Haunted Lodgings: Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore

Contrary to the popular movie remake of 3:10 to Yuma, the City of Bisbee is not flat at all. Rather, it’s a mining city built on the side of a mountain chain. The city itself is overrun with stairs, tiers of buildings built at the base of hilltops or on the tops of hills and narrow, winding streets, some of which are not even wide enough for cars to traverse. The Bisbee Inn, also called the Hotel LaMore, is perched atop Chihuahua Hill (also called “B” Hill) at 45 OK Street where it overlooks the Copper Queen Hotel in the district of Old Bisbee. The hotel boasts a lengthy past as a lodging for miners and that past has given the place enough time to build a reputation of hauntings.

Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore

This part of southern Arizona was part of the 1853 Gadsden Purchase. The current Hotel Bisbee sits on Lots 11 and 12 of Block One, land which was deeded to the City of Bisbee by the United States Government in 1904. A year later, J.P. Hill bought the land. On the site, he built two wooden buildings which served as furnished lodgings for miners. A 1915 fire destroyed these buildings and, in 1916, the land was sold to Mrs. S.P. Bedford who constructed and furnished the Hotel LaMore, a twenty-four room brick lodging, over the foundations of the previous buildings.

On October 1, 1917, Mrs. Bedford leased the hotel to Mrs. Kate LaMore for $160 a month. Mrs. LaMore leased the rooms for $2 per day or $8 per week, billing her lodgings as “the most modern in Bisbee.” In the early 1920’s, Mrs. LaMore’s lease expired and Mrs. Bedford ran the hotel, using the LaMore name, until 1925 when the hotel exchanged hands. In 1936 it was sold again to Grace V. Waters, who changed the hotel name to the Waters Hotel. The name change was the beginning of a series of changes made to the hotel.

The building was converted into two-room apartments in the 1940’s. In the 1960’s, it served as a volunteer training center for the Peace Corps. Period carpeting, antique furniture and early photos of the area were added to the hotel during a 1966 renovation. The final change to the hotel was in 1982, when it underwent Certified Historic Restoration. It emerged from restoration as the Bisbee Inn. Owners Al and Elissa Strati sold the hotel in 2003 to Moses and Brena Mercer.

Room 11 at the Bisbee Inn

The door to Room 11 at the Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore.

The current Bisbee Inn is a charming establishment with cozy rooms and antique furniture. It offers continental breakfast and a great view of Old Bisbee. From time to time, it also affords guests a glimpse into the paranormal.

Room 11 has a non-corporeal guest who is fixated with the water closet. This ghost guest is known for rummaging through toiletries, tossing them about and even opening things like toothpaste to check the contents. Occasionally, the ghost will also slam the bathroom door shut. (I guess, when you gotta go, you gotta go!)

The middle European room, Room 15, is the home of a rather exhausted spirit. This ghost is known for climbing into bed with guests. Startled by their unknown visitor, guests climb out of bed to see if they can ascertain what woke them. While no one has ever actually seen this ghost, some guests have seen the indentation of a body on the mattress. Could this be the ghost of a miner who, after a hard day of work, just wants to rest?

Staircase in Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore

This second floor staircase leads to the back alley outside the Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore. Guests have reported seeing the ghost of a handsome miner on these stairs.

Since the hotel did serve as lodging in a mining boom town, it’s not surprising to think that many of the men who worked in the mines stayed in this establishment. It’s even logical to assume that some of those very same miners might be the source of some of the unexplainable events that happen in the hotel.

While the ghosts in Room 11 and Room 15 have never actually been seen, there is one specter who has been seen on the second floor steps that lead to the alley behind the Bisbee Inn. Those who see this fellow on the second floor stairs always describe him the same– He’s a handsome devil who wears his hair long and sports a vest and jeans, which he tucks into his boots. He has never been seen anywhere else but on these stairs, and his connection to the building (aside from the theory that he is a miner) is unknown.

Less frequently seen is the ghost of a miner who has been spotted outside the Bisbee Inn. This ghost wears mining attire of coveralls and boots. He carries a pick axe or a shovel over one shoulder as he begins the arduous climb down the steps beside the Bisbee Inn to make his way “home” from his daily work in the mines. His ghost isn’t the only ghost to haunt the outside of the Bisbee Inn.

Staircase Beside Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore

A photo of the staircase beside the hotel where the ghost of a miner has been infrequently seen. Up the stairs and to the left is where the ghost of a Woman in White stopped three boys from being crushed by a rock slide.

At the top of that same staircase, the sidewalk branches in two directions. One goes up to the right. The other path takes you to the left, behind the Bisbee Inn– this is where the hotel’s second floor staircase exits the building. The alley behind the inn is narrow and poorly lit at night. Bisbee Inn’s most active ghost has been seen in the alley, where she saved the lives of three young boys.

