The Palmer House Hotel is one of Minnesota's finest ghost experiences. Guests of the hotel report many strange occurrences such as a young boy bouncing a ball down a hallway, eerie feelings in the basement area, disembodied voices, and one entity throws glasses around the bar area.
The hotel even claims residence to a celebrity ghost! The spirit of Lewis Sinclair, a famous local author for which the town takes pride in, is said to haunt the very hotel that he was employed as a bell boy at. Sauk Centre, Minnesota is also the childhood home of Sinclair.
The history of the Palmer House Hotel is quite an intersting one with many tales.
The first structure on the site of the modern day hotel was the Sauk Centre House, which was built in 1863. In 1867, E.P. Barnum bought the Sauk Centre House at which time locals and staff referred to it as the Minnesota House. This lasted only a short time as it was bought by a Mr. John Apfeld in 1868. He renamed the hotel The Apfeld House.
On June 26, 1900, the Apfeld House burned down. According to the papers at the time, the fire was intentional and many locals were glad that the eyesore in town was removed as it also brought in many strange drifters.
The city council refused to offer the funds to build a new hotel but the Sauk Centre Herald came forward with an offer of $5,000 to anyone who would build a new hotel.
R.L. Palmer was the man who came forward and built the current hotel in 1901. He named the three story structure, The Palmer House. The original hotel consisted of 38 rooms and one communal bathroom. The Palmer House was considered so majestic that a special contractor was hired from Minneapolis to wire the building with electricity, which many considered a novel luxury at the time.
As mentioned before, the hotel was the location of one of Lewis Sinclair's jobs. He was employed as a bell boy at the hotel but was fired because it was said that he spent more time writing than working.
In 1908, the Palmer House was leased to A.W. Austin. This changing of hands continued quite often until 1916 when Art DeBeau purchased the hotel from R.L. Palmer.
In 1921, Mr. DeBeau sold the hotel once more to a George A. Tanner. The hotel changed hands a couple more times with each owner adding their own personal touches.
1974 brought new life to the Palmer House Hotel as two business partners bought the property and decided to restore the aging structure. These two men were Al Tingley and Dick Schwartz. It was at this time that Al Tingley wrote his book entitled, Corner on Main Street.
It is at this time that the stories of ghosts began to creep into the Palmer House Hotel legacy. Al Tingley wrote about his findings of a ghost dating back to the 1950s. To go along with the stories that Al wrote about, he also found out that a person had committed suicide upstairs as well as another man who had hung himself in the bar area by jumping off a pool table.
A past resident of the hotel named Virgil (resident from 1974-1987) claimed to have heard several knocks on his door late at night, only to find that no one was at his door.
Today the current owners are Kelley Freese and her husband.
Kelley has tried her best to document the stories of the hotel from guests and employees. She has even devoted a place on the hotel's website to what visitors and staff have reported.
One such story that Kelley has shared is that many nights she and other staff members have heard what appears to be the sound of a young boy bouncing a ball down the hall and then chasing after it. Kelley also has mentioned that several guests have reported seeing a young boy sitting on the steps leading to the second floor. One guest wrote in the guest book that the little boy has "green eyes and dirty blonde hair."
Sometimes the living guests get mad about the haunting and have complained about children running through the halls at night which kept them up even though there were no children in the hotel that night. Another guest complained about the sounds of furniture moving in the room above them and when escorted to the room above them, they found it to be empty and no furniture was moved. Others have been so startled by the experience that they have left the hotel well before their departure time.
The hotel has also had odd electrical disturbances such as lights flickering and TV turning on and off. It should be noted that the hotel was just rewired and gutted for electrical inspection.
The activity isn't just limited to the guest rooms though, the bar area has had quite a few experiences as well.
The most eerie story tells of a man who walked into the bar and ordered a drink and told the bar tender that he'd take it upstairs. Curious, the bartender checked to see who was staying in the hotel and found that no one was staying in the hotel.
Bartenders also have had glasses fly off hooks and break clear across the room. Kitchen staff also report the same type of phenomena but the glasses come out of storage and break.
One kitchen staff member had the table's silverware placings rearranged on her so often that she decided to only set the table a few minutes prior to breakfast.
If you plan on staying at the beautiful Palmer House Hotel and want to have a ghostly experience, it is recommended that you stay in room 17 or room 11.
A newlywed couple were staying in room 17 and the wife awoke to a tall slender man standing by the foot of the bed. The man appeared to be from the 1920's or 1930's. The couple also reported upon exiting the hotel that their room was too hot and it was as if someone had turned up the heat on them. Kelley mentions that room 17 was also the same room that a man had reported being too cold as if the air conditioner was on all night.
Room 11 is the site of many experiences by guests. One guest staying at the hotel in room 11 had his legs outside of the blanket and felt the sensation as if someone were stroking his legs all through out the night. When he got up to look at what was causing this, he didn't see anyone even though the phenomena continued.
Many guests that stay in room 11 report it being too cold and hotel staff keep the room heated even when other rooms require the air conditioner to be used. Guests who have stayed in room 11 also report a heavy feeling while being in the room and say that the origin of this energy is the sink.
Many paranormal investigators have investigated that Palmer House Hotel and recorded EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). When Darkness Radio held it's 2008 Paranormal Conference from the Palmer House, Patrick Burns of Court TV's Haunting Evidence said that, "...it is like the Stanley Hotel-lite." (This of course is referring to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO.)
During the event's investigation, while using a Frank's Box, many investigators heard what appeared to be cussing and swear words coming from the box.