WOW! The Flanders Hotel has long been called “The Jewel of the Jersey Shore”, and we can see why! The Flanders Hotel is an eight story, Spanish Mission style rectangular structure that has two wings facing the ocean. This 1923 grand historic hotel has been both well maintained and authentically restored, when possible, and renovated with modern amenities throughout the years.
It is an “All Suites Boardwalk Hotel”. Its 117 suites have been able to continue to attract guests and remain what it has always been; a resort hotel for upper class to wealthy vacationers and their families, as well as offering first class accommodations for any social occasion or event. It has a great location very near the beach.
Other former rooms of the original hotel have been renovated into condos that bring in money year round, which helps to keep the Flanders Hotel looking its best. It is a common practice among older, larger hotels to turn some of their huge supply of rooms that they will never fill even during their busy seasons into permanent housing for people wishing to live in the area year round. Condos are an upscale alternative. (Montauk Hotel – Long island)
Walking inside, the entire, immense lobby area is decorated with upscale, high end 1920’s and 1930s’ antiques, plus a few impressive works of art. My favorites are the Bronze mermaid with the cut glass, green tail scales, and wonderful hand-carved circular table held up with fish standing on their flippers.
The 12-15 foot ceilings are stamped with a floral decor and stamped ceiling boarders as well. Chandeliers and fans bring added elegance. The black grand piano is another elegant addition.
Besides the lobby, the first floor offers amenities like swimming pools, family dining in the Emily’s Cafe, a fitness room, library, an upscale, interesting gift shop, and an event room for weddings.
The well-finished basement, known as “The Catacombs of the Flanders”, has seven or eight expansive rooms for a variety of activities; legal and illegal during Prohibition.
The second floor has several large event rooms and Promenade Suites; some with views of the ocean. A formal dining room/ballroom has mirrored doors all the way down the hallway leading to its entrance. A board room used for business meetings and other business events has lovely woodwork and panels, with wood beams in the ceiling.
In the main area just off the staircase on the second floor, there is a huge, white carved stone fireplace, a small bar and a white grand piano. This is a very classy atmosphere indeed.
Recently, three million dollars was used to update and renovate the rooms and common areas at The Flanders Hotel to be competitive with other luxury resort hotels in Ocean City. There are 117 luxury suites that have been nicely renovated to please today’s guests. The one to five room suites; some being ocean front, range from 600 to 3,400 sq ft. and all have kitchenettes. Luxury condos are also available so people can live there year round.
The Flanders Hotel began after a 1922 meeting of up and coming entrepreneurs in Atlantic City, who formed a company, and enthusiastically embraced a new project; to build an upscale seaside hotel resort for the well-to-do upper class and their families at Ocean City Boardwalk.
Its name, The Flanders Hotel, was chosen in honor of the American Flanders Cemetery in Belgium where American soldiers who were killed in battle during WWI were buried.
The Flanders Hotel opened in 1923, with 215 luxury rooms, a boatload of amenities and perks aimed at the rich businessman and his family.
The Flanders Hotel’s structural bones were built with steel girders and cement to guard against fires. This choice of building materials worked well, because it was spared from destruction during a 1927 fire that took out most of the boardwalk and some hotels and businesses. The Flanders Hotel took this opportunity to add a two story extension to their original hotel that connected with the new Ocean City Boardwalk, which was rebuilt a block closer to the ocean.
In 1929, large, saltwater swimming pools were added and were a very popular amenity indeed for The Flanders Hotel. The opening of the saltwater swimming pools made the Flander’s catacombs into “an instrumental area of the hotel”.
“In the 1920’s and 30’s, guests were expected to be well dressed and were not allowed to enter the lobbies in bathing suits. Guests would enter the catacombs through a back stairwell and would either climb the steps to enter the salt water pools or go through the tunnel that went under the boardwalk, in order to go to the beach. The bathers and beach goers would come back to the hotel, enter the catacombs and use the changing rooms and showers at their leisure.”
