Baker City Oregon
Geiser Grand Hotel
“The fabulous thing about our ghosts is they really don’t frighten anybody.
They just want to have fun.”— Barbara Sidway/Bend City Article
Spirits include: an upset accident victim, a murder victim and his honey,
a snack-loving former owner, and party animals!
It is described as being an Italian Renaissance Revival building, with a 4 story clock tower, capped by a pointed roof, and an impressive two hundred foot corner cupola. Tom and I visited the Geiser Grand Hotel on a road trip, and it really is quite stunning! The grand transformation of this historic hotel from being a severe fixer-upper opportunity into its original 1889 glory, thanks to the boatload of money invested, shows that it all was well worth it.
Miraculously, a lot of the artistic treasures made especially for this grand old hotel remained in tact, and not scavenged by opportunists. In the lobby and dining area, for instance, the visitor notices the glorious wood columns and walls, crystal chandeliers, marble flooring, gorgeous woodwork on the grand staircase and other places, with a stained-glass ceiling, just above PALM COURT dining area. The stained-glass ceiling is a replica of the original that didn’t quite make it through the 25 year abandonment era.
Plenty of hard work was done to renovate, repair and restore this historic hotel. The clock tower was repaired and partially rebuilt, and bricks were replaced on the structure where they had fallen out. A brand new roof, water damage repair throughout the hotel, replacement of dry rot, beastie cleanup, and other renovations, restorations and revisions had to be done. When this momentous project was completed, The Geiser Grand was honored with The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s coveted Honor Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.
“We are proud to continue the tradition of pampering guests that began when the Geiser Grand Hotel first opened in 1889.” — Barbara G. Sidway, Owner/Operator
Some of the restored rooms, are quite elegant, and some even offer a lovely view of the town and snow-capped mountains, such as The Cupola Suite.
The magnificent Cupola Suite is located underneath the Clock tower and cupola. This suite is almost like an apartment, with a large living room, dining/game room, a King bed with an armoire and TV combination. The suite also offers a stunning, large bath with all the bells and whistles. The suite is furnished with antiques, comfortable chairs, gilt mirrors, and crystal chandeliers.
There are several lovely event venue and business dinner spaces as well located within: The Wine Cellar, The Library, The Old Dining Room, The Palm Court and the Bonanza Room. These rental spaces help to bring in more money to the coffers.
Baker City was settled during the Civil War, being an attractive area for ranching and farming. Baker City became a huge draw for mining entrepreneurs, after gold was discovered in the area. When the railroad was built to its doorstep in the 1880s, Baker City grew in leaps and bounds, building quality buildings from bricks and mined volcanic tuff. Baker City was nick-named the “Queen City of the Mines,” as it became the place to spend your money on wine, women, song and luxuries; to live and enjoy new found wealth.
The Geiser Grand Hotel was built in 1889 as a luxurious, high class hotel, because of the influx of folks with plenty of money; mine investors/owners who had made their fortune in gold mining investments. It had the reputation of being “The finest hotel between Portland and Salt Lake City,” that had the best expensive decor, with no expense spared. Their goal as a hotel was to provide for the comfort and entertainment for the newly rich, and others of means. Besides these newly rich people, the old money folks, including cattle barons, ranchers, politicians and world travelers all discovered The Geiser Grand Hotel, and were loyal guests of this regal establishment. All enjoyed the luxury and amenities that could be found at The Geiser Grand.
Prostitute service was also an amenity offered. In the basement area, known as the wine cellar, one can still see the large window-like doors that once opened up to underground passageways, so gentlemen could enter discreetly without being seen by other members of proper, moral society. The sensual, carnal pleasure sessions with the women were upstairs in the third floor rooms, in relative comfort; No drafty crib, but a comfortable bed! This brothel continued on through Prohibition, probably up to the 1940s, or until authorities became serious in stopping this oldest profession.
When mining played itself out around 1910, ranchers, businessmen and world travelers still kept the economy going in Baker City, as well as The Geiser Grand Hotel. Up until the 1940s, it was the place to party hardy, complete with a high rollers gambling hall, black market booze during Prohibition, besides having a brothel. Sounds like it may have had some mob involvement, as the black market alcohol in many fine establishments mostly came from mob suppliers.
It was transformed at some point into a veteran’s hospital, as many of the grand hotels temporarily became hospitals for wounded soldiers during WW2. Sometime after WW2, the hotel returned and once again opened for business, but her luster was slipping away. Needless to say, the structure became an extreme fixer-upper opportunity over the years, requiring some expensive TLC, as the building wasn’t repaired when needs did arise to the level that would stop its decline.
The trouble with high-end luxury structures, is that keeping them in great form is an expensive drain on the pocketbook.
By 1968, The Geiser Grand Hotel structure badly needed restoration/renovation, in order to become a viable commercial property once again. The boatload of investment money that such a grand project would need didn’t have any takers, and it was declared too far gone to save by many. The thinking was that at some point, it should be torn down for a parking lot. Doing so, would cost a bundle too. So, after the cast from the film, “Paint Your Wagon” left after film production was done, the building was boarded up, and abandoned for 25 years, becoming home to three owls, two foxes and over a hundred pigeons. YIKES!!!!
Finally, a couple with a love and respect for classic, historical buildings, and a willingness to invest/raise the money, came along and saved the building, in the 1990s. After looking at this pathetic, woe-be-gone fixer-upper, with little workable roof, that was three steps ahead of the wrecking ball, Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Sidway, historical preservationists with plenty of experience, saw the possibilities, and rescued it from its then current use as an animal sanctuary.
