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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

A Haunted Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island!

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

On a recent weekend trip to Providence, Rhode Island, I thought I was going to have an unexpected need for Bill Murray and his crew of Ghostbusters! I was in town with my daughter Madison and my niece Sophie to attend a bridal shower for another niece, Sarah. We planned to go the night before the shower so I booked a room at the Graduate Providence right in the center of the downtown area. The hotel used to be the famous Biltmore Hotel and is on the National Register of Historic Places (it was added in 1977), so I thought it would be cool to experience a little bit of Providence's history.

The hotel was originally built in 1922 and has been through many ups and downs (as well as many different owners) over the years. Most recently it was purchased in 2017, renovated and renamed the Graduate Providence as part of a boutique chain of "Graduate" hotels in college towns across the US. Although it has been renamed, the iconic "Biltmore" sign still sits atop the building in a nod to its' historic landmark status.

When we arrived, I left Madison and Sophie in the car while I went to check in. I entered the beautifully designed Art Deco lobby to get our room keys. As I said, the new owner has a chain of "Graduate" hotels in various college towns that pay homage to the history of the local colleges and universities and celebrate the famous students from the nearby schools. The room keys are designed as the Student IDs of these celebrity students. We got three "graduate" keys: David Byrne (of the Talking Heads) who went to the Rhode Island School of Design during the 1970-71 term; Kara Walker (an American contemporary artist) who got her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994; and Andre Leon Talley (an American fashion journalist and former creative director and American editor-at-large of Vogue magazine) who got his Masters of Art degree from Brown University in 1972.

After checking in, I went out to grab Madison and Sophie and our bags. As we entered the beautifully appointed lobby, Madison immediately said "This hotel reminds me of one in American Horror Story! I swear this place is haunted!". Sophie and I nervously laughed off her premonition and proceeded to admire the exquisite decor and interesting architecture.

When we got to our room, Madison Googled the hotel on her phone and exclaimed "OMG! It IS haunted!". She then filled us in on the spooky details of the hotel's history. The construction of the hotel in 1922 was financed by Johan Leisse Weisskopf, who was a rumored Satanist. He apparently wanted to create a location where he could educate others on the basics of Satanism. At his instruction, the hotel was built with unusual features such as chicken coops on the rooftop which were rumored to keep chickens to be used for sacrifices in Satanic ceremonies. (However, some say these coops were installed to keep chickens and ducks to offer diners fresh, local fare at the prestigious hotel.) He also dug hot springs in the basement supposedly for purification ceremonies. Additionally, during the Prohibition Era, the Biltmore's basement operated as a speakeasy frequented by mobsters and several related murders occurred during that time.

This sordid history has given the hotel a reputation as a haunted establishment. Ghost hunters have used advanced equipment to record high levels of paranormal activity at the hotel. Various hotel guests over the years have reported mysterious happenings such as seeing ghostly apparitions in the hallways, unexplained doors slamming and hearing loud parties with clinking glasses and laughing with no actual source. One of the main ghosts reported to occupy the hotel is a financier who lost all of his money in the stock market crash of 1929. He was staying in a room at the Biltmore on the 14th floor when he received the devastating news and was so distraught he threw himself out of the window. Guests of the hotel have reported seeing someone fall past their window on lower floors but there is no body when they look out the window to check. If you google "Biltmore Providence Haunted" you can find many other recounts of guest's spooky experiences while staying at the hotel.

True to Madison's intuition, the hotel was named "America's Most Haunted Hotel" in 2000. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), we did not experience any supernatural occurrences during our stay. What we did experience was a very beautiful hotel with a unique theme and interesting decor. The rooms continued the local "graduate" theme with a mural of black and white photos of famous students of the nearby schools. The sitting room had a "library" feel keeping with the college vibe. The titles of the books on the painted wall were creative and entertaining.

Although we didn't have a lot of time to explore other parts of Providence on this trip, the hotel had a great central location close to many of the attractions in the area. I would definitely stay at the Graduate Providence again when I return to Rhode Island to explore Providence and nearby Newport (hopefully soon!). If you are looking for the full on ghoulish experience, it would be a GREAT place to stay for a creepy Halloween getaway! Maybe you will get to meet some of the hotel's more "permanent" guests...if you're lucky!


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