Its Spanish Mission Revival architecture, designed by Vivian Smith, inspired many other businesses and finer hotels along the boardwalk to use this style as well. Grace Kelly’s house in Ocean City also, was built in the Spanish Mission Revival style.
Ocean City became the most popular resort destination in America. From The Flanders Hotel’s opening day in 1923 until 1929 when the market crashed, The Flanders Hotel was extremely popular with the well-off business class and movie stars, as well as, apparently, Mafia families, who probably were enjoying the hotel and its amenities while the men met downstairs in the basement with their “meetings”.
The Depression Era was hard financially for the original corporation that built The Flanders Hotel, resulting in the Flanders Hotel being sold in its entirety to Elwood Kirkman in 1932; the year that Prohibition was repealed and Al Capone went to jail. Elwood Kirkman, a multimillionaire lawyer, banker and stockbroker, bought The Flanders Hotel, through his company; Boardwalk Securities.
Elwood Kirkman was a hands-on owner proved to be a fountain of business sense and managed to keep The Flanders Hotel a first class establishment with its grand manner amenities intact; still being the “Jewel of the Jersey Shore.”
The Flanders Hotel attracted stars such as Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, successful businessmen as the “three Lit brothers of department store frame” and cartoonist Al Capp. It was very popular throughout the 1930s through the 1970s, because Kirkman was willing to invest funds to keep the amenities and decor up to snuff, making the Flanders Hotel a competitive “Luxury Seaside Resort Hotel”.
In the 1950’s, the rooms in the catacombs were renovated and updated. There were two large bar areas, rooms catering to card players, and rooms for private events that served food and drinks. One room was called “The Island”, one was named “The Captain’s room”, and other rooms were known as “The Inlet Rooms”.
Starting in the 1970s, Kirkman started to have legal trouble, being sued for unfair practices in his land acquisitions. The legal battle that finally nailed him financially was a 1977 class action suit against him and a handful of directors at Kirkman’s company; Boardwalk Securities, by minority shareholders of Boardwalk Securities. He was sued for using 1.2 million dollars of shareholder’s dividends to pay his own taxes. This not only stole from the minority shareholders, but allowed him to buy more shares of his company at a lower level.
This class action lawsuit came to fruition with a $3.8 million judgement against Kirkman in February of 1993. As much of Kirkman’s money was tied up in trust funds for his children, the court auctioned off his assets.
According to a February 1993 article posted on philly.com website, “Among the assets on the block yesterday were 297 shares of stock in Boardwalk Securities; 4,575 shares in the Atlantic City Racing Association, which owns the Atlantic City Race Track; 19,802 shares of First Fidelity Bankcorp, and a minor interest in Kirkman’s venerable Flanders Hotel on the Ocean City Boardwalk”.
Unfortunately, only 1.7 million dollars was raised with this court-ordered auction. Uh oh. They began to think about ways to go after The Flanders Hotel, his favorite investment; a labor of love. Kirkman himself had tried to sell the large Flanders Hotel property as one parcel since 1983, because the upper classes wanted more bling and pazaz in their resort hotel that newer places could offer, and Kirkman could no longer keep up with the competition.
Toward the end of his life, Kirkman found some comfort in his favorite property and moved his office into The Flanders Hotel; he even gave input into its management, like he used to do in the 1930s. Kirkman died eight months later, in October of 1993 at the age of 88.
After Kirkman died, his family beat the court’s plans and sold off The Flanders Hotel property in sections, raising money to pay the lawsuit. As the Flanders Hotel was a beloved landmark of the people of Ocean City, plans to turn it into a retirement home were nixed.
James M. Dwyer of Ocean City Partners purchased The Flanders Hotel in 1996, with a plan that would generate funds to restore this “Jewel of the Jersey Shore”. Dwyer remodeled some of the rooms as condominium units, which provided income to restore and update The Flanders Hotel. The newly updated Flanders Hotel reopened as a resort hotel once again on Labor Day in 1997, with much fanfare. The Drifters and the Coasters performed for a large crowd of people who were so happy to have their landmark hotel renewed and up and running. New Jersey Governor, Christie Whitman, also attended with other dignitaries.
