Sunday, October 30, 2016

SPOTLIGHT STORY- THE RENOVATION OF THE HAUNTED HACIENDA HOTEL


Hello all,

Yesterday I ventured downtown New Port Richey to take a tour of the Hacienda Hotel and to see the renovation project in the process there. I have been wanting to go inside the hotel for years. There are many rumors flying around of its haunted past. Such rumours are strange sounds, seeing strange objects sitting in hallways, and glimpses of a man in a dress shirt at one of the back windows of the hotel that fades away when you get near.

The hotel sits along the shores of the Pithlachascotee River in downtown New Port Richey. In the 1920's, though hard to believe, the hotel was once the place for Hollywood stars to retreat to. Stars like Thomas Meighan, Charlie Chaplin, Irving Berlin, Shirley Temple, Babe Ruth, Johnny Cash, and Gloria Swanson. The land was donated by James E. Meighan, the brother of silent movie star Thomas Meighan. It is rumored he won the land in a card game. They were both landowners in New Port Richey. The hotel was designed by Thomas Reed Martin. The hotel later served as a mental health facility for the elderly.

The renovation of the haunted Hacienda Hotel- our tour guide

The renovation of the haunted  Hacienda Hotel- outside





I took a short video of the start of the tour:





Our tour guide seemed very knowledgeable. She said the hotel has 45 rooms now, and they want to renovate it so it will have 65 rooms. I was surprised the hotel still looked in pretty good condition. The Friends of the Hacienda and Historic New Port Richey are trying to raise $70,000 to put towards the renovation. This was one of the first hotels where you could have your own private bathroom. Most hotels still shared bathrooms at the time. One of the rooms was named after Gloria Swanson because it was rumored she stayed there often.

I took video of my whole tour. I will share that story later. I have heard that there were secret tunnels under the hotel that were used to smuggle in alcohol and prostitutes during the Prohibition. Our guide said that a type of sonogram was done and that one of the tunnels  ran under the hotels hot water heater. It is also rumored to be another tunnel at the top of the stairs covered by red paneling. I didn't see any red paneling on the tour, but I did see quite a few boarded up doorways or openings.  It is also rumored that there is a secret floor that can be accessed from the outside called the Bordello. We walked around the backside of the hotel where the guide said the Bordello was.

The renovation of the haunted Hacienda Hotel- back of the hotel







Then we ventured into the basement. At this time I was still taking video. At the bottom of the stairs there was part of the room that was sanctioned off with what looked to be chicken wire and a door. On the wall inside the door was lettering that said "Killer Cage". When I walked around to get a better look my phone stopped recording. I couldn't get it to record anymore. So I took photos with my phone of the rest of the tour. I have no photos of the beginning since I was taking video at the time. What I found strange besides when it decided to stop recording, is for some reason I can't access any of my video. I'm still trying to view it with no luck! After the basement we went back upstairs through more rooms and hallways.

Then we get to the end of our tour and our guide says that this hallway is where most of their hauntings occur. That's when we go by room 16 where they have cups set up spelling a name across the floor. She said they spell out a name at night, and when they come back the cups have been moved to where they no longer spell anything. I found that very interesting. After the tour we took a short walk over to the Historical Society and talked with Jeff Miller to see if he could shed some light on some of the rumours. He affirmed that it did once serve as a mental facility for the elderly. He also affirmed that James Meighan won the hotel land in a card game. As far as silent film star Gloria Swanson frequenting the hotel, he has found no evidence of. He also has no knowledge of any of its haunted history or anything about the chicken wire caged room in the basement with the lettering "Killer Cage". Whatever you may believe it was great taking the tour. If you want to find out how to donate money to their fundraiser, their website is www.friendsofthehacienda.com.

The renovation of the haunted Hacienda Hotel- outside



                                 
The renovation of the haunted Hacienda Hotel- outside fountain




               
The renovation of the haunted Hacienda Hotel- haunted cup room























                     
The renovation of the haunted hacienda hotel- the haunted hallway

The renovation of the haunted Hacienda Hotel- haunted cup room















3 comments:

  1. Sounds fascinating- and spooky!! Will be sharing this on "Haunts for Sale or Rent" BB2U

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  2. Thank you, it was definitely a great tour I recommend taking!

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