Famous Haunted Places: The Brookdale Lodge
by Christine B.
When people in California think of a haunted hotel, the first thing that comes to mind is The Brookdale Lodge. Named for the actual brook that runs through the center of the lodge, and nestled within the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Brookdale Lodge was once a popular retreat after it opened in 1900. The lodge was the second most popular resort and campgrounds in California in its heyday. Many celebrities from Hollywood, foreign diplomats and politicians, (including US President, Herbert Hoover), and other famous people from around the world visited there. The Lodge also offered first rate entertainment enticing big band enthusiasts. It was owned by and then passed on to quite a few prominent businessmen during its lifetime.
In the 40’s and 50’s the lodge became host to many gangsters and other unsavory characters. Secret passageways and hidden rooms were built throughout the lodge, and there were rumors of bodies being buried under the floors. It was during this time that the niece of the then owner drowned in the dining room creek. Her spirit was often seen throughout the hotel afterwards. Some visitors and employees not only saw Sara walking through the lobby, near the fireplace or on the balcony of the Brookroom, but they had actually been approached by the young spirit asking for their help to find her mother.
In 1972 a 13 year old girl drowned in the pool that had been built above the Mermaid Room. This spirit still plays in that area of the lodge. Visitors have reported hearing phantom voices, glasses clinking together, and also hearing soft music playing even when the room is empty of guests. The Mermaid Room jukebox has been heard turning itself on and off when no one is near it, as well.
The Brookroom is also a very haunted area. The clatter of glasses and plates being moved around, dozens of phantom people in conversation, and the general commotion of a busy dining room, while no live guests were there was also heard on a regular basis.
Another spirit apparition sheen at the Lodge is that of a young woman walking over the creek supported by what looks like a bridge that is no longer there in the center of the Brookroom. Could this be Sarah’s mother, searching for her child? The smell of gardenias sometimes accompanies this woman’s appearance, although there are no gardenias in that room.
Big band music has been heard in the Fireside and the Pool rooms. These rooms also have other manifestations like, cold spots, the feeling of unseen presences, and visitors being touched—and the haunted activity list goes on . . . doors slam on their own, footsteps are heard coming from empty rooms, strange smells coming from unseen sources, a lumberjack named George appears.
Room 46 of the newer wing added in the 1970’s also has a great deal of activity. Ghosts materialize around the bed, objects and unexplained shapes fly across the room, unseen entities sit on the edge of the bed, and visitors there have been touched by unseen hands.
Former employees report being pushed so hard that they fall on their faces, so it was difficult to keep staff. There are reportedly 49 spirits still in residence at the lodge… enough perhaps to convince the owners to shut it down. It is no longer open for business, but that doesn’t mean that it might not reopen eventually.