In 2003, all the original property including all the floors of the hotel came under one owner, when The Flanders Condominium Association bought The Flanders Hotel’s 2nd floor banquet center, offices, conference rooms and adjacent parking lot from the Ocean City Partners.
Millions of dollars were invested in the building over four years. The Hotel’s historic exterior was given a face-lift, while the guest suites, pool and deck areas were renovated and modernized yet again to satisfy the tastes of their clientele, becoming once again on the competitive level, yet being mindful of the historic elements. The Flanders Hotel was placed on National Register of Historic Places on November 20, 2009, meaning that the owners were and are committed to the historic attributes of the Flanders Hotel.
The hotel currently operates as an all suites luxury ocean front boardwalk hotel that also has one to three room condominiums for people who want to live there.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Hotels, restaurants and clubs during the Prohibition years often had a speakeasy for their guests who still wanted to drink. This often meant the involvement of the local chapter of the Mafia. Uh oh.
A Speakeasy was located in one of the rooms in the basement and a gaming room as well, with cards and a roulette wheel.
This meant that members of the Mafia would not only run the hotel’s Speakeasy, but sometimes would conduct their “official business” somewhere far from the eyes of the guests and police; in one of the basement’s rooms.
Historically, people who displeased the Mafia; people with issues who enjoyed the Mafia-run services, and Mafia members who knew too much, often were disposed of in unpleasant ways. However, while no official, recorded murders took place in the basement or anywhere else that can be linked to The Flanders, the possibility still exists and may account for some of the spirits there. The bodies were simply removed by carrying them out through the tunnel.
According to psychic medium Joseph Tittel, two people were killed in the Flander’s Catacombs. Someone was hanged and another person was murdered as well, probably in a quiet way; by knife or strangulation.
The Flanders Hotel was a favorite meeting place for the the various Mafia families, in one of the rooms in the basement. The hotel management couldn’t say no to them. Not only were they in charge of the running of the Speakeasy and gaming, but it wasn’t wise to refuse the Mafia.
People who have bonds between them due to their work they did together, like to gather and remember the good times in their favorite places in this world when in spirit form
Perhaps some entities who were members of the Mafia when alive, still get together to enjoy their bonds of friendship that developed in their lives here at The Flander’s Hotel.
People who enjoyed themselves at a favorite vacation spot or at a place where they loved to work in this world often like to visit the place as spirits and remember the good times they had and relive it the best they can.
Card playing and the bars in the Catacombs were places of great enjoyment.
Many fun social events took place in the second floor Ballroom.
Past guests enjoyed their rooms as well.
A female Entity that the staff calls Emily is still enjoying herself, as well as many other former guests now in spirit form.
Children who die in accidents or from illness, sometimes hang around near the place they died, especially if it was a comforting, happy place. Sometimes these children who die from accidents or disease cannot rest until they find a parent.
A young girl died of hypothermia in the basement after being carried through the tunnel from the beach. It is thought that this youngster may be the daughter of the female entity known by staff as “Emily”, or more likely the other female brown-haired entity.
People who suffer an awful spirit-shattering loss while alive, sometimes are not able to let go of their grief completely and continue to mourn their losses.
There are many strong spirits in The Flanders Hotel.
Entity of Emily; (probably her real name is Maryann or Marilyn)
She is described as being a very happy woman in her late 20s or early 30s, with long, red, curly hair. She wears a white, long formal dress with a train and is barefoot.
She has made her presence known all over the hotel for years, especially the lobby, ballroom/formal dining area, the third and fourth floor suites and the catacombs. She has appeared so many times that the hotel had a local artist, Tony Troy, paint a large portrait of Emily from all the descriptions he collected from staff members and guests alike.
She loves to sing to music only she hears and dances as well, apparently all over the hotel.
Probably in the Ballroom and Lobby:
Emily once appeared in front of 100 people, so she isn’t shy showing herself in front of the living.