Renee Gardner’s book “Southern Arizona’s Most Haunted” describes the heroic actions of this ghost as follows:

… The three boys got out of a movie show at the Lyric Theater and were running home because it was raining when the show let out. They ran up OK Street, up the steps next to the Bisbee Inn, and turned left, down the back alleyway. When they turned the corner, the Lady in White walked through the back door and outstretched her arm. She put her hand out in the STOP position. The boys got so frightened they turned around and started to run back down the steps. At that moment a rockslide occurred from the hill above. The boys believe that the Lady in White saved their lives that day. Repairs made to the wall after the rockslide can still be seen to this day.

Lady In White Alley

The alley behind the Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore where a ghostly lady in white scared away three young boys just before a rock slide collapsed the alley.

The Lady in White has long and flowing white hair, and is described as wearing a white gown. The smell of lilacs has been linked to the presence of this ghost. Those who have seen this apparition describe her as angelic and watchful. Her heroic actions saving the boys demonstrate her protective nature as benevolent matron of the Bisbee Inn. This innocuous ghost is most active in Room 7 and Room 12, though she has been seen and felt in other areas throughout the hotel.

By far the most popular ghost at the Bisbee Inn is that of a ghost cat. The ghost cat haunts Room 23 of the hotel, which is a second story corner room with a view that overlooks OK Street. You’ll find Room 23 between Room 12 and Room 14. (Photos inside the rooms can be found at the Bisbee Inn’s website.) The ghost cat who haunts Room 23 never actually lived in the Bisbee Inn, but there’s a story that explains the presence of this kitty in the Hotel.

Owners of the Bisbee Inn also owned the property next door, which used to function as a saloon. There was a stray calico cat in the area and, during the winter, the cat would try to sneak into the warm hotel. The owner would catch the cat and shoo it outside. Though its presence was unwelcome inside the hotel, the owner was indifferent about the cat hanging around the saloon. Tragically, the cat managed to find its way into the saloon’s storage room. Locked inside the storage without food or water and without knowledge of the owner, the sneaky animal passed away from starvation.

Door to Room 23 at the Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore

Door to Room 23 at the Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore.

In the wake of the feline’s untimely demise, stories about a mysterious cat in Room 23 began to emerge. Hotel patrons started reporting the presence of a ghost cat who would climb onto the bed and curl up at the foot of the bed, some guests even claimed to feel the cat purring contentedly. Perceptive children staying in the room have tried to point out a beautiful calico cat to their parents, who see nothing. Other guests have reported hearing cat footsteps. Curious patrons trying to locate the cat always come up empty-handed. There have even been reports of a cat scratching at the window. The ghost cat has also been seen in various places downstairs, but those sightings are infrequent as it seems to prefer Room 23.

The Bisbee Inn is a charming hotel. It’s centrally located in Old Bisbee, which affords guests the luxury of being within walking distance of the many amenities which Old Bisbee has to offer. While the hotel is reputedly haunted, the ghosts which frequent this establishment are all friendly. While not every guest experiences something strange during their stay, many find the hotel to be a cozy place to spend the night.

For more information on the Bisbee Inn / Hotel LaMore, visit the hotel’s official website: http://bisbeeinn.com/

Sources:
* http://bisbeeinn.com/pages/history.htm
* Gardner, Renee. “Southern Arizona’s Most Haunted”. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffler Publishing Ltd., 2010. pp 98-105.

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7 thoughts on “Haunted Lodgings: Bisbee Inn/Hotel LaMore

  1. We have spent the night in this hotel and can tell you that there is alot of activity here. The cat is said to prefer room 23 but, slept in our room with us. First curled up with me, then on the legs of our sons friend. We heard voices downstairs although we were the only guest of the hotel that night. Our room would get a floral scent and we woke up to the aroma of toast, there was no one in the kitchen area. There is a very electric feeling in the room we stayed in and I was visited by a female presence during the night, she was very insistent that I listen to her. Her presence was so strong in the room that she woke my husband as well and the boys were doing flip-flops in the bed next to us. An experience we will never forget!

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    • Wow! Sounds like it was quite an experience. Do you remember which room it was that you stayed in?

      I love hearing personal stories, so thank you for taking time to post yours. =)

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      • Yes, we stayed on the second floor in room 6. What really stood out to us was that the entire hotel was available when I booked the room online, I normally would have chosen room 5. We were there for a youth football game and my son’s number is 5. It’s his lucky number. I have no idea what made me change the room number right before I made the reservation. This truly was an experience none of us will ever forget, we talk about it often.

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  2. My wife and I are staying at the Bisbee Inn as I type. I was hoping for some type of paranormal activity, but so far (it’s 2:00am right now) we haven’t experienced anything. BTW, we are in room #3.

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    • While I am personally on the fence about the existence of ghosts, I do believe that it’s not something everyone will experience all the time. Even at a place that’s become famous for its hauntings. The only time I think there’s a guarantee of appearance is with the type of haunting where the same action is performed over and over like a replay of a video. Hope you’ve enjoyed your stay nonetheless!

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  3. I stayed in room 11 last weekend and I heard the cat walk down the hallway! I was standing next to the bed right next to a vent that opens to the hallway. I heard a distinct ‘meow’ just as you would hear from any cat. I dashed into the hallway and saw nothing! Check the place out, the owners are very friendly people and the whole town is a great experience!

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