Monday, November 2, 2015

The Historic Cary House Hotel

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
Built in 1857, the Cary House Hotel still stands in Placerville, CA, and is still a functioning hotel. 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 located across the street from the hotel, I made friends with the manager, who graciously let me take photos inside and out, and meet one of the two most active resident ghosts. I found it interesting to learn that the hotel featured such luxuries as hot and cold running water (a novelty in its time), an elegant grand staircase, and a lobby handcrafted in mahogany and cherry woods.
Echoes from a colorful history still linger in the halls of this elegant place of lodging. Early days provided a regular stop for stage lines that brought travelers to the gold country. In some instances the stages returned to the San Francisco mint with millions of dollars in bullion. Its wrought-iron trimmed balcony not only added to its grace, but also lent a great space for Horace Greely to give a speech. The world-renowned “Hangtown Fry” (consisting of oysters and scrambled eggs) was created at the Cary House cook at the request of a miner who'd struck it rich in the nearby gold fields.
As I mentioned before, the hotel is inhabited by two ghosts. Stan is the ghost I tangled with. He lives mostly in the lobby of the hotel. In the gold rush heyday, he worked as the clerk at the check-in counter. He loved the place. He has stuck around all these years since his death. In the beginning of his employment, Stan checked patrons in and out of the Cary House. He had a great love of liquor, especially brandy and whiskey. When he wasn’t working, he would head down to Rivendell’s Book Store where he could socialize. Back then, the store was a great place to visit with fellow patrons, and to get a drink, especially on the cold damp days of winter. Stan 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, 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. It's kept inside a room not much bigger than a closet. The wrought-iron door wouldn’t open. I tried, but to no avail. So did the manager. It was no big deal as the staircase was grand and fun to walk up to the second and third floors. I was disappointed because it looked like a fun ride. However, on the way back down to the lobby the door opened and worked perfectly.
Maybe old Stan was so happy to see me leave the hotel that he gladly let me take the ride. Some of the patrons have said they've seen their doorknobs turn when they retire for the night. Some believe Stan checks the door to each room with a lady guest just to make sure they are safely locked inside their rooms.
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. I took many photos the day I encountered Stan. I used the hotel in my Paradise Pines Series: Night Angel. Having the pictures reminded me of its elegance and made it easy for me to add the building as a large part of my story. The hero, Declan Grainger, was the hotel owner and since he was a Scot, he named it Chaumers Hotel, which means a house with many bedrooms.
Lily Fox craves attention. Her amazing voice and ability to mesmerize the miners and lumberjacks in a mountain community saloon brings her more than the notoriety she needs. She draws the attention of the town's hotel owner. If she plays her cards close to her chest and becomes his queen of hearts, the wealthy Scot could give her more than she dreamed.
The day Lily Fox sauntered into his hotel with the poise of a self-assured woman, Declan Grainger knew trouble wasn't far behind. Stealing his heart was only the beginning...
Declan realizes that underneath Lily's flamboyant behavior is a frightened, insecure woman searching for stability and a proper place in society.
Declan aches for Lily's love. He can't ask for her heart without revealing his secret life. If he unmasked himself as Paradise Pines' allusive Night Angel, how would she react?


  1. What a great post and wonderful pictures! A ghost! Be still my heart! I adore Placerville and now need to go back to explore more. Your book sounds absolute amazing! Gonna check it out now!!

  2. Thanks, Tanya. It's one of my favorites. I loved it in the Cary House and my boss wouldn't even walk thru the front door because she could feel the ghosts. :)

  3. Ghosts! Who knew you had a paranormal side?

    1. You of all people should have known...

    2. Hi Paisley,
      I enjoy your tales from the Gold Country, especially about the old hotels and their resident ghosts. Makes me want to venture up there again....

    3. Hi Arletta, I loved spending time in the Cary House. I hope you do make it to Placerville to visit the place. Thanks for coming by.

  4. The Cary House looks like a beautiful place. Lovely pictures. I really like the title, story concept, and cover for Night Angel. I wish you continued success, Paisley.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I have been blessed with a wonderful cover artist and she is sticking with me through my next series as well. I loved spending time at the Cary House because it felt like walking back into a piece of history. :)


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