People have seen her in the mirrors that line the hallway to the ballroom and dining area.
Emily loves social events of the living as well. Emily can also invite herself to a wedding event and reception, as her misty form was caught on film by a wedding photographer.
On the Third and Fourth Floors:
The living have seen the end of the train of Emily’s white dress go around the corner of corridors.
Emily appears and disappears into walls, and makes appearances in guests’ suites.
She is suspected of being the one who plays with door locks, opens and shuts doors, unscrews light bulbs, though these acts of fun may also be the work of other spirits who call The Flanders Hotel their after-life home.
Guests and staff have heard and seen her singing to music only she hears and expressing herself by dancing as well.
Entity of woman in her thirties with dark hair
She has been seen as well, but is quite different from happy Emily. She doesn’t have a spirit of fun, only a solemn countenance. It is unknown if she had killed herself because of her loss, so we will not assume this. However, she is still mourning a huge loss.
Owners and managers have heard a woman sobbing, coming from suites that are empty of the living.
She may be the mother of the little girl entity, Sarah, who died in the catacombs so long ago.
She may be mourning the loss of a loved one killed in war or an accident.
She may be the wife of one of the men who were murdered in the Catacombs.
Entity of Young Girl-Sarah
During a ghost tour event, Sarah told psychic medium Joseph Tittel that she died because of being too cold from the ocean water, perhaps after being rescued from some mishap in the water. They had carried her through the tunnel to the basement, where she died.
When Joseph relayed this information to the ghost tour guide, the guide was rather snarky and rude. The entity of the child slammed the door shut to protest the guide’s lack of manners.
Sarah has told others probably through EVPs that were caught on EVP recorders that she is looking for her mother.
Entity of Males and Females in the basement – The Flanders Hotel Catacombs
Apparently, Emily has plenty of company in the Flander’s Catacombs; former party animals now in spirit-form. Happy Entities who enjoyed the party atmosphere of the Prohibition days still are reliving their fun times in drinking, gaming and social enjoyment.
Other Entities located here are not so happy. In some places there is a heavy atmosphere, that is described by the staff who have come down to the basement as a “deeply unsettling vibe”. This is sometimes felt in places that experienced a lot of negative actions; perhaps in places where the Mafia had to do their “unpleasant business”.
They also see dark shadows and can feel not-so-nice eyes watching their every move, supervising them in an unfriendly way. Perhaps a Mafia enforcer is still doing his job.
Entities in the Ballroom Area
Male and Female entities have been seen floating around the area in a festive mood and even dancing together.
A big yes indeed! The Flanders Hotel has had resident and visiting spirits on the guest list, and have various reasons why they have picked the Flanders Hotel. Paranormal investigators; both scientific and psychic, have experienced contact with the spirits and caught hard evidence as well in EVP’s, photos, temperature drops and unexplained readings, as well as having personal experiences.
Many members of the staff, guests and paranormal investigators; both scientific and psychic, have experienced contact with the spirits and caught hard evidence as well in both EVP’s, and unexplained readings.
Quite a few owners, managers, staff members and guests over the years have experienced the whole sports package of paranormal activity at The Flanders Hotel.
South Jersey Ghost Research group had posted the following results of their investigation at The Flanders Hotel. “The SJGR investigators obtained an above average level of physical evidence indicating spirit activity. Of the photos taken, 10% contained energy orbs. There were also orbs captured on the infrared video camera. We recorded 27 EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). We also obtained 12 unexplainable readings on our EMF meters which indicate a fluctuation in the electromagnetic field with no natural sources found. Investigators detected one anomalous temperature drop with no explainable source during the investigation.”
Psychic medium Joseph Tittel reports on his blog some of his spectral contacts and impressions when he participated in a paranormal event. He mentions on his blog that he was exhausted after having contact with so many strong spirits at both his reading event and the investigation as well.
The Flanders Hotel is located within a few minutes walking distance to the Ocean City beach front and the Ocean City Boardwalk that is abuzz during the summer tourist and vacation season.