PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
When guests check into a hotel, the last thing they want to see evidence of people who have stayed in the room before them.
But Dan and Rita Addison hope they do.
The Addisons’ hobby is traveling the country staying in haunted hotels.
“We like to scare ourselves silly,” said Addison, a family physician.
The Port Angeles couple have hunted ghosts in hotels in Seattle, New Orleans, Salem, Mass., Victoria, San Francisco and Hollywood, Calif. — including the famous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, haunted by Marilyn Monroe.
But the place they keep coming back to is Port Townsend’s Manresa Castle.
“Manresa Castle is one of the most interesting places with more activity on a reliable basis than any other place we’ve been,” Addison said.
The Addisons say they have experienced paranormal behavior every visit since they started coming to Manresa several years ago.
They always stay in one of the former Jesuit monastery’s haunted rooms:
* Room 302 — the turret room below the attic in which a priest hanged himself.
* Room 306 — the room where a young woman named Kate, a visitor when the house was a private residence, allegedly threw herself out a window after learning her fiance was lost at sea.
The fiance later proved to be alive, the story goes.
Both rooms are next to the staircase leading to the attic.
Skeptic turns believer
Addison’s wife was a skeptic, he said, until the first night they stayed at the castle.
She had walked downstairs about midnight to get some ice and was in the breakfast area when she saw an elderly woman in an old-fashioned white nightgown near the kitchen door, he said.
“She went and asked the night manager if there was still staff working down there, and he said no,” Addison said.
On another visit, Rita was lying in bed when she had the feeling someone was looking at her, then heard a whooshing sound by the window, he said.
Later that day, the couple bought the book Ghosts Stories of Washington, which has a chapter on Manresa Castle.
They discovered that other people had had the same experiences, Addison said, noting perhaps Kate was looking at a married couple and thinking of what she had lost.
Addison, who roams the halls at night, said he has also heard people talking and moving about an unoccupied room — the night manager told them that happens about once a month.
The couple has also detected cold spots in the rooms, and had the lights and television go on and off for no reason.
“Now she’s a believer,” Addison said of his wife. “She’s the one that attracts it all.”
The Addisons’ strange hobby grew out of hosting scary parties for their son Dan, now 23, whose birthday is near Halloween.
Now seasoned ghost hunters, they travel with the tools of the trade: an electro-magnetic field monitor, infrared thermometer, a night vision camera and a tape recorder.
“I’m like Bill Murray in ‘Ghostbusters’ going through Sigourney Weaver’s apartment with the ghost detector,” Addison said.
Addison said he uses the night vision camera to capture orbs, unusual lights that appear on film.
When the Addisons stayed at another of Port Townsend’s haunted hotels, the Ann Starrett House, he used the night vision camera, panning across the room in the middle of the night.
“When I played it back, there were two or three orbs there,” he said.
Starrett House also has a woman in a white nightgown climbing the circular staircase, who has been seen by several visitors, innkeeper Gracie Smith said.
The woman is always described as having her hair in a bun and carrying a brass candlestick.
Smith, who lived in the house for 1½ years, has never seen the apparition, but has felt the presence of Ann Starrett in the parlor as well as the drawing room, she said.
‘No one there’
And then there was the day Gracie was in the house by herself and the door bell kept ringing.
“I went to the door, which was open, but there was no one there,” she said.
Smith closed the door and returned to her quarters.
Again, the bell rang.
After it happened the third time, she was turning to cross the entry hall, when she had the impression she had run into someone and said, “Excuse me.”
“It felt like a thickness, like I was walking through water,” Smith said.
The Addisons plan to stay in Port Townsend’s other supposedly haunted hotels, the Palace and the Belmont. But they may be a few years too late to catch the ghost at the Bishop Victorian.
“We had a ghost in two of our suites when we bought the hotel,” said Joe Finnie, its owner of seven years.
“Then we had a ghost removal lady who happened to be staying with us. She told us after the fact that she had, in her words, ‘cleansed the rooms of these wonderful spirits.”‘
Finnie said before the unauthorized exorcism, windows would open by themselves, curtains would blow in the night and a white apparition would float through the two rooms.
“I haven’t heard of any sightings in the last four years,” Finnie said.
Sightings at the Belmont are also sketchy, with only one person reportedly seeing a female ghost in the restaurant, and a few reports of poltergeist behavior in the rooms, according to owner Rick Unrue.
“We don’t have much of a reputation for ghosts,” Unrue said.
The Addisons may have better luck at the Palace Hotel on Water Street.
Formerly a brothel, the hotel is said to be haunted by the former madam, Marie, as well as a person who was thrown from one of the loft bedrooms during a domestic dispute.
The daughter of the man who erected the building, Capt. Tibbals, may also still be in residence, according to desk clerk Hillari Gullikson.
“We’ve had ghost trackers stay, and they said there are three ghosts here,” Gullikson said.
The hotel keeps a file of ghost stories, which include reports of furniture moved around above Rooms 9 and 6, Gullikson said.
“The most intriguing story concerns a painting of a woman at top of stairs, who’s known to be outside of her painting when people walk by,” Gullikson said.
The painting is either Marie or Tibbals’ daughter, Gullikson said, or they could one in the same.
Addison said every encounter they have had has been nonthreatening and completely benign, except one.
That was in the Mayflower Hotel in Seattle, where at midnight the clothes hanging in the closet were hurled to the floor and the room became really hot.
“We got the feeling we shouldn’t be there,” Addison said.
The couple went back, however, and stayed in the same room.
And they’ll keep coming back to Manresa Castle.
“It’s a beautiful place to stay,” Addison said.“For paranormal experience, Manresa Castle takes the cake.”