Haunted Place: SKIRVIN HILTON
1 Park Avenue,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102.
The elegant Skirvin Hilton can be found in downtown Oklahoma City, on the corner of Park Avenue and N. Broadway, just a few steps away from the Cox Convention Center, which sits in the same plaza. The Skirvin Hilton is also just a short walk away from the Ford Center Arena, Bricktown Canal and Entertainment District, Bricktown Ballpark, the Oklahoma City National bombing Memorial, Oklahoma City Art Museum, Civic Center, the State Capitol and OU Medical Center.
WOW! What a gorgeous, impressive hotel. Tom and I finally found it, but it was well worth the effort. There are 3 square, 14 story wings, with 2 rounded bay buildings in between the wings. The brickwork is in a Flemish bond pattern, with the lower levels being faced with limestone. The high-ceiling lobby is decorated in English Gothic decor, and takes one's breath away. Check out the pictures.
There are 225 guestrooms, including 20 suites and one Presidential suite. There is also "22,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space, a "destination lounge and signature restaurant", flat panel high-definition televisions, wired and wireless high speed Internet access, a fitness center & swimming pool, a 'Hilton Honors lounge', and a business center."
This beautiful, grand hotel was built during 1910-1911. by oil and land development entrepreneur, the always well-dressed, proper William Balser Skirvin. William and architect Solomon Layton created a most luxurious, deluxe hotel on the land that he owned at 1 Park Avenue and Broadway. William Skirvin originally wanted a 6 storied building. However, the plans were changed, adding an additional 4 floors, at the recommendation of his architect Solomon Layton, who designed the Oklahoma City Capitol building,
Impressive woodwork, high ceilings and the best of materials and craftsmanship surely does create a high-end, classy hotel. "Malakoff bricks for the exterior, ornate marble for the lobby, and rare woods for paneling" were some of these high quality materials. The hotel had its own gas pipeline to the building, three wells to provide for its water supply, and its own electric plant. These extras allowed the hotel to have its own laundry facility and cooling system. Air conditioning, running water, telephones and private baths in all of the rooms, and a large, 500 seat ballroom were some of the amenities offered to its guests.
A wide range of people enjoyed their stay at the Skirvin Hotel. Being close to the State Capitol building brought in a wealthy clientele, who could afford the price of admission, and enjoyed the perks of the place. Also, other clientele reflected the "frontier character" of Oklahoma, an up and coming state. Indians, ranchers, and drillers were also welcomed.
A new 12 story wing was added to the hotel in 1926. Because of the new oil boom in 1928, $3 million dollars worth of improvements were made to the hotel. By 1930, all floors of the hotel had 14 stories, creating 525 rooms and suites, plus additional features making better use of the hotel, and providing more opportunities for income. While it was a while before the suites on the 14th floor were ready for guests, the rooftop Venetian Room and Restaurant & cabaret, located in the middle wing was up and running from the start, and was very popular.
An additional $75,000 was spent in improving the lobby. It was "doubled in size, furniture was reupholstered in floral designs, specially designed Gothic lanterns costing $1,000 each were suspended from the ceiling, and hand-carved English fumed oak was added to the walls and doors."
During the prohibition years, The Skirvin Hotel provided a safe room for private drinking for its guests; a perk they were never busted on by the authorities, who had bigger fish to fry.
During WW2, the hotel suffered some decline, and lost some of its luster. When William Skirvin died in 1944, The Skirvin Hotel was sold to Dan W. James, who spent the next 10 years investing money in its upkeep and making improvements. In 1963, Mr. James sold The Skirvin Hotel to Chicago investors, which was the beginning of a period of struggle for this hotel. This hotel passed through several owners, who did their best to keep the place going in the right direction.
In 1979, The Skirvin Hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which gave it some protection from developers. The Skirvin Hotel was in need of major renovations in 1989, but there were not enough funds to accomplish this, so this hotel was closed, and remained so until it was purchased by Oklahoma City in 2002. In 2004, The Skirvin Group began restoration and renovation efforts, in partnership with Marcus Hotels and Resorts, and funded mainly by a financing package developed by the Oklahoma City, City Council. This huge restoration project, costing millions of dollar,was finished on time and within budget. This newly restored, grand lady of a hotel reopened on March 2007, as The Skirvin Hilton Hotel!
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
During the prohibition years, high class "social escorts" perhaps made their way to the Skirvin Hotel, past the main desk to service gentlemen guests. This hotel was so large it would be hard to know what was going on in all 224 guest rooms, and outside entities probably invaded with ease, as William Skirvin welcomed everyone, in the spirit of hospitality. As an unintended consequence of one such encounter, a young woman met her end in one of the rooms.
Sometime during the 1930s after all the floors were 14 stories, it is said, perhaps by his enemies, that W.B. Skirvin himself had an affair with a young maid, and a pregnancy resulted. To avoid the scandal and the ruination of his name, the legend says that W.B. Skirvin held the maid captive on top of the 14th floor, before and after her pregnancy. The distressed young woman supposedly would scream and bang on the door, but no one would help her out of her prison. The maid eventually went mad, and jumped out the window with her baby in her arms. The one flaw in his dastardly tale is that by 1930, William would've been a pretty old man to be chasing the maids around the bed. He was born in 1860, which means he would've been in his 70s!
This may be just a libelous story, but it is true that a maid did jump from the ledge with her baby, perhaps suffering from a combination of postpartum depression, abandonment by her lover and a sense of hopelessness in her life.
Cries and screams of a woman are heard.
Strange noises and items being moved by an unseen presence have been reported.
Female entity of the young prostitute:
Male guests of the Skirvin Hotel throughout the years have reported hearing a disembodied female voice propositioning them.
On occasion, this female prostitute appears in the bathroom when an unsuspecting male is taking a shower.
One male guest reports that he woke up with this amorous female entity in his bed! I bet he made a quick exit!
Entities of the maid, known as Effie by the staff, and her baby girl.
A maid's cart, with no person attached to it, has been seen rolling up and down the halls of the hotel.
Her apparition has been seen, wandering up and down the hallways, trying to find some peace, as suicide seldom brings relief from the distress of life.
Her apparition has been seen standing a distance from the window she jumped from. One witness saw her run to the window, like she was going to go out, and then fades into nothing.
The cries of the baby sometimes keep female guests awake.
Numerous guests and staff members have given believable testimony to the occurrences listed above.
1.hilton.com * nonzine.com * associatedcontent.com
theshadowlands.net * dougdawg.blogspot.com * okc.gov