No sightings at the Jerome Grand
Jun 4, 2003 (Updated Oct 26, 2010)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Outstanding view, friendly staff, historic building, haunted
Cons:We were unable to adjust the tracking on the videotape lent us
The Bottom Line: Anyone with an interest in sightseeing Jerome, history, or the paranormal should enjoy staying at the Jerome Grand Hotel.
The Jerome Grand Hotel is a historic structure that restores some of its old mining town's lost splendor and gives guests a friendly place to stay, rest, and sightsee while visiting Arizona's Yavapai County. It also has the notorious distinction of being featured in a segment of the Science Fiction Channel's Sightings series, which described its hauntings. Although I was disappointed in my hope of seeing a little phenomena, I was intrigued by the opportunity to use fully functional 1920s technology. I wish I could've stayed longer.
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Perched above downtown Jerome, this hotel actually started its life as the United Verde Hospital in January 1927. By 1930, it was declared the most state-of-the-art medical facility in Arizona, if not the West. When the mines of the town of Jerome closed, it brought on an exodus of its population as well. The hospital closed in 1950, but it was kept at the ready—with all beds, linens, and equipment in their places—in case the need for it arose again. In the 1960s, Jerome's population had dwindled to less than 100. In 1970, the Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation deserted the structure. In 1994, it was bought by the Altherr family, who spent two years restoring it and its utilities (a project that is still on-going) before opening it as a hotel.
As a history buff and big ghost folklore fan, my interest was aroused as soon as I saw the segment on Sightings. During the building's 44 years of abandonment, there had been stories of a woman in white appearing on its balcony. Students would challenge each other to break into the building to see if anything was in there. One adventurous young man who trespassed swears he saw a trail of blood dividing a hallway and funeral wreath hanging from the ceiling, but made no effort to find a rational explanation before he ran out and has no desire to go near the building again.* Yet another story I had run across was that of a guest who saw a door open without any human help when he went to bed one night. He was so frightened, he slept in the lobby.
My Jerome Grand experience
When I learned that a commitment I made in Phoenix left me free an additional day in Arizona, I booked the last night of my Arizona trip at the Jerome Grand Hotel. With less than a week away before our reservation, it made any recitation of the cancellation penalties a silly exercise. The process was friendly and efficient.
When my companion, Russell, and I arrived, its parking lot was full. It was the happening place in Jerome that Sunday evening, making it awkward to take our luggage in. However, when we checked in, things went like a breeze. The paperwork went quickly. We had to be instructed how to use the old Otis elevator, were told the room's telephone was actually connected to an old switchboard where the front desk attendant had to connect the lines herself, and were lent a videotape with two half-hour documentaries on the history of Jerome. They also suggested that we turn on our ceiling fan as soon as we went to our room.
To use the elevator was a trip through time. We had to hold the call button down a few seconds to ensure it received the message. When it arrived, we first had to manually open the solid outer door, then a sort of "chain-link" inner one. The interior was beautifully decorated with a table, vase, and an upholstered bench-like stool. After closing the aforementioned doors, we had to unlock its control board with our room key in order for it to take us to our floor. As fun as it was to give this antique a whirl, it was rather time-consuming when we were only on the second floor. After our first trip upstairs, we only used it when we were hauling our luggage.
The room was lovely and, since the building sits 5,240 feet above sea level, it's hard to believe there is another hotel in Arizona that gives as outstanding of a view. Our standard room had three windows, including the one in the bathroom, which faced Jerome State Historic Park, San Francisco Peaks, and Sedona's red rock mountains. This spacious room had tastefully decorated gray walls with dark mauve trim. The complimentary toiletries included were conditioning shampoo, mouthwash, hand lotion, and a shower cap, if I recall correctly (Russell absconded all of the freebies).
One drawback at this hotel could be its temperature control. Although it had a cooling system in its hallway, it sounded like it may have been about as old as its "original 50 horsepower Kewanee boiler [that] provides low pressure steam heat to all rooms." Our room had a ceiling fan and a ventilation window above the door. The best time of year to avoid Arizona's harshest weather is November through April. We found it warm in May, but it was still reasonable.
