Ghosts, spirits: Are they there?
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Palace Hotel housekeeping manager Cheryl Haller communicates with one of the hotel's spirits using a “Ghost Meter.” Haller, who said she communicates with the ghosts on a daily basis, said they are benevolent.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Palace Hotel has a “ghost book” that documents all of the paranormal occurrences in the building, but manager Gary Schweizer couldn't locate the volume Wednesday.

“I know it's around here somewhere,” he said, rifling through his office. “Maybe one of the guests has it.”

The hotel at 1004 Water St. is in the Capt. Henry L. Tibbals Building, which was built in 1889 and throughout the years has housed a bar, restaurants, a theater, a grocery store, a liquor store and a flower shop.

It gets a lot of attention every Halloween along with Port Townsend's “other” haunted hotel, Manresa Castle, 651 Cleveland St.

Ghosts in both locations are said to be benevolent and not threatening but can sometimes cause damage.

Ashley Cons, Manresa's front desk supervisor, said she had inspected a room a few years ago and sent some guests up who immediately called and said the mirror was broken.

“No one could have gone into that room between when we left and the guests walked in,” Cons said.

“And it wasn't like it had just slipped and fallen,” she said.

“It was smashed in the middle of the floor as if someone picked it up and threw it across the room.”

Since the 1960s, guests and visitors at the 16-room Palace Hotel have said they have seen or sensed the “Lady in Blue,” who also was known as Miss Claire.

Along with its scrapbook of “ghost files,” a guestbook next to the Lady in Blue's portrait allows guests to chime in.

Palace housekeeping manager Cheryl Heller said she has interacted with several ghosts at the hotel for about 20 years.

The process was bumped up a notch when a guest gave her a battery-operated “ghost meter” earlier this year.

The palm-sized machine has two extremes, “yes” and “no,” like a Ouija board, and the needle jumps back and forth in reaction to the current conversation, Haller said.

In a demonstration for the Peninsula Daily News on Wednesday, Heller conversed with one of the ghosts through the machine.

“How are you? Are you happy?” Heller asked as the needle bounced toward the “yes” side enthusiastically.

“Wow, it's really moving right now,” she said.

“We have nothing to fear from these ghosts, although some people get scared or nervous if they think the ghosts are around,” she added.

Cons said there reportedly are two haunted rooms in Manresa Castle: Room 302, in which a preacher who had lost his faith hung himself, and Room 306, in which a woman threw herself out the window when she learned her lover was lost at sea.

The reports of his death were exaggerated, so the woman took up residence in the room where she last drew breath.

In 2003, the hotel's former manager told former PDN reporter Jennifer Jackson that a bartender made up both ghost stories to satisfy people who pestered him about strange things in the hotel, like footsteps in the attic and voices in empty rooms.

But Cons said mediums who have come to the place have said the “ghosts are mostly friendly.

“Although they said the ghosts come and go and aren't always here,” Cons added.

“Maybe it's like a hotel for them.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 30. 2013 7:31PM
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