Bismarck North Dakota
Peacock Alley Bar & Grill, and The Patterson Hotel
A few spirits have been trying to “help” the living
in the bar, grill and the kitchen as well.
Apparently, parties are still going strong on the 8th floor’s unused space.
Spectral politicians still gather here for group activity.
The original McKenzie Hotel, whose name changed to The Patterson Hotel in the mid to late 20’s, was designed in the late 19th and early 20th Century “American Movements” styles. Looking at it, one can see the differences in architecture, as the building of this handsome structure took 20 years to complete. It was aimed at the rich and well-to-do folks and had all the bells and whistles of the era.
The original seven floors have a secure, fire-proof support structure of “steel-reinforced concrete with interior partitions and floors of cast concrete slabs. There are no load-bearing walls.” It made the building of more floors relatively easy.
The facing on the second through the 7th floors is made of a lovely brick. These bricks were “custom-made 12-inch bricks, backed with hollow clay tiles.”
The first floor exterior is much more fancy, with an overlaid of cream-colored Bedford stone and concrete. The diagonally placed main entrance is made complete with a pair of “polished granite engaged Doric columns on plinths support a full entablature above the doorway and are themselves flanked by decorative panels.”
Between the fifth and sixth floors, on both facades facing 5th street and Main Ave., stone panels proclaimed the name of McKenzie. When the building changed hames, Patterson was installed on stone panels over it.
Today, while The Patterson Hotel rooms were renovated to meet the needs for senior citizen housing, the first floor’s original 1911 historic decor is the same as when the hotel opened its doors. Walking into the entrance to the first floor, it is like walking back into time.
The Peacock Alley American Bar has been set up in the old hotel lobby area of what was The Patterson Hotel. Vistors and staff of The Peacock Alley Bar have the original Herman Kretz vintage decor to enjoy and appreciate. This vintage space, “measuring 36 by 64 feet, features large plate glass windows with transoms of stained leaded glass, beveled and etched. The flooring is terra cotta; the walls consist of murals, gilt cornices, and buff-colored Kasota marble wainscoting; and the wood finish in mahogany.”
The chandeliers are new replicas, that replaced the circular fluorescent lights installed when the originals needed to be replaced.
Peacock Alley American Grill was moved from its original space, into the hotel’s original formal dining room, and has the original decor designed by Herman Kretz as well. The dining room, 42 by 56 feet, has the same terra cotta flooring, and its murals, mirrored Ionic columns and pilasters are done in the same style as the old lobby. Additional beauty and elegance was added by Kretz as well. “Plate glass mirrors above mahogany wainscoting encompass the room, with the brilliance of the effect augmented by leaded glass panels in the doors between dining room and lobby.”
Miraculously, the Peacock Alley American Grill still has the original square dining tables for four and the bentwood side chairs, imported from Austria. Also, the original six brass and crystal dining room chandeliers, as well as the small wall lamps are still there and working.
It was deemed the “Most Luxurious Hotel” between Minneapolis and Seattle. It’s builder, Ed Patterson saw to that! Some of its amenities included: having the most private bathrooms than any building in the state, high class service, and electricity. The Patterson Hotel was built during the year of 1910 to be fire proof, which was an important feature to many who suffered from loss in the great fire of 1898. It was built with steel reinforced concrete to begin with, and it has held up tremendously. This strong material allowed the easy additions made to this grand, towering dame.
This glorious hotel opened on New Year’s Day of 1911. Under the name of The McKenzie Hotel, this upper class establishment, began as a seven story, 150 room hotel that was the tallest building in Bismarck until the new North Dakota Capitol Building was constructed in 1934. It was constructed by builder/ politician Ed Patterson, designed by Architect Herman Kretz and named in honor of Patterson’s close friend and political crony, political boss Alexander McKenzie, known for his many under the table deals, which may have been a little illegal.
The Patterson Hotel was a political hot spot for many years. Being the grandest hotel in Bismarck, the Capitol of North Dakota, it naturally became the place to hash out political policy and make plans, seeing that both Alexander McKenzie and Ed Patterson were movers and shakers in North Dakota Politics. McKenzie had a grand suite, and he used it as the place for their individual political pow wows, sometimes with an old political friend, Governor William Langer, who got in some hot water with the Federal Government who tried to charge him with illegal alcohol trafficking.
The Patterson Hotel continued to be a place where politicians held their important event and groups. For example, The Patterson Hotel was also home to the political think tank and activist group, The Unpartisan League.
In 1931, when the State Capitol suffered destruction, The Patterson Hotel became the home of the State Capitol offices and meetings.
To avoid paying income taxes, Ed Patterson continuously built onto the original seven stories. City rules had declared that income taxes couldn’t be collected on a structure until its final completion. Patterson thought of all sorts of additions to bring in more guests and boast the income from events.
Some of the additions include a 1913, two story addition built on the west elevation of the hotel, a 1920 rooftop garden, that was made bigger in 1921 so a larger dance floor could be added, plus, an inclosed dinning room. In 1924, the eighth and ninth floors were begun, and finished in 1931. A tenth floor was added, to make a home for the Sky Room and Tip Top Lounge.