We never took advantage of using the old phone system provided. Russell's cell phone is on the Virgin/Sprint system and he received an excellent signal in Jerome (which is more than we can say about Cochise County). The biggest complaint we had about our stay at this hotel was that the videotape lent to us lost its good tracking after the first documentary.
As for dining, the hotel accommodates Jerome's poshest restaurant, The Asylum, where we had dinner that evening. In the morning, coffee and donuts are provided in the lobby for its guests. This would normally be my breakfast of choice, but since Russell is diabetic, we opted for a full one at the Jerome Grille instead.
We only stayed one night, so there's no judging how good their room cleaning service is. The room was clean and attractive when we arrived and the maids were busy at work on our floor when we departed.
The ghost stuff
Hearing a place is haunted is one thing, but the real fun in ghostlore comes from learning the story behind it. Since the building became officially occupied again, there have been no more sightings of the woman in white on its balcony. The thoughts that run through my mind are: woman in white + hospital = former nurse. Oddly enough, the thought of asking more about her never occurred to me while I was there, so her appearances remain a mystery.
I was most appreciative the staff was willing to talk about the hotel's hauntings. Because I made my interest clear, they even offered to trade the Jerome videotape they lent us for another that included the segment Sightings did on the hotel, which they only give to guests who ask. With a couple of other guests browsing the gift shop in the lobby at the time, the desk clerk nearly gasped when I brought up the ugliest incident in the Jerome Grand's history. "Don't talk about Mr. Harvey!"
In 1935, the dead body of one of United Verde Hospital's employees, Claude Harvey, was found at the bottom of the previously mentioned elevator's shaft. After learning of the event, the current owner of the hotel located the paperwork from Harvey's inquest, which determined that the elevator did not kill him. (Every effort has been made to ensure the mechanical integrity of this 1926 elevator.) Someone had dumped his body there. Many people believe the source of the haunting is Harvey, concluding he is the shade of a bearded man who has occasionally been noticed wandering around the premises (particularly the basement). His apparition had been seen even while the building was still an active hospital.
The fact is, just by virtue of this structure being a former hospital, spirits will linger. People have died there while others have suffered from emotional trauma. Some of the phenomena witnessed at the Jerome Grand have been disembodied coughing, phones ringing the front desk from vacant rooms, and fans being turned on and off. I was told the uncanny happens infrequently and that the guest who slept in the lobby occurred about a year and a half ago. Today, most of the phenomena reported occurs in its restaurant, The Asylum, where the doctors' and administrators' offices were formerly located. This actually makes sense, since they would be the people who in the past had the biggest emotional investment in this building.
When we arrived in our room, I nonetheless pulled out my compass and left it out on a table during our stay there. Not a single jiggle on that pointer. The ghosts were doing no shows for me, no matter how much I talked about them. However, when we first entered our room, the fan was already on, which did make me wonder.
The bottom line
The Jerome Grand Hotel currently has 22 rooms available, but will have 36 when the owner finishes refurbishing it. Room rates range from $95–$215, before taxes. It is Jerome's only full service hotel. It has a 24-hour lobby and its restaurant is open seven days a week. Cable TV with premium channels and a VCR comes in all rooms. Videos are available for rent in the lobby. Despite being a historic building, accommodating the handicapped should be no problem with its wide doors. (This was a hospital once, after all.) No pets are allowed. Guests requiring a hair dryer do need to bring their own.
My visit was very pleasant. I would have loved to stay longer and soak up some more ghostlore, which Jerome is loaded with, but one is only allowed so much vacation time. Interest in Jerome was revived in 70s when hippies began to move in and it currently has a population of 300+. Today it is primarily an artist colony that depends on tourist dollars. (Unfortunately, the downtown area of Jerome is generally not handicap accessible.) Anyone with an interest in history or the paranormal should enjoy staying at the Jerome Grand.
This is an entry in the (2003) Great Hotel Write-Off, hosted by lyagushka and tombarnes. It's fun and supports the spirit of a common goal: providing consumers and Epinions with a wealth of consumer information that you can find nowhere else. For more info and to read the entries by other contestants, please go to http://www.angelfire.com/moon/lyagushka/index.html.
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