Monday, November 8, 2010

The Cary House Hotel


The Cary House Hotel, built in 1857, still stands in Placerville, CA. This jewel, built when the gold rush town was prospering, still treats its guests to an interesting night’s sleep. During the five years I worked in the Chablis Art Gallery across the street from the hotel, I was able to make friends with the manager who graciously let me take photos inside and out, and meet one of the two most active ghosts. The hotel features such luxuries as hot and cold running water, a novelty in its time, and an elegant grand staircase and a lobby handcrafted in mahogany and cherry woods.

Echoes from a colorful history linger in the halls of the great place. Early days provided a regular stop for stage lines that brought travelers to the gold country and returning with millions of dollars in bullion for transport to the San Francisco mint. Its wrought-iron trimmed balcony lent a great space for Horace Greely to give a speech and the world-renowned “Hangtown Fry” (oysters and scrambled eggs) was created at the Cary House by request of a miner who had struck it rich in the gold fields.

The ghost that I tangled with was Stan. He lives in the lobby of the hotel. He was the lobby clerk for many years, and he loves the place so he sticks around. In the beginning he checked patrons in and out of the Cary House. He had a great love of liquor, especially brand and whiskey. When he wasn’t working, he’d head down to the Rivendell’s Book Store where he could socialize. Back then the store was a great place to visit with fellow drinkers, and to get a drink, especially on cold damp days of winter. He would sneak out during his workday when no one was around, grab a drink and hurry back to the hotel.

Stan loved women, but was ignored by them. He was a short, stocky man with reddish brown hair, balding on the top and not what most people would consider a “ladies man. Truth be known, he also liked men somewhat. He was not really in demand by either. So, he did his job, was polite until the alcohol took affect, loved gossip and checking people out, and was known to be a bit ‘mouthy’ and insulting. Apparently he made a pass at a man, and the fellow stabbed him twice, and Stan fell down the stairs to his death.

My encounter with Stan happened the day I wanted to go upstairs by riding on the elevator. The wrought-iron door wouldn’t open. I tried and so did the manager.

It was no big deal as the staircase was grand and fun to travel up to the second and third floors. However, on the way down the elevator worked perfectly. Guess old Stan was so happy to see me leaving that he gladly let me take the ride. Rumors from patrons have said they see their doorknobs turn when they retire for the night. Some believe he checks each room that has a lady guest just to make sure they are safely locked inside their rooms. Maybe at another time, I can share some of the interesting ghost stories from Cary House. A television show that traveled around the country doing spots on the most haunted buildings did a twenty minute show on the ghosts in residence at Cary House.

Information from The Incredible World of Gold Rush Ghosts

33 comments:

  1. Paisley, what an awesome blog. It's great to visit and see the hotel you use in your stories. Oh, neat, a ghost! I love taking ghost tours. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. What an amazing ghost story, Paisley. I would have been terrified. The pictures are great. I bet you described the hotel so well in your book after seeing it.

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  3. Paisley, do you know how they heated the water and pumped it to the rooms? Loved this post. It looks like an elegant place to stay.

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  4. Thanks, Anne-Marie. I thought after your editing of my story you'd especially love seeing what it really looked like.

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  5. Hi Mona. My boss would never go over to the hotel except when she had not choice. She did attend a Christmas party but only stayed five minutes because she had weird feelings. It's an awesome place to visit. We did see a wedding part arrive one day in a white carriage pulled by a white horse with a top hat. Awesome for a romance writer. :)

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  6. Yes, Caroline. They have a boiler type setup in the basement and used the hot water to heat the rooms with the pipes placed in the walls and also the water went into the basins in the bathroom at the end of the hall. If I remember correctly, it was one of the first used and the manager was most proud to brag about it.

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  7. Hi Paisley, such an interesting post. I also love historic buildings, restored or otherwise. My hubby's into old movie palaces so I've taken lots of photos of theaters mostly in Chicago. I don't know any ghost stories for them, but that would be fun to research.

    Jane

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  8. Okay, if I encountered a ghost (unless he was really really hot) I would be out of that place in no time flat! Great pics!

    Lindsey

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  9. Paisley, loved hearing your experience in the hotel. Sounds crazy but one day I'd love to see or feel a ghost!

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  10. Hi Cuz!
    Great story, and I love the photos...what a way for poor ole Stan to "come out of the closet"...oh, did I really say that????? LOL
    I actually believe in ghosts and UFOs so nothing surprises me from that realm!

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  11. Fantastic post, Paisley!! I'd love to visit this place and see if I encountered his ghost. I enjoyed the story behind the ghost story too. Very interesting!

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  12. What an interesting blog. I'm going to have to add this to my places to visit.

    And soon !
    Can't wait to meet Stan.

    ~~Angi

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  13. What a fascinating piece of history, Paisley! Thanks for sharing! I have never encountered a ghost. Much as I'd like to, I apparently have the psychic intuition of a rock! :p

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  14. We live in an area that has lots of ghosts. I hope to share more stories about them in my future ghosts. I have encountered many and gotten angry at one that used to rearrange the art gallery during the night.

    Thanks for visiting today.

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  15. Kimmi, you are so funny. I've only had to deal with friendly ghosts and an occasional ghost that plays tricks. So far, I've never feared one.

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  16. Hi Marin,

    I hope when you meet up with a ghost it is friendly. So far, I've been good with it. Thanks for coming by.

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  17. YAY! Cuz, glad you could stop by and leave a comment. Yes, believe and you may meet a ghost yourself some day.

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  18. Thanks for stopping Nicole. We have so many interesting places to explore in this 'gold rush' area. Now you know why I love to put my stories here.

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  19. Angi, I hope you do come for a visit. I'd love to show you around town and maybe we can find Stan. There is George, too, but they just tore down the Hangman' bar. My next story...

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  20. Waving, Cheryl. I'm so glad you came by for a visit today. Lots of people have encountered ghosts in Placerville so maybe we could find one together some day.

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  21. Ghost? What ghost? You lost me when you mentioned the gorgeous wood in the lobby. Take pity on the wood geek and show some closeups next time, please. Old Growth wood just looks better than the stuff we have now.

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  22. Hi Stephanie, I wish I could go in and take closeups for you. They have a new manager and owner now so doubt I would have the free run of the place. The old wood does give the place a taste of grace and elegance.

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  23. Paisley
    What a fascinating blog. I love the pics of the building inside. I would love to take a tour of it too.
    Thanks so much for showing it to us!

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  24. Hi Jeanmarie. Glad you stopped by and took a look. The place is quite a showplace and I love spending time there. You can't miss the ambiance of it all.

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  25. Great story, Paisley! I've done ghost walking tours and love the shivers they bring, as well as spiking my imagination, but I'm not sure I'd really want to meet a ghost in person. LOL.

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  26. Thanks for stopping by today, Susan. I actually think the ghosts can add spice to the experience of exploring the 'olden' days. It is one of the reasons why I love spending time in Placerville.

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  27. Paisley--I'm so late! Your post was fascinating.I've never encountered a ghost, so I guess for me, they don't exist. Isn't it amazing that the theory--fact?--of ghosts has prevailed all through time? Beautiful photos, too of the hotel. Celia

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  28. Hi Celia, Glad you like the post and photos. I've always been fascinated by the hotel and love being able to visit it all the time when I worked across the street. I guess I've had too many unexplained experiences not to believe.

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  29. Fun topic! Sounds like a great secondary character for a book.

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  30. I have to agree with you, Paty. Since my stories are centered around the town where this hotel is situated, I could put a Stan in the hotel. :)

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  31. Oh Paisley, how fabulous, what a wonderful blog, wish I'd gone with you. Your pictures are fabulous and I love how you tell of your experience with Stan. I want more stories, so keep them coming. You simply MUST keep writing, even if it's your ghostly encounters...too much fun...you need to post the picture I took of you and Anna, when we were in NY...talk about a ghostly experience...that still gives me the shivers, but in a good way. Keep up the great work.

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  32. Thanks, Deb. Yes, it would have been fun to have you explore the hotel. There was such a regal atmosphere about the place.

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  33. Hello,
    This message is for Paisley Kirkpatrick. I have been on the second floor above the Chablis Gallery many times and have had two experiences.One in which I smelled cigarette smoke and nobody was around at all. Another where a doorknob was shaking then I heard running down the hallway towards the front door at the bottom of the steps.Whatever was running was doing it at incredible speeds. I was the only one in the building!

    Chablis does have a ghost!or something strange is going on there.

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