“Caspers and Wendys” in southern Jefferson County

QUILCENE — Step across the threshold of the Quilcene Hotel and you’ll find a place that radiates life and warmth.

Bright-colored quilts hang on the walls of the bedrooms.

Laughing children can be heard upstairs, running from room to room as they play hide and seek.

Music filters through the hallways, and women’s voices, rising and falling, can be heard as they sift through the gossip of the day.

Except the voices can be heard when the guests are gone. No radios play in the rooms.

And no children have lived on the premises for decades.

Welcome to the Quilcene Hotel, where guests come and go, but the rooms are never vacant.

“People are adamant we have ghosts,” says owner Kathleen Emmerson.

Book in progress

Reports of spirited conversations in the hotel hallways are among the surreal stories that JoAnn Bussa and Laura Reutter are collecting for the Jefferson County Historical Society, which plans to publish a book on haunted places in the county.

They’ve gathered the well-known stories about haunted rooms at Manresa Castle and strange sightings in Port Townsend hotels and Victorian inns.

Bussa, who lives in Brinnon, has also uncovered lesser-known tales of haunted buildings in southern Jefferson County where, according to the natives, the spirits are friendly.

“Mine are very benevolent, very nurturing,” Emmerson says.

“Nobody has ever been scared by them.”

Women with children

The Quilcene Hotel, built in 1917, has always been a hotel or boarding house, Emmerson says, and has always been operated by women with children.

According to her guests, some of the former owners are still in residence.

“Three or four times a year, people will come downstairs and say they hear women and children laughing at the end of the hall,” Emmerson says.

“When they go down to that end, it’s coming from the other end.

“It doesn’t matter what end you’re at, it’s at the other end.”

Guests also report hearing music and ask if a radio is playing. Kids write, “I like your ghost,” in the guest books.

“I’ve even had men come downstairs and say, ‘You have a ghost,”‘ Emmerson says.

Most people who stay in the hotel find it a peaceful place, she says, and tell her they haven’t slept so well in years.

But one guest reported being awakened to the sound of children giggling in her room.

“She said they sounded so pleased that they were hiding and she couldn’t see them,” Emerson says.

“It made her feel happy. She was sure there were some kids in the room.

“She even got up and looked behind the furniture.”

Something upstairs?

The innkeeper, who lives in a basement apartment with her husband, says she has never heard the voices or laughter and doesn’t believe in ghosts.

But sometimes, when she goes upstairs to ready the bedrooms for guests, things happen that make her wonder if childish spirits are pulling pranks.

“One door always closes right behind me, with a swoosh, like they’re playing with me,” Emmerson says.

“One day I was telling someone about it and said, ‘It’s probably the wind’.

“The next time I went up there, the door opened by itself. That’s the only time it ever did that. It was the weirdest thing.”

Emmerson says if there are ghosts, they are “Caspers and Wendys.”

The hotel’s happy vibes were confirmed by a psychic who spent a night at the hotel and went through all the rooms, reading the atmosphere.

“She said most were happy, but in one room, a lot of money changed hands,” Emmerson says.

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