After investing 7 million dollars and 4 years of pain-staking hard work to bring The Geiser Grand Hotel back to its glory days, with 30 rooms that have all the modern amenities, Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Sidway opened it up for business again in 1998; much to the enjoyment of a new clientele, and apparently to the past, long dead owners/guests/employees of all kinds as well.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Buildings used as old hospitals, a place of death for some, often have entities who died there, staying on in their after-life.
Restoration of formerly fixer-upper opportunities can act as a giant environmental trigger, drawing spirits who loved the original building back into this world to relive memories, supervise, encourage the living, and enjoy the renewed surroundings along with the living; sometimes actually doing what they did when they were alive.
Apparitions started to roam around the hotel during the big restoration; so happy that their beloved hotel was being restored.
Stupid, unexpected deaths can cause a restlessness and frustration in the victim of the mishap that took his or her life, not letting the entity move on. Many such victims had other things to do, goals to make, and weren’t ready to go to the next world yet.
A chef that worked at the Geiser Grand, lost his head when a dumbwaiter slammed down on his head without warning.
“The fabulous thing about our ghosts is they really don’t frighten anybody. They just want to have fun.” — Barbara Sidway, Bend City Article
In 1997, some apparitions started to roam around the hotel and show themselves to the living, perhaps in need of attention and recognition, as well as out of joy in the restored hotel. They have been reported as being playful, willing to share the hotel for the most part.
A rather big construction worker was spooked considerably when a dozen apparitions of spirit people joined him in the elevator, perhaps wanting to give him some friendly support, or perhaps were just curious as to what was to happen next.
The entity of a young girl
She has been seen and experienced in the hotel’s basement and on the third floor as well. She probably travels all around the hotel.
A female entity from the 1930s
Described in one source as being friendly, dressed in a violet, vintage dress from the 1930s era.
The entity of a 1920s saloon dancer
She appears from the waist up, dressed in a red corset, and a hat with a tall peacock feather.
The male entity of a former chef, who lost his head, hangs out in the kitchen.
One Japanese film crew caught a weird light floating around the kitchen.
He appears on occasion dressed as a chef, but with no visible head.
This unfortunate victim apparently is still a little hot under the collar about his preventable death.
This entity slams doors, and throws pots and pans, perhaps still mad about the stupid way he died.
His coup d’é tat was levitating a big crate of glasses, floating it through the air, and letting it crash to the floor. This event was witnessed by a living chef on staff.
An unknown male entity
This murder victim may be the cowboy who was the boyfriend of another female spirit who is said to have killed herself because of his death.
This cowboy doesn’t appear to be angry, but likes to stay around at the Geiser Grand Hotel.
This cowboy was shot with a gun in the Geiser Grand Hotel, perhaps during the early days, probably at the gaming table. (He did get justice for his own death, as the culprit was caught, tried and convicted in a court of law, becoming Baker City’s first murder conviction.)
His girlfriend is also seen at The Geiser Grand.
This female entity, called “The Lady in Blue”
is described as a woman with dark-hair, wearing a flowing blue Victorian dress.
She has floated up and down the grand staircase in front of the astonished living.
Female Entities of 1920s Flappers and party goers
The balcony above the Palm Court Dining Room is a hot spot for spirits.
This jovial set have been seen in the balcony, looking over the second floor banister, under the skylight, people watching.
The Rain Room – Also has a spirit!
Guests who stay in this room, share it with a spirit who likes to take a shower, though the spirit patiently waits for the paying guests to go to bed. Then, guests hear the shower turning on, and splashing, like someone is also bathing.
The Train Room
Guests hear the sound of a train roaring by the bed.
Room 302 – considered a very active room for paranormal activity.
The entity of former owner Maybelle Geiser, lived in Room 302 beneath the clock tower.
She admires guests’ jewelry, and likes to touch it and rearrange it.
She apparently gets hungry and has been known to take the complementary snacks left for the guests.
She makes her presence known by appearing occasionally, and by knocking on the outside wall.
While Maybelle Geiser was alive, she had her own chair reserved in the downstairs bar. For a period of time after she had died, anyone who dared to sit in her spot was pinched by cold fingers. Since the bar reopened, she may have mellowed a bit, and doesn’t do this anymore, or perhaps there is no chair placed where she used to sit.
Either a male or female entity apparently loves Budweiser beer. Bartenders discover that the Budweiser Tap has been opened, with beer foaming out on a regular schedule, despite making sure it was sealed off. (General Wayne Inn)
While every area of the hotel is considered a hot spot, one of the most haunted rooms is 203.
Many auditory sounds of the paranormal kind happen on a regular basis.
It seems the room right above Room 203 is a party-time place for loud, spirit people, whooping it up, playing music, etc.
Owner Barbara heard people having a great time at an unscheduled event, where the living aren’t invited, and and felt the vibration of music in this area, by putting her ear to the wall.
A huge YES INDEED! Paranormal Groups, such as the International Paranormal Reporting Group hold regular paranormal tours and “ghost hunts” and classes at the Geiser Grand Hotel, and participants have a blast doing so. On Nov. 2-4, 2012, the Geiser hosted its third annual Paranormal Weekend with investigators from all over Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Many paranormal groups are drawn to The Geiser Grand Hotel. While published evidence on line is hard to find, many people from construction workers, paranormal investigators, to the owners, and their guests and staff have had personal experiences through the senses. They have seen, heard, been touched or pinched by entities who like to play, while enjoying the revitalized Geiser Grand.
1996 Main Street
Baker City, OR
The Geiser Grand Hotel is located in the heart of historical downtown Baker City.
- Ghost Hunter’s Guide
by Rich Newman
- Coast to Coast Ghosts
by Leslie Rule
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr