From February 28th through March 4th a couple of weeks ago, I got to stay in what is considered one of the most haunted hotels for a horror writers convention. That’s the Biltmore Hotel at 11 Dorrance Street in Providence, Rhode Island (Lovecraft Country). That I had a couple of experiences, paranormal activity wise, just added to my enjoyment.
The first one happened Wednesday night, I brought my flashlight that can change from white LED to green LED to red laser dot, I set it to the green light, and used it when I needed to go to the bathroom. This way, I wouldn’t bother my two roommates and wake them up, or trip in the dark if I didn’t turn on the light. While I was in the restroom, the green light flickered. I peered at it closer, and it began to grow smaller and small, ready to go out. I said, “Really? You’re going to suck the batteries’ life,” shook the flashlight, and it came back on, so I managed to get back to bed, thinking I might have to replace the batteries in it. But the rest of the weekend, it remained strong when switched on. The second thing that happened to me was Friday night. Dead tired after seeing the mini horror films and enjoying the reception afterwards, Dee and I decided to go to bed and not go to the Monster Mashup. Our other roomie, Cat, did go. Dee put her headshot connected to her radio and fell asleep. I didn’t. It was while I lay in bed in the very quiet room, between Dee’s and my bed in the bedroom a loud whistle like someone blowing from their lips sounded in the air. I turned on the light by me and asked Dee if that was her, but she just snored lightly only. The next day she said maybe her radio, but I did as best as I could an imitation pf the whistle and she said, “No, it doesn’t do that.” I wondered why the whistle, but again who knows why? I also admit earlier on Friday night, when Dee and Cat went down to outside for Dee to smoke, I was alone and suddenly felt I was not alone. I just kept my eyes closed and finally the roomies returned.
I do know my streaming laptop wouldn't come up, no matter how long I charged it up. Funny thing, back to normal once home. Was it paranormal. or maybe just the Internet which was sort of wonky (not paranormal) or even the electricity? I'd brought my ghost box which wouldn't come up at all, but it was okay once home. But my EMF meter came on. Who knows why for all that. Our room was 830.
Strange, but with possible explanations were the elevators stopping and opening and no one on the floor (these were the floors with rooms only). Some people mentioning odd noises in the hallways and no one else out there, or in their rooms.
I did used my pendulum Saturday afternoon since my ghost box didn’t come on. It said yes to being female, there since the 20s, and causing my light to start dying, plus my laptop. Still rather have done my ghost box, but maybe it did answer me with the pendulum.
It would have been interesting to find out of HP Lovecraft has ever stepped into the hotel, or if his spirit has been seen there. After all, Providence was his stomping grounds and he would have been alive when it first was built and people stayed there.
History of the Biltmore
The Providence Biltmore Hotel is a historic landmark built in 1922. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Today, there are about 300 rooms and 2 ballrooms. It has 18 floors.
"Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye" was all the rage when 12-hundred guests gathered at the hotel for an opening night ball on June 6, 1922. The brick edifice was brilliantly lit and decorated with sprays of roses and carnations, the Providence News reported. Guests gorged themselves on a ten-course meal that included two seafood and two meat dishes. Then-Providence Mayor Joseph Gainer said the lack of a modern hotel had been holding the city back.
The hotel went on to fulfill its promise, becoming a social gathering point for Rhode Islanders and a destination for a host of celebrities, including President John Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, actress Audrey Hepburn, boxer Rocky Marciano and a young senator named Joe Biden. Even the dance floor was once converted into a swimming pool for Esther Williams and a skating rink for Sonja Henie. In the early years, the chef grew vegetables and raised roosting hens on the roof of the hotel so that celebrities like Benny Goodman could have fresh eggs. (Ah, here are those ‘chickens’ people claimed raised for Satanists I will mention later in this post.).
The hotel has also had its share of hard times. During the 1938 hurricane water filled the first floor. Hurricane Carol inundated it again in 1954.
By 1975 the Biltmore closed after its owner was unable to make a gas payment. Of course, it reopened, otherwise, Stokercon 2018 wouldn’t have been held there earlier this month. There are articles online that it was sold in October 2017 and will be part of a hotel chain in 2019.
There’s the glass elevator tacked onto the front of the Biltmore in the 1970's. It hasn't worked in years. They even have a cute sign attached to it that I took a picture.
The Ghosts and the Legends
There is supposedly a local legend suggests that hotel ran as a satanic paradise complete with animal sacrifices, murders, and so much more. That chickens were raised on the roof to become sacrifices for these Satanic ceremonies. Others say that the hotel housed vibrant parties run by the mob during prohibition (which Rhode Island rebelled against). During these parties it is believed that many murders occurred filling the hotel with ghosts of those slain inside. Now, these I take with a grain of salt, as didn’t find that on ghost books of Rhode Island, and the chapters on Biltmore do not mention this.
One of the main ghosts to occupy the hotel is a financier who lost all of his money in the Depression in 1929. He was staying in a room on the 14th floor when he received the news that he was effectively broke and was so overwhelmed by it that he threw himself out of the window. His ghost doesn’t just haunt the room in which he was staying but seems to enjoy wandering through all the rooms he passed during his fall. Guests staying in these rooms have reported seeing someone fall past the window but never a body on the street when they rush over to look.
Other ghosts are believed to be the spirits of those murdered in the hotel during the 1920s and 1930s. Raucous parties are heard as well as laughter and people are seen dancing – none of whom are present.
A former event planner at the Biltmore tells "intuitive medium" Pam Patalano who relays the story to NBC 10's R.J. Heim that she saw ghosts dancing in the empty ballroom during the middle of the night on numerous occasions.
The Director of Marketing at the Biltmore, Pamela Baldwin, says some guests have told her that they have seen, heard and felt things during their visits, although she hasn’t had any first-hand experiences.
If you search "paranormal activity at the Biltmore" online, you will find plenty of stories. Pam Patalano says, “25% would be accurate and real. The rest would be just fake, or you could debunk it, or chalk it up to something else.” But it's that 25% she finds fascinating.
Another story I found concerned a guest who stayed at this hotel. Her partner and she were asleep when the woman woke to something like a dog, walking back and forth on her pillow. She tried to wake her partner who was in a deep sleep. The next morning, the partner admitted to having the same thing that happened, but afraid to say anything. Another story is about the 3rd floor of the Biltmore Hotel that has claims by guests is that it is haunted by the sounds of children at play.
And after checking out the cool architecture of Providence, Rhode Island, check out the other ghostly hauntings and legends of this spooky state in New England.
Thirteen Spooky Rhode Island Hauntings and Legends
1) Drink At Your Own Risk: Legend has it if you drink from the fountain outside the Providence Athenaeum you may leave Rhode Island but are guaranteed to always return. Since the fountain is from 1873, it is not in the best condition and we recommend you don't test this legend out or you may never return to life itself.
Also, look out for Edgar Allen Poe's ghost at the Athenaeum, as many locals claim he still visits there.
2) Rhody's Most Famous Vampire: Exeter resident, Mercy Brown who died of tuberculosis in the 1890s was said to be a vampire because her body (allegedly) never decomposed and her hair and nails (reputedly) never stopped growing.
3) A Bewitching Drive: The Witch Tree located in the middle of the intersection of Log and Mann School Roads is said to be named after a witch that lived down the road. Many residents claim if you drive around the tree three times and head in a certain direction you will be followed by a phantom; no chance it's a cop.
4) Campus Hauntings: With four major colleges in Providence, there is no doubt there are some eerie places around the campuses. Brown's University Hall, RISD's Homer Hall, Providence College's Aquinas Hall, Johnson & Wales' Xavier Hall and URI fraternity house Lambda Chi Alpha are all rumored to be haunted.
5) The Scariest House Ever: Harrisville is home to the real farmhouse that inspired the recent hit film The Conjuring. The Perron family experienced some unnerving events that resulted in them moving out. The home is now occupied by folks who claim they have experienced the spook but not to the same extent.
6) The Haunting of Sprague Mansion: After a chilling murder took place at the Sprague Mansion in Cranston, paranormal acitvitiy such as lights flickering, cold gusts and phantom foot-steps have been reported more than once.
7) The Old Abandoned Mental Hospital Trick: The Ladd School in Exeter, an abandoned mental rehabilitation hospital with a not so pleasant past has locals and curious trespassers claiming they have heard disembodied moaning, crying and whispering. Ghosts and glowing orbs have been reported to wander the grounds. It was torn down in 2013, leaving Rhode Island without the haunted abandoned mental hospital that is required by New England's by-laws.
8) Watch Out for Children: Tower Hill Road in Cumberland is said to be a paranormal hot spot. Total strangers have reported the same sightings of a ghost boy and his dog, a little girl who lingers in the same spot and a toddler ghost on a tricycle.
9) Hello, Dolly: Foster is where Dolly Cole, an alleged witch, vampire and murdered prostitute haunts the dense forests where she was killed. Those who say they have encountered her ghost can barely speak of the experience.
10) Uninvited Guests at the Biltmore: In 2000, the Biltmore in Providence was named "America's Most Haunted Hotel" for good reason. With stories of murders, ghost encounters and visitors disappearing forever, this place will definitely have you shaking in your boots. (Which I blogged about in this article.)
11) The Devil Went Down to South County: Devil's Foot Rock in North Kingstown is said to be a spot that Satan himself visited as he was leaping around New England. He met a bride in Little Rhody whom he tried to bring back to his fiery abyss. During this process his hot hooves were imprinted into the granite.
12) The Mysterious Rune: The legend of the Narragansett Rune Stone is that it has a medieval inscription on it that only appears for 20 minutes each day at low tide. Real or hoax?
13) Make Yourself (Un)Comfortable: In the woods of Narragansett you will find the Witches' Altar and Druids Chair, a mysterious circle of stones around an altar-like stone. The druids chair is a curved stone placed off to the side of the circle. Use your imagination to come up with what could go on there.
BONUS: Even though the Red Headed Hitch Hiker of Route 44 is a legend of nearby Rehoboth, MA, we thought he was worthy of mentioning. Creepy stories have been told of the hitch hiker having a distorted face, bugged out eyes and creepy giggles.