When construction crews went to work on restoring the 133-year-old Grand Imperial Hotel this summer, they found more than the usual structural and plumbing problems.
They also report encountering apparent paranormal activity that some attribute to the ghost of a man who committed suicide in a third floor room – almost exactly 125 years ago.
And a ghost-hunting expert is warning that the historic hotel could face an increase in paranormal activity, given the convergence of the 125th anniversary of the tragic death, Halloween and the ongoing renovation work that may be disturbing the resident spirit.
Elizabeth Green of Durango, co-author of Ghost Tracks: Haunting Tales Along the Rails, said she is hoping to deploy a team of ghost hunters next month to investigate the mysterious goings-on at the hotel.
“We really need to get a ghost-hunting team back together and do something with the Grand Imperial,” Green said. “Everything I’ve heard says, yeah, there’s some kind of presence. It’s absolutely worth looking into and something we’ve talked about doing.”
Jim Harper, whose family acquired the historic hotel in April, said the construction activity seems to have annoyed a resident spirit.
“On the third floor, contractors have inexplicably had nails thrown at them and chunks of drywall chucked at them,” Harper said.
“It gets to the point where they go downstairs and hang out for a while” waiting for the irate ghost to calm down.
There have also been complaints of construction noise at 3 a.m., even though no work is actually being done at that time.
Harper said that the hotel staff members are convinced that the paranormal activities are coming from Room 314.
That’s apparently the room (since renumbered) where on Nov. 1, 1890 – 125 years ago – 42-year-old Luigi Regalia shot himself about 10:30 p.m. He died early the next morning.
Harper said the housekeeping staff won’t go into that room unless they are in pairs.
“They say they feel like they’re getting touched by something,” Harper said. “And beds they just made suddenly appear to have been sat or lain on.”
Then, about two months ago, a strange pacing noise came from Room 219 in the middle of the night, Harper said, leaving some to believe the spirit has changed rooms.
Gilbert Archuleta of Silverton, who is working on the restoration project, said workers have come across a room that had been dead-bolted from the inside, but nobody was there.
“He (the ghost) is getting a little upset because all this (construction work) is happening,” Archuleta speculated.
And Susan Toms, who works at the hotel, recalls a visit to the building at night last spring when her dog, Martini, got spooked. Since then, Martini always sticks close by her in the building.
But Green said the increase in reported ghost activity at the Grand Imperial probably poses little actual threat.
“Nothing you’re really describing to me sounds malevolent,” Green said.
She hopes to bring a team in with recording devices and electro-magnetic field monitors to see if they can detect whatever is causing the disturbances.
She said her team has already conducted studies at the Miners Union Hospital and the train depot in Silverton and has detected some significant anomalies, including voices.
Green said that ghost researchers have very tight parameters in determining what may actually be paranormal.
“But even with all the skepticism, we found things we couldn’t explain away,” she said.