GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let’s put the “Boo!” back into “booze.” All those who attend will receive a free G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you.
Note: At this month’s gathering, the management has agreed to give attendees tours of the haunted room. In addition, there will be themed live entertainment in the bar, and some other surprises. (for more info…)
THE DATE: June 13th, 2010 (Sunday)
THE PLACE: The Aztec Hotel
(311 W. Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia ) Map
THE TIME: 8:00pm to the witching hour
Although, the Aztec Hotel is best known for its link to the Southern Californian car culture as a Route 66 road-side attraction, this structure predates that famous highway. When this architectural curiosity opened in 1924, it was thought to be one of the most unique buildings in California, and artists and architects made pilgrimages to experience it. This was in large part due to the designs of architect/ explorer Robert Stacy-Judd. Not only did he specialize in a “Mayan Revival” style (that was more literal than the Mayan influenced “zig-zag” art deco popular at the time), but this eccentric artist was also an expert on the Mayan culture, and frequently traveled to Central and South America in search of lost cities (sometimes using dirigibles to explore uncharted areas). Because he was such a colorful character, the “Indiana Jones” of his day, balancing academics with adventure, some believe he may even be one of the resident ghosts.
It’s interesting to note, this hotel seems to have much more in common with the “dead” Aztec culture than just sharing the same name. First of all, despite its sophistication that seems ahead of its time, “The Aztec” has always had trouble surviving. Within two years of its opening, the owner had money troubles (due to the high construction costs of the building), and its future was bleak. If the community hadn’t rallied to keep it open, it would have died then. Now, here we are almost a hundred years later, and the hotel still seems like its always on the verge of extinction (and yet is still beloved). Secondly, like the Aztecs, and again despite its sophistication, it seems to always have had a barbaric reputation. From the very beginning, the Aztec has been a place of scandal (a brothel, a speak-easy, a gambling den, a gangster hang-out, a crime scene, a half-way house, etc.) When it opened, it quickly became a place where famous people (and local police) would go to be naughty, and that tradition seems to have continued through the decades. As Shirley Jackson wrote in The Haunting of Hill House, “Some houses are born bad.”
This strange hotel is also widely considered the most haunted place on old Route 66 (on par with “Suicide Bridge” in Pasadena). Although ghostly activity has been experienced throughout the building, most of the activity seems to center around room 120 (and the hall outside room 120). Over the years, many people have seen “the woman” of room 120. One irate customer even complained once to the clerk that he gave him the key to an already occupied room, because when he walked in, “a woman” was sitting on the bed. The exact story as to who this female phantom is (or was) has been lost over the years, but she is known by most as “Razzle-Dazzle” and is commonly thought to have been an actress that was killed by her husband in that room. Some variations of the story present her as being a prostitute and/or the death as being an accident. Though some have named the entity “Sarah,” her actual name is unknown, and no one has been able to prove that anything unusual has ever happened in that room. That said, the sightings of her (as well as other odd phenomena) continue to this day. So the next time you are driving down that historic highway, pull over and enjoy one of the “most unique” buildings in California.