The Ghosts of Jerome

Connor Hotel

Connor Hotel, 1899

Connor Hotel, 1899

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 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 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. 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 a number of 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 1950’s, Jerome became a ghost town and the vast majority of the buildings sat abandoned and neglected.

Connor Hotel, Jerome, AZ

Connor Hotel in Jerome 2005.

However, in the late 1960’s, new residents, enchanted with the old town, began to move in once again. It soon developed into an artists’ community and tourist destination. The old hotel opened up once again, providing ten larger rooms instead of twenty. However, it was not the luxury hotel of its past, but more of 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 a 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 ever stay in the hotel was it’s 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 the growl of a dog and an old man coughing.

Who these lingering souls might be remains a mystery.

Connor Hotel
164 Main Street
Jerome, Arizona 86331
928-634-5006 or 800-523-3554

Jerome Grand Hotel

The Jerome Grand Hotel by Kathy Weiser, 2005.

The Jerome Grand Hotel by Kathy Weiser, 2005.

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, 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. The building was an engineering marvel, even by today’s standards, 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.

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