KINGMAN - Do you believe in ghosts? This time of year brings out many "ghosts" dressed in sheets and asking for candy, but does it draw out the spirits of the dead as well? Your (nearly) fearless photographer/reporter decided to try and find out for herself last Thursday night at the famous (and reportedly haunted) Brunswick Hotel.
Built in 1909, Hotel Brunswick was the first three-story building for miles around and has a long history and a reputation for being haunted. I was going to spend the night immersed in that history, staying from about 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. in search of spooks.
My fellow ghostbusters would be: Joshua Noble, who orchestrated our nighttime adventure; Jordan Noble; and Jonathan Nelson of AVI Studios, a videographer who would film our "investigation." The gracious host for the night would be Jason Pfaff, manager of the Brunswick, who showed us around the hotel and passed on a few ghost stories to properly chill our bones before we set out alone.
Pfaff and his wife, Jennifer, assumed management of the hotel in April and have already had more than a few ghostly encounters. As Jason recalled Thursday night while standing next to the doorway of the kitchen basement, "The kitchen (is) the last place I like to go in the whole hotel. I always tell everybody that this is the depths of Hell! OK, I don't know if it's that bad, but this is where I've had a few moments … well, this is probably the freakiest place in the whole hotel, it really is. I didn't think about it the first couple of times I went down there, but there was one night I had to do some work and there was a water leak …
"I was standing right here and I swear I saw - it wasn't a person, but I could see an outline of something … and it was walking right up the stairs. I wasn't thinking anything of it until it … hit me, and then it walked right through me and there was another person right behind it. Well, when the first one came through, it was like every single hair on my body stood up on end. I felt overwhelmed by something. I saw yet another one and I was freaked out and slammed the door shut."
But that wasn't the end of his ordeals. "A bartender and I were here one night, and we were playing the old phonograph, the wind-up 78. We were playing music in there, music from the '30s and '40s, and it sounded like there was ballroom dancing going on in here, like they were having a party. We'd take a peek, and it would stop.
We'd go back in there and sit down and do our thing, and we'd hear it again - the same thing.
"The most intense experience I've had working here was … at the front desk. I had the back of a book, like a binding, and I had it sitting on the desk for a month. One day I was cleaning off the desk … and I went to throw it in the trash can. As soon as that thing hit the trash can - this door opened up, the back door opened, the front door opened up and there was just like an overwhelming presence all around. I was like "woah woah woah" and I backed right up and grabbed the thing from the trash can! 'I'm sorry!'
"As soon as my wife got here, she said, 'Oh yeah, that goes with the old record player.' … It upset somebody that I was going to throw it away. There was no doubt about it."
A bit unsettled by those eerie tales, we four fearless (almost) ghost hunters set up camera equipment and prepared to look for the supernatural as the rest of the hotel closed up shop for the night. By midnight, we had video, audio and thermometers in various places throughout the hotel.
We began our expedition in the haunted basement, in the dark, listening to the "drip, drip" of a leaky pipe. I thought that here was a place I wouldn't like to be alone. Despite the creepy atmosphere, however, we saw no signs of ghosts. So, we soon headed to the dining area, where a little girl ghost is said to frequently make an appearance. We had heard about her earlier in the evening from the bartender, Wesley Martin.
"She's like a 6-, 7-, 8-year-old little girl, and I didn't know anything about her. First night I worked here, I felt her." When asked if anyone knows her name, he said, "I feel like 'E', like Emily, but that's just what I feel. But I don't know if I'm right. But … something like Edith … something old-fashioned, like would be (from) that time. There's also a picture … a guy, standing in a black cowboy hat, and I feel like he's still around, too. I don't know. I'll hopefully learn more about it."
We sat in the darkness, surrounded by fine dining tables and glassware, but no ghosts made themselves known. Jordan even placed several pennies on a table, inviting the little girl to play; apparently, she wasn't interested.
The hours drifted by; despite our best efforts, no unusual phenomena occurred. We eventually tried splitting up, and I walked the hallways of the second floor alone. By that point, I was less afraid of spirits than I was of returning to work empty-handed!
Walking alone in haunted hallways at 3 a.m., I felt like I was living an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, "Most Haunted." Except for the haunted part.
Eventually, we did encounter a (living) spirit named Jack Lovoy, who was renting a room at the hotel. He said he felt the presence of spirits there. He thought they held no malice toward the living. From what he said, they certainly make their presence known if you stay at the hotel long enough.
"In the staircase, in the hallway, you know, it's like when you have a feeling that someone came around the side of you …" He was asked if he saw shadows. "All the time. Shadow people passing by. Dark figures. … If I felt evil here, I wouldn't stay here. But I like it here.
"This one - by the stairs, it did pass me by, and I seen it. When I turned around and went up the stairs. It was a dark figure. You know, it's just … all the little things you feel."
He was asked if the lights were on or off when this happened, and he said they were on. He also stated that the only time he saw these shadows was when he was alone. "There was nothing making the shadow!" He described it as perhaps 5 foot, 9 inches tall.
After a night of ghost-seeking, it became time to call it quits and head home to our safe and warm beds. The only thing I felt outside the ordinary was a dizzy feeling I got every time I headed up or down the hallway leading down from the second floor. I felt it every time, and only in that particular section. Lovoy also mentioned getting a strange feeling in that area.
Alas, the mystery remains. I'll head back to Hotel Brunswick in the future, in pursuit of both worldly delights and (maybe) the ones outside our realm.
Next time I could shoot the photo that proves the existence of ghosts once and for all!
Though, the mystery itself is half the fun.
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