Hotel Monte Vista
Hotel Monte Vista is in Flagstaff, Arizona. The hotel, built in 1927 at 100 North San Francisco Street in the Railroad Addition Historic District of downtown Flagstaff, is one of the oldest in the city.
It has a long history of alleged hauntings. In the early 1970s, it joined the list of sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hotel Monte Vista is in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, at the intersection of Aspen and San Francisco Streets. It is an imposing multi-story brick building with a Spanish Colonial architectural style. It has hosted top celebrities, including Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, and John Wayne.
To this day, many of the guest rooms on the second, third, and fourth floors of the 73-room hotel bear the names of the famous people who once stayed there.
The lounge and bar, Monte Vista Cocktail Lounge (Monte V), is equally famous.
Hotel Monte Vista origins
The mid-1920s in Arizona witnessed a rise in tourism. Some prominent residents of Flagstaff who came together to deliberate on the city’s future agreed it needed world-class accommodation facilities befitting of a city aspiring to the status of an international tourist center.
In April 1926, they started fundraising, and within a month, donations had reached nearly $200,000. One of the prominent natives of Flagstaff who donated was the novelist Zane Grey (1872-1939), best known for his novel Riders of the Purple Sage (1912).
Constructed started in June 1926. The plan for the building included a 73-room hotel, a post office, offices for the Coconino Sun newspaper, and a cocktail lounge, the Monte V Cocktail.
The city completed construction late in 1926, and the Community Hotel opened on January 1, 1927. The name honored the ordinary residents who donated generously to the construction effort.
Community Hotel renamed Hotel Monte Vista
The city soon announced a contest to propose a new name for the hotel. The judges chose Hotel Monte Vista, suggested by a 12-year-old resident.
Monte Vista means “mountain view.” It references the volcanic mountain range north of Flagstaff that residents call “The Peaks.”
The Peaks include Arizona’s tallest mountain, Humphrey’s Peak, 12,633 feet at the summit. The view of the surrounding country from The Peaks is breathtaking, hence the name “mountain view.”
Hotel Monte Vista today
The Hotel Monte Vistaa building remained a publicly held commercial property until the city sold it to a private investor in the 1960s. Today, it retains much of its original Spanish Colonial architectural style.
Hotel Monte Vista has undergone multiple renovations since 1927. But despite successive renovations to modernize the building, it retains much of its original historic architectural style.
Hotel Monte Vista is one of the places in Flagstaff where you can access a network of underground tunnels that Chinese immigrants allegedly dug under the city during the early 1900s.
The immigrants allegedly built the tunnels following a fire disaster that ravaged downtown Flagstaff at the turn of the 20th century. People blamed the Chinese for the fire, and they suffered persecution. The immigrants allegedly began digging the tunnels to avoid being harassed by angry mobs while moving around the city.
Soon members of the immigrant underworld also began using the tunnels for various illegal activities such as moonshine, opium, and gambling operations.
Mary Costigan’s radio staation
The Hotel Monte Vista building hosted a radio broadcasting station, the KFXY. Mary Costigan, originally from Detroit, started a radio station at the Majestic Opera Hosue (renamed Orpheum Theater). She originally relocated from Detroit to assist at her brother’s opera house. She later took over the business when her brother began suffering from failing health.
I927, she obtained a radio broadcasting license, making her one of the first women to run a licensed commercial broadcasting station. She moved the office of her 100-watt station to the Hotel Monte Vista in 1929.
Hotel Monte Vista Speakeasy
Rumor has it that during the prohibition era in the 1920s, a speakeasy opened at the Hotel Monte Vista building under the guise of a publishing house.
Residents and visitors could obtain alcoholic drinks forbidden under the prohibition laws at the speakeasy. The underground tunnels allegedly first opened by the city’s Chinese workers expanded during the prohibition. Bootleggers stored illegal alcoholic beverages in the tunnels.
Police raided the building and stopped the speakeasy operation in 1931. However, after the prohibition ended in 1933, it promptly resumed operation.
Slot machines for gaming
During the late 1930s, the hotel introduced Flagstaff’s first slot machines. Members of the underworld who frequented the gaming halls used the underground tunnels to access the building to avoid attracting the attention of law enforcement agents.
