In 1889 along the Oregon Trail in Baker City, merchants Jake and Harry Warshauer opened the Warshauer Hotel. It was designed by Czechoslovakian architect, John Bennes who incorporated the Italianate Victorian architecture style to the building. An early Oregon journalist, Edward Gardner Jones described the hotel as “one of the most imposing structures in Eastern Oregon.”
The building was three stories tall with 70-80 rooms( not all sources say the same) and a large dining room with a stained glass ceiling that seated two hundred. It had the third elevator ever installed west of the Mississippi, electrical lights, and was extolled as one of the most opulent, modern hotels along the Oregon Trail. The cost of the hotel ranged from $65,000-70,000 depending on the source.
In 1895 the hotel was bought by John Geiser and his son Albert. They renamed it the Geiser Grand Hotel. The two had made money in the mining industry and Albert found his calling running the opulent hotel.
After the Depression the hotel slowly began losing business and falling into disrepair. The cast of Paint Your Wagon stayed in the Geiser Grand during the shooting of the movie which took place outside of Baker City in 1968. After the crew left the Hotel closed down. The exterior cracked, inside walls and ceilings fell, the roof collapsed and water caused massive damage.
In 1978 the Baker Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places and soon after there were several attempts to bring the hotel back to its original state.
However, it wasn’t until 1993 when Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased the Geiser Grand Hotel that it came back to life in both its looks and its history.
There had been multiple ghost sightings at the Geiser Grand before it closed its doors in 1968. IN fact the local citizens take pride in their ghosts and have a Ghost tour in the hotel on Halloween.
Most of the ghostly activity is on the hotel’s top floor. Staff and guests have reported hearing the sounds of a loud crowd laughing, drinking, and having a good time on the third floor. The sightings come mostly from guests on the second and third floor who call down to the desk in the middle of the night to complain of obnoxious guests. When someone is sent to investigate the party breaks up and there are no more calls of noise. Other times guest dining in the Geiser Grill will report seeing people dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing looking over the balcony. The guests usually say the gawkers were wearing flapper-style dresses but their legs were missing.
The most famous ghost in the hotel is the Lady in Blue. She walks up and down the grand staircase in a long, lavender dress looking like a Gibson Girl of the 1900s. Many have watched her climb the staircase only to disappear into a wall. Her identity is unknown. Some say she was a former owner of the hotel and others say she is a woman who hung herself after her cowboy boyfriend was shot.
There have been other occurrences such as items moving and missing in the kitchen and workers, while restoring the hotel, reported that their tools and equipment would move when they looked away. All this activity didn’t shock the Sidways. They had similar experiences while doing restoration on the famously haunted Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. They did however, say that the Geiser Grand’s ghosts were more joyful and playful than the ones at the Biltmore.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baker City Historical Society,