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 as “Spook Hall” due to a number of strange happenings there by 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 a number of 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 a woman named 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 out building, the new structure had 18 inch thick walls to make it as fire-proof as possible. Some time 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 1940’s.
In the meantime, the building became a hardware store on the lower level and the upstairs portion was used as apartments. Over the years, a number of 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, it continues to play host to Jennie Banters, herself, as well as a number of 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. 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 that are 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 includes locked doors that open and close by themselves, furniture that is mysteriously rearranged, 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