Home Haunted America The Ghosts of Skid Row – Hotel Cecil

The Ghosts of Skid Row – Hotel Cecil

by Jennifer Jones
Hotel Cecil - The Dead History

When my boyfriend recently told me he had to go to Los Angeles for a quick business trip, and needed to be close to Skid Row, the first words out of my mouth were: YOU SHOULD STAY AT THE HOTEL CECIL!!!  At the time, however, I didn’t realize he thought I was serious, as any time I suggest a place to stay and get that excited about it, it’s usually a tip off that there is probably some paranormal or creepy connection. Next thing I knew he booked himself (and a couple of his co-workers) in a hotel in the midst of skid row that has quite a notorious past.  And then, I felt really bad! I tried to convince him to stay somewhere else, but it turns out that it’s right down the street from his client’s offices, and he was up for an adventure.

Hotel Cecil 1928 Ghosts of Skid Row The Dead History

Hotel Cecil – 1928

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Hotel Cecil, its most recent tragedy that made headline news around the world was the death of Elisa Lam, who’s body was found in the hotel’s water tower after she had been reported missing for five days.  According to American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, the elevator video of Elisa Lam that went viral shortly after her disappearance inspired the show’s most recent season, American Horror Story Hotel.((http://moviepilot.com/posts/3457829))

Hotel Cecil - The Dead History

But the Hotel Cecil had a notorious past long before 2013, in fact, it had only been open for a few years before deaths began occurring there. The hotel opened for business in 1925 and was advertised as a hotel catering to business travelers.

Hotel Cecil - The Dead History

After the stock market crash in 1929, the surrounding area began to decline and the hotel became a place inhabited by those who had fallen on tough times. The first reported suicide in the hotel occurred on November 17th, 1931.  A man by the name of W.K. Norton was found by a maid after swallowing some type of poison. The empty capsules were found next to his body. In 1932, a 25-year-old man shot and killed himself inside one of the hotel rooms, and on July 26th, 1934 Louis D. Borden was found dead, a suicide note next to his body.

Throughout the following years, the hotel continued to decline and become known as a place for those who were down on their luck with few options. In 1954, a 55-year-old woman named Helen C. Gurnee jumped out of one of the hotel windows and landed on the marquee.

Hotel Cecil - The Dead History

By 1962, the hotel had become known by locals as “The Suicide” ((https://www.kcet.org/departures-columns/the-suicide-the-hotel-cecil-and-the-mean-streets-of-las-notorious-skid-row)) when it started to make national news for the deaths that were occurring. On October 12th, 1962, after getting into an argument with her husband 27-year-old Pauline Otton jumped out of the window on the 9th floor.  She landed on 65-year-old George Giannini killing them both instantly. Later that year 50-year-old Julia Moore also committed suicide by jumping out of her window on the 8th floor.

Pauline Otton Hotel Cecil - The Dead History

Corvallis Gazette-Times (Corvallis, Oregon) · Sat, Oct 13, 1962

A couple of years later the hotel made news again with the murder of “Pigeon” Goldie Osgood.  Goldie lived at the hotel and was well known in the area for feeding the pigeons at nearby Pershing Square. She was found raped, stabbed, and strangled in her room on June 4th, 1964.  She was beloved by those who knew her, and unfortunately to this day, her murder has not been solved.

Hotel Cecil - The Dead History

The San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) · Sat, Jun 6, 1964

By the 1970’s and ’80’s skid row was well known as a dangerous area, infested with drugs and crime, and this is when the Hotel Cecil began to take on an even darker reputation. Richard Ramirez the infamous “Night Stalker” serial killer lived at the hotel while terrorizing the citizens of Los Angeles.

It is said that after committing his acts of terror he would enter the hotel through the back door, leaving his bloody clothes in the dumpster behind the hotel. While he was eventually caught and died in prison in 2013, he, unfortunately, was not the only serial killer to live at the hotel.

Hotel Cecil - The Dead History

In 1991, Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger lived at Hotel Cecil for a period of time while killing at least three local prostitutes. People who have researched his history say they believe he chose the hotel due to the Richard Ramirez connection. He was later arrested and committed suicide in prison in 1994.

It’s no wonder with this history that the hotel is said to be one of the most haunted places in Los Angeles. I couldn’t find any first-hand reports of paranormal activity, however, the claims I could find about the hotel is that full-bodied apparitions have been sighted and people have reported various unexplained noises.

My boyfriend had a completely uneventful stay at the hotel.  He said the hotel was clean, the lobby was beautiful, the staff was friendly, and for the most part his stay was quiet, except for the lady yelling in the street in the middle of the night. About 5 years ago the owners of the hotel put over $5 million into renovating most of the hotel; part of which included changing its name to Stay on Main to try and distance it from its past.

I think this is one of those locations that has witnessed so much tragedy through the years, there is a certain expectation for it to be haunted. Would you stay at the Hotel Cecil? Let me know in the comments below.

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