In 1933, the Patterson Hotel opened up another eatery, the Peacock Alley Bar and Grill on the first floor of the two story addition. The Elaborate scroll decoration around the door area inspired this name.
Of course, like many other hotels and inns during Prohibition, The Patterson Hotel offered the full Mob sports package of illegal alcohol, gambling and prostitutes. Like many other hotels, there was a tunnel under the street to the train depot across from the hotel.
While the local police may have been paid to look the other way, there was the Federal authorities who tried to shut down speakeasies. Unlike other hotels, The Patterson Hotel installed an electric alarm system to warn against Federal raids and other unwanted people. They were never caught with “the goods”.
Throughout the years, many famous people stayed here; from boxers Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, and Joe Louis to Presidents, including: Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson.
A lot of the traffic that The Patterson Hotel and other Bismarck businesses depended on economically for years traveled through town on Route 10. In 1965, most of this source of income switched to using the new Interstate 94, that was built in the northern part of the state. Uh Oh!
By 1970, The Patterson Hotel stopped being a hotel and depended on its restaurant and bar to sustain it, which doesn’t usually work. In 1976, The Patterson Hotel was placed on the Historical Register of Historic Places which probably saved it from being torn down when the whole structure was condemned in 1980.
Funds were found to renovate the building, and repurposing the old hotel rooms for senior citizens. The Patterson Hotel became Patterson Place. The Peacock Alley Bar and Grill were moved into the first floor of the Former Patterson Hotel for the public to still enjoy.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Employees, chefs or managers/owners of a bar or restaurant sometimes have a hard time giving up their much beloved occupation, and continue on in their work, not letting the fact that they are dead stop them. They try to help the current staff.
It seems that a few spirits have been trying to “help” the living in the bar, grill and the kitchen as well.
People who enjoyed their experiences they had in their lifetime at a particular place in this world, sometimes like to come back and try to remember and even enjoy them once again.
Apparently, parties are still going strong on the 8th floor.
People while alive who enjoyed the thrill of spirited discussions that took place at this known political hubbub, The Patterson Hotel, came back in spirit form and continued their discussions with former opponents, also in spirit form. When their area became home to the old, they moved elsewhere in the building.
The Rooms of The Patterson Hotel
Before the Patterson Place Apartments were created out of the hotel rooms, guests who stayed in the hotel rooms complained about loud voices in a heated discussion that came from various rooms near their room and the volume was keeping them awake, especially from McKenzie’s end suite.
The sounds of party goers and big band music coming from the 8th floor, can still be heard by people living on the seventh floor. This is probably residual energy, but maybe not!
The Bar area of the Peacock Alley Grill
The entity of a former employee of the Peacock Alley Grill and Bar, or the old lobby of The Patterson Hotel.
When the closed bar is quiet and still, and all the glasses are in the rack over the Bartender’s work station, some industrious soul tries to be helpful, by taking clean glasses down from the rack and puting them on the bar and on some of the tables.
Occurrences happen when the restaurant is closed, dark and quiet.
An entity rearranges the silverware on the tables.
This entity apparently doesn’t like the restaurant’s classy habit of arranging the folded cloth napkins in the water glasses that are placed on the restaurant tables. The opening staff always find the napkins laying flat on the tables when they open for business.
During Business Hours
Presently, male voices in discussion have been heard, when the restaurant is empty but still open. It is thought that they really have fun debating when the living are not there, and the place is dark and quiet.
A waitress was touched by a cool hand while waiting for an order.
Other waiters and waitresses have also reported cold spots lingering about, during their work shift.
The Restaurant Kitchen
Someone in spirit form likes to rearrange the pots, and borrows a knife once and a while, but always returns it; perhaps a former chef.
Most Probably so. The activity that has been noticed in the dining room and bar still occurs.
However, after the renovation of the rooms, the political enthusiasts in spirit form, not wanting to disturb the new residents, have come down from the hotel rooms to the Peacock Alley Bar and Grill to hang out and have their political discussions. The wonderful, historic decor of the Peacock Alley Bar and Grill makes them feel at home. Perhaps the wine glasses were taken down for them by a former bartender in spirit, for their late night/early morning discussions!
Apparently, it is hard to dissuade hard-core party goers, who have found some vacant space on the 8th floor to continue on, dancing away. Or, this could be residual energy that was absorbed by the walls of the 8th floor dance area.
The personal experiences of former guests, residents of the building, and patrons, staff, employees and managers of the restaurant and bar have reported the above occurrences. I couldn’t find results of any paranormal investigations done here.
422 E. Main Ave,
This grand, historically rich, ten story building can be found in the heart of historic downtown Bismarck, at the corner of 5th and Main Avenue; “with a frontage of 75 feet on Main Avenue and 150 feet on Fifth Street.”
- Spooky Creepy North Dakota, by Lori L. Orser, Schiffer Publishing, Inc., 2010
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr