23 North Leroux Street
The Coconino Sun once boasted that there was no finer hotel in the entirety of the Southwest. Only a short walk from both Route 66 and the train station, the Weatherford Hotel is not only an entertainment hub unto itself, but also located among many other great venues in historic Downtown Flagstaff.
It opened on New Year’s Day 1900, originally built and run by John W. Weatherford of Weatherford, Texas. From a modest general store to one of Flagstaff’s most iconic hotels, this premier destination also happens to be one of Flagstaff's most ghostly go-tos.
Based on the experiences of countless guests and employees, all signs point to yes.
Unfortunately, professional ghost hunters are discouraged from setting up their equipment on the premises, but that doesn’t mean the average visitor can’t snap a photo or make a recording.
Staff at the Weatherford are very receptive to the supernatural sights and sounds at the hotel. They gladly receive ghostly photos taken by guests and even offer a discount of ten percent off of dinners if visitors share their stories of paranormal encounters.
Now a storage and supply closet, Room 54 was once reserved by a couple on their honeymoon sometime in the 1930s.
One story goes that the man went hunting when a severe blizzard struck. Believing her husband to be dead, the woman hung herself in the room, only for the man to return shortly after to find his wife dead. He was so tortured with grief that he shot himself with his rifle.
Another version says the couple simply had a huge spat that resulted in the murder-suicide. Either way, their angry voices have been heard arguing from the storage closet, even despite it always being found empty.
Among the many spirits that haunt the notorious Weatherford, a murdered bootlegger is often heard walking up and down the steps in the basement. Additionally, a good little ghost girl named Matilda and a prankish little ghost boy named Alginon can be found down in the same basement, or so some employees have said.
In the Zane Grey Ballroom, people have seen a spirit gliding across the floor and disappearing into a wall. Some say it is the ghost of a young girl, while others swear it is a short and thin older woman.
One night, an employee tending the ballroom bar was finishing his shift when he noticed that the people in the old 1908 photograph on the wall were moving as fluidly as if they were in a movie. Hair standing on end, he finished his closing tasks as quickly as possible and left.
Fires plagued Flagstaff in 1897, prompting a city ordinance that all business buildings be brick, stone, or iron. One of these that went up in the following year was Weatherford’s two-story general store, equipped with a living space on the second floor.
In 1899, it saw a three-story addition of more brick, and soon the Weatherford Hotel, in its entirety, was born.
Early guests included the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Moran, William Randolph Hearst, and author Zane Grey. Grey would even go on to pen his novel The Call of the Canyon in what is now part of the ballroom that bears his name.
The top floor once had a sunroom that was used for dances and parties, as well as a three-sided balcony and cupola that graced the original façade. The hotel also housed a theater, a restaurant, a billiard hall, and a local radio station.
The Weatherford fell into decline, however, after it was damaged by several fires between the late 1920s and the early 1970s.
In 1975, the hotel was bought by brothers Henry and Lloyd Taylor. They were then under contract by the state to use it as a site for the Weatherford Residential Facility, an organization for clients undergoing rehabilitation, physical therapy, and job training.
While it was a positive service to the community, the program only lasted two years.
After serving as a youth hostel in the 1980s, the building once again became a hotel proper by the next decade, run by Henry and his wife Pamela “Sam.” There was an emphasis on fine dining with its three pubs: Charly’s, the Gopher Hole, and the Exchange.
The Exchange Pub was originally a literal telephone exchange. When transcontinental telephone service first came to Flagstaff in 1910, a separate brick building was put up to the south of the hotel.
In the 1930s, the exchange became the La Brea Cafe, followed by the authentically run Chinese-American Weatherford Cafe in the 1950s. Finally, its original appearance was restored by the Taylors who made it the Exchange Pub in 1995.
The Weatherford Hotel has its own special New Year’s Eve Ceremony which doubles as a special occasion to celebrate its New Year’s Day opening. First launched in 1999 for the big one hundredth anniversary, they call it “The Great Pinecone Drop.”
Originally created out of a garbage can and a string of lights by Sam, the pine cone was lowered onto the roof of the hotel at midnight on December 31, 1999 and became an instant hit.
Today, it is an official giant, metal ponderosa pine cone and is actually lowered twice, once to coincide with New York City’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, and once at midnight Mountain Standard Time.
Whether you’re seeking fun, entertainment, thrills, or even spooky ghostly chills, the Weatherford is well-worth a stay. If you’re looking for the latter, try booking a room on the third floor, or checking out the basement.
Don’t forget to tell the dining staff about your encounter!