The Biltmore Hotel, inspiration for Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel and Robert Bloch’s Bates Motel, holds the dubious honor of having been named “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” in 2000 by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The Biltmore finished construction in 1918, financed by proud Satanist Johan Leisse Weisskopf. Weisskopf was unsubtle about his plan for the hotel: it would be a venue through which to familiarize reticent Puritan New Englanders with the joys of his religion. The hotel was built to include a chicken coop on the roof, to supply sacrifices for weekly masses; hot springs in the basement for purification rituals (rumors that whirlpools were filled with human blood are likely only the wild imaginings of later generations); and the famous Bacchante Girls, who waitressed nude in the Bacchante Dining Room, which perhaps more accurately might have been called the Bacchante Orgy Pit, frequented by such luminaries of the time as Douglas Fairbanks, F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong.
Obviously, the Satanism gives the hotel a bad name, though it was Weisskopf’s ties to the Rhode Island mob that probably did the hotel its only real damage. Despite the scores of chickens slaughtered in the hotel, they are not the ones who haunt its halls.
Rhode Island was widely known as the state least likely to follow Prohibition’s laws, and the Biltmore was one of the most decadent places to get drunk. No one hid in speakeasy basements in the Biltmore: wine was a quarter a glass, served in crystal. Men of the law and of the government drank free. This was likely one of the reasons that between the years 1920 and 1933 six police officers were implicated in the murders of eight people within the walls of the Biltmore, along with one governor (at least six rapes, one murder) one mayor (one murder), and a cardinal (one eleven year-old prostitute drowned in a bathtub). These are the ghosts that are said to haunt the Biltmore, along with all of the other victims of men of less auspicious rank. Nightly, after the bars close, raucous drinking and dancing and talking and laughing is heard; some guests of the hotel disappear at night and are never found.
Providence’s modern-day Satanists like to point out that the disappearances only began after new management took over the Biltmore’s day-to-day operations, “cleaning the place up” for the tourists and businessmen, forbidding their maids any blood sacrifices, reupholstering the stained velvet seating in the Bacchante Room, tearing down the chicken coops, boarding up the underground alter rooms. They claim that it was in fact the Satanism that kept the ghosts at bay and protected the living. The current owners, disagreeing, will allow no experimentation, so it remains at this time an unknown.
UPDATE: Two more disappearances in 2008: Erving F. Bishop, 42, and his daughter Emily Bishop, 4, tourists from New Jersey, disappeared sometime between 11pm on Saturday, November 15 and 4am, Sunday the 16th. Apparently the girl could not get to sleep, so her father took her on a walk around the hotel. Joanne Newnon-Bishop, the girl's mother, fell asleep just after they left, and by the time she was startled awake at 3:50am, they had disappeared. This brings 2008's total to 6.
- ► 2009 (23)