The hotel boasts a long list of Hollywood stars who stayed there during the 1940s and 1950s.
A-list stars who stayed in the hotel during the so-called Golden Age of the Hollywood movie industry (the late 1920s to the early 1960s) included Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Jane Russell, Bing Crosby, and Spencer Tracy.
Hollywood’s top stars trooped to Flagstaff in the 1940s and 1950s because Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon were among the favored sites for filming Western movies.
Locals regale visitors with fascinating stories of ghost hauntings and paranormal activity in the building.
Ghosts of the bellboy and elevator operator
Among the best-known Hotel Monte Vista ghosts are two former employers, a bellboy and an elevator operator.
According to a story, guests in room 210 reported that a bellboy knocked on their door. The guests went to the door when they heard someone announcing they were room service staff. When they opened the door, they found no one there. But sometimes, the apparition of a bellboy appeared momentarily and then disappeared.
Guests and staff also reported seeing an elevator operator who would politely ask them which floor they wanted to go to. But after reaching the floor, the elevator operator would disappear mysteriously.
Ghosts of former hotel residents
The ghosts of past guests and staff members who resided at the hotel also allegedly haunt the building.
A story claims that the ghosts of call girls who plied their trade for years in the nearby red-light district still haunt the street corners.
Two call girls who went with a client to a room at the Hotel Monte Vista (some sources claim Room 310, others say Room 306) reportedly ended up strangled to death. The killer then threw their bodies down below.
According to folklore, the ghosts of the two girls haunt the hotel.
Some reported seeing the girls hanging around the hotel lounge and Room 310. The ghosts would harass male guests in the room by holding them around the neck as if to strangle them while they slept.
During the prohibition and public enemy eras of the 1920s and 1930s, Hotel Monte Vista was a favorite meeting place for members of the underworld.
Criminal gangs also used the underground tunnels to run illegal operations, including bootlegging, pimping, and drug trade. Folklore claims that mobsters used underground tunnels to bury the dead bodies of their victims.
The ghosts of unnumbered victims of mob violence haunt the underground tunnels. The tortured spirits often wander into the hotel.
The bank robber
A crime gang reportedly conducted a successful bank robbery in the 1970s. They went to Hotel Monte Vista to celebrate their success. While drinking, one of the men dropped dead due to injuries earlier sustained during a shootout with law enforcement.
He showed up to celebrate with his mates despite being wounded because he did not realize how serious his injury was.
The meat man
A former resident of the Hotel Monte Vista in the 1980s used to hang raw meat from the chandelier. The person who lived in Room 220 (according to some versions of the legend) attracted attention due to his unusual behavior.
The man died suddenly while still living in the hotel. No one ever learned why the eccentric man hung raw meat from his chandelier.
People have reported seeing his apparition since he died.
A hotel worker who went to his room to fix things said they switched off the lights and all electrical appliances. But when they returned hours later, the room was in disarray. Someone had switched on all the electricals in the room.
The invader switched on the TV, ripped the bedsheets, and scattered the pieces across the room.
The woman on a rocking chair
Legend has it that the spirit of a woman who was once a long-term occupant of room 305 still sits on the rocking chair by the window in the room.
Staff reported seeing the rocking chair moving, although no one was sitting there. Sometimes the invisible entity occupying the chair would rock it so violently that the back would repeatedly knock against the closet behind it.
Other people reported seeing the woman sitting in the rocking chair by the window and looking out.
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Top image courtesy of WaterlessCloud used under Creative Commons license CC BY 3.0.
|Address||100 North San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001|
|Activity reported||Haunting, Poltergeist, Shadow Figures|
Where to find
In the media
https://hotelmontevista.com/about/, “History of a Flagstaff legend,” accessed on April 22, 2023.
http://hauntedhouses.com/arizona/monte-vista-hotel/, “Flagstaff, Arizona, Monte Vista Hotel,” accessed on April 22, 2023.
https://www.flagstaffarizona.org/things-to-do/arts-culture/history/, “Flagstaff history,” accessed on April 22, 2023.