Monday, August 8, 2011

Haunted Hotel del Coronado

The Hotel del Coronado is a luxury resort across the bay from San Diego located on Coronado Island. This charming all wood Victorian hotel was built in 1888. In its day it was the largest resort hotel in the world. In 1977 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

This resort has hosted many famous people over the years. It was the playground for such stars as Tom Mix, Rudolph Valentino, and Charlie Chaplin. Several American presidents stayed at the Coronado: Harrison, McKinley. Taft, Wilson, and Nixon.

 It is said that Prince Edward of Wales first met Wallis Simpson in its ballroom in 1920. Later he abdicated the throne of England for her. The movie “Some Like It Hot” starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon, and Marilyn Monroe was filmed at the Coronado.

The paranormal activity in the Coronado is connected to one specific spirit. In life this ghost was a young woman named Kate Morgan, who met a tragic end at the hotel in 1892. Several stories as to why she haunts the hotel have been circulated over the years—each is more tragic than the last.

The main story is as follows—Kate Morgan was traveling by train with her husband Tom Morgan who was a card sharp. They were passing through Los Angeles when Kate told Tom she was pregnant. They quarreled and Tom got off the train agreeing to meet her in San Diego for Thanksgiving.

Kate checked into the Coronado on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, under the name Lottie A. Bernard, from Detroit. She was given Room 3312 (now Room 302). Tom never showed up. Kate waited for two days complaining of pains. It is speculated that she may have induced an abortion. Frantic she rode the ferry to San Diego, where she bought a .44-caliber gun. She then left a message for Tom at his hotel and returned to the Coronado.

The next day, Kate’s body was found dead near the steps of the hotel’s north entrance. It was discovered she had a bullet wound in her head.  Her hand held a gun that had one missing bullet. 

It is not known whether this was a suicide or a murder. The latter was favored when it was determined that the bullet in her head did not match the caliber of the bullets in the gun. The mystery deepened when it was discovered that a maid who had taken care of Kate was missing. She was never found. 

Many have speculated over the years that it must have been Tom who murdered Kate and possibly the maid as well. But there were no witnesses that could state that he had ever been on the island.

What is known is that Kate did stay in Room 3312 and her body was found on the steps. One version of the story has Kate discovering her boyfriend with another lover and then in shock she commits suicide. 

Another states that she was having an affair with a hotel executive who terminated their relationship. Most versions mention that she apparently self-aborted her baby while staying at the Coronado.

Regardless of the truth of this tragedy, one part of the story is constant—there is one ghost who resides at the Coronado. Her apparition has been seen by dozens of people since her death. 

She is most often spotted in what is now Room 302. She is described as a pretty brunet wearing a long black Victorian dress with a large ornate Victorian hat, she is also seen carrying a black parasol. She appears at the window in this room and guests who have slept in the room state they have felt cold spots and a presence in the room. 

Along with whispers, guests have heard gurgling sounds coming from the bathroom. Other guests have stated they have felt light-headed and dizzy while staying in Room 302.

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