MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) With Halloween just around the corner, this is your annual reminder that Minnesota is full of great haunts and a hotel in central Minnesota has been the subject of many paranormal investigations over the years.
In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen takes us to Palmer House in the Sauk Center, to take a closer look at the hotel’s “unregistered guests.”
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Every city in Minnesota has a main street, but not every main street has had a book written about it. Before becoming a Nobel Prize-winning author from the Sauk Center, Sinclair Lewis was a night clerk at the Palmer House Hotel and Restaurant.
“He was actually hired and fired several times before eventually graduating from high school and going on to college,” said owner Kelley Freese.
Is Lewis one of the spirits still living in the hotel?
“Well, we’ve seen,” Freese said.
And too many to count. Ralph Palmer built the hotel in 1901 after the Sauk Center Hotel burned down. It was one of the first companies outside the twin towns to have running water and electricity. For 120 years, weary travelers and tourists have come and gone. But these days, many of them are looking for a more lively stay.
“People will come from all over the world to explore and hope to have an experience,” Freese said.
Cathy Vanderhoff is a guide and paranormal researcher.
“This is Raymond’s room, and he’s one of our ‘unregistered guests,'” Vanderhoff said.
Raymond ran a brothel on the top floor a century ago. Today, it is believed that his ghost haunts a room on the top floor. On the other side of the hotel, a children’s playroom may be responsible for young hangouts. Some say Palmer’s son Carlisle is to blame. It is a common complaint among guests.
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“They might want to give you some acknowledgments and then add, ‘You know, someone lets their kids play in the hallway all night long.’ Then it’s when you have to tell them there were no children in the hotel, ”Freese said.
An employee reported having a conversation with a lady who looks like Palmer’s daughter Hazel before the woman simply disappeared. Among the believers in Palmer House paranormal is the lawyer who has become author Natalie Fowler.
“I do not think I have ever been here and not had a meeting,” Fowler said.
She has done much of her own historical research at the hotel. And although there have been no suspicious deaths, it appears that some guests have checked in and never really gone – at least not spiritually.
“You know these walls are trying to talk to you when you sit here,” Fowler said. “I’ve seen a dark shadow go back and forth over the doorway down in the basement.”
The basement is a place where light flickers for no reason. Some researchers consider a basement corridor to be the most haunted part of the hotel. In another room, a snowman decoration has been known to dance for guests, even when not connected.
From footsteps in the hallways to shadows in the foyer, there is a haunted story here. The staff embraces the spirits. They have to, because it does not look like they’re leaving right now.
“I always tell people they can choose what it is they want to call it,” Freese said. “I tell people that things happen here all the time that I can’t explain.”
Palmer House is on the National Register of Historic Places and it has just celebrated its 120th birthday.
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