, but wait until you see the girls. You’re really going to love me then.” She would then let out a loud horse laugh. She was right about her not being much to look at.” And true to her word, the women that worked for her were some of the loveliest in town. Even Nora, though plain of face, her figure beckoned to the female-starved men of the camp. Brown is credited for being the first to introduce Jennie Bauters to the lifestyle, who is sometimes credited with being Jerome’s first madam. Jennie, who operated her business in what is now the Mile High Inn, was obviously not the first, but she did go on to become the most popular madam and one of the richest women in Arizona. Besides Madams Nora Brown and Jennie Bauters, other popular madams in the city included such lively monikers as Rose Lily, Cuban Mary, and Madam Pearl, who was never seen without a cigarette dangling from her lips.
For those women who didn’t do so well or weren’t pretty enough to work in one of the more ”respectable” brothels, they plied their trade from small shacks that lined the alley, referred to “cribs.” Both “high class” brothel operations and cribs remained a mainstay in Jerome long after they were made illegal, continuing to operate into the 1940s.
Today, when visitors wander through this historic alley, it is easy to imagine hearing the voices of “soiled doves” calling from their long-vanished cribs. For some; however, they are sure that a number of these “old girls” continue to linger here.
Many have reported paranormal phenomena in this alley, including the feeling of being watched, the sounds of phantom footsteps, a persistent odor of perfume, and strange shadows that move around at night.
During Jerome’s heydays, the life of a prostitute was difficult and dangerous, and several women lost their lives to the men they “entertained,” one of which was a stunningly beautiful girl named Sammie Dean, who a customer strangled. To this day, her murder remains unsolved. Whether it is the beautiful Sammie Dean or any number of other nameless girls who lost their lives in this alley, some are said to continue to haunt this once ribald street.
You can find this area across the street from the English Kitchen, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the state of Arizona.
Just below the hotel on Cleopatra Hill is an abandoned building that was once a clinic. It was here that many of those killed in the 1917 flu epidemic lost their lives. The building has long since had a reputation for being haunted over the years, as numerous tales are told of former patients being seen in the windows of the abandoned building. Further down the slope stands the old Episcopal Church, where a white misty figure has often been seen.
Beneath the streets of Jerome, the mountain is still filled with several abandoned mine shafts and tunnels. These too are said to be haunted, especially by a miner dubbed “Headless Charlie.” Decapitated in a mining accident years ago, “Charlie’s” head was found, but his body was never discovered. Almost immediately after his death, miners began to report hearing unexplained footsteps, seeing unexplainable footprints and seeing and a shadowy headless spirit. Many believe his spirit continues to stalk the dark tunnels beneath the city.
With all the other apparitions wandering about this historic town, the cemetery, of course, includes its own paranormal activity. Visitors here have made numerous reports of dark figures moving about, the sound of ethereal footsteps, and the sounds of distant voices. The old cemetery includes graves dating from 1897 to 1942.
Jerome is allegedly filled with so many spirits of the past that it is affectionally known as “Ghost City” and has made many visitors and residents, who were previously skeptics, believers in the paranormal.
© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated June 2021.
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