THE DEMON HOTEL
In the unassuming location of Hargrave Street, Winnipeg, Canada, lies the apartment block which has come to be known as The Demon Hotel. Having been vacant and gutted for many years, the building stirred up many local stories and legends, such as sightings of spirits and strange noises from within.
Said to have been built in 1910, The Demon Hotel (actually named Kenilworth Court) is rumoured to have been saturated with bad luck, negative occurrences and deaths, before its eventual closure. According to the Winnipeg Sun online newspaper:
In 1926 Charles Seymour, 70, was crossing Broadway at Hargrave, he was struck by a streetcar. Then in 1933, three-year-old Mary Sue Burns, who lived in the block with her family, darted out onto the street when she was hit and killed instantly by a Winnipeg Electric Company truck.
According to research, the major crime in the building occurred in 1973 when Lorraine Joan Bachynski, a 19-year-old, was stabbed to death. John Brothers was sentenced to eight years in jail for manslaughter.
The eerie and unsettling building met it’s ultimate end when, in April of this year, the building was engulfed by flames and destroyed in a serious fire. To further add to the mystery, people reported seeing ghostly and demonic faces in the flames.
Intrigued by the Demon Hotel and its unusual history, I contacted the owner of a website dedicated to the research, promotion and theories surrounding the building, and was granted an interview. Requesting to remain anonymous, the website administrator shared his/her answers with me. I hope you enjoy our exchange:
– Can you please tell us some background on the Demon Hotel?
Every city has its urban legends and tales of the supernatural, and downtown Winnipeg dwellers have several. One surrounds the hundred year old abandoned apartment building at 44 Hargrave Street (see “The Horror of Demon Hotel” http://demonhotelofhargrave.blogspot.ca/2014/05/the-horror-of-demon-hotel.html). Rumours of alleged paranormal experiences surface now and then, getting passed around. There were tales of scary faces staring from the broken windows, creepy blood red graffiti was seen, rumours of homeless people who were never seen again after seeking refuge in the ruined building, and stories of a mysterious “Cat Lady” haunting the area.
Speculation was that the building was haunted, and that the ghosts had originally come from the old Edwardian Dalnavert house just down the street, displaced when the old house was made into a museum.
The apartment building was left vacant for years, only occupied by occasional squatters, and perhaps other occupants of a less human nature. Later, demolition began on the building, pulling down the spooky looking façade, but leaving behind the ruins of the back half, and the sinister basement level intact.
Finally, the saga of Demon Hotel seemingly came to an end on Easter Monday 2015 when the ruins of the building mysteriously burned down. But is it really over?
– How did Kenilworth Court find the name Demon Hotel?
This of course comes from the mysterious graffiti seen over the years on the side of the abandoned building (see “Ghostly Graffiti on Demon Hotel“ http://demonhotelofhargrave.blogspot.ca/2012/10/ghostly-graffiti-on-demon-hotel.html). Eventually it became the nickname of the place. I remember once passing down the back lane where the ominous words were painted, and seeing a note someone had pinned up saying, “we don’t want your demons!” The next day I saw the Downtown Biz painting over the graffiti. But a week later I passed by and saw the letters rising out of the paint. Within days, the words were fully regenerated.
We have speculated about the name for quite some time, and believe it means that, after the building became abandoned by the living, only the spirits of the dead remained. Since supernatural entities attract others of their kind, more homeless spirits took up haunting the deserted structure. If Demons really do constantly travel around the world, there can be no doubt that the old apartment building would serve as a perfect rest stop. There may have been many malevolent spirits from all over the world stopping by the cursed structure, which could also explain the diversity of paranormal manifestations experienced. Because of this, an uneasy joke saying began to become popular with some area residents: “When they’re not in Hell, they stay at Demon Hotel.”
– What makes you believe in hotel is haunted?
I had passed the ominous looking building many times, but I first became aware of something strange when a friend who worked for Statistics Canada needed to find out why residents from that address were no longer responding to survey calls. Knowing I lived in the area, she asked me to take a look. That’s when I discovered the building was evacuated – perhaps for many months or years. Yet she swears someone had answered the phone there recently.
Of course tales of the mysterious “Cat Lady” intrigued me. Then one day a couple of friends came by after parking on Hargrave, and immediately told me of their disturbing encounter with the “Cat Lady” (see “Incident at Demon Hotel” http://demonhotelofhargrave.blogspot.ca/2012/09/incident-at-demon-hotel.html). They told of a weird yet alluring barefoot woman wearing only a nightgown on a cold evening, who implored them to help save a cat in the dark and threatening corridor beside Demon Hotel. Luckily they resisted being lured into the potential trap.
Since then other accounts have been received. People reported to see faces appearing through the broken and boarded up windows, or heard weird sounds at night. One alleged witness told me, “it was like the faces of the damned, staring out in hope of help, but they don’t speak because their tongues are cut out.”
Recently a co-worker (who had just heard of the fire) confided an incident to me when he visited a friend living at 44 Hargrave. The building had once contained elevators, which were already removed leaving only the empty shafts. One night the two friends heard violin music coming from the shafts, and were able to look up through an opening. They were shocked to see a clown face staring back at them from the darkness. Needless to say they left in a hurry.
Over the years many other stories have surfaced describing various strange and disturbing things, leading even sceptical people to suspect something unusual is going on there. Besides the many accounts documented in the Blog, even just looking at the place you’d know that, if evil spirits exist, they couldn’t be happier than at a place like 44 Hargrave (even the street name has aura of Death around it).
– Have you ever been inside it? If so, can you describe what it was like?
I have referred this question to the brave but anonymous Urban Explorer who ventured into Demon Hotel on two occasions (see “Inside Demon Hotel” http://demonhotelofhargrave.blogspot.ca/2012/10/inside-demon-hotel.html):
“Urban Exploration is like any passion…exciting, rewarding and potentially dangerous! In the case of Demon Hotel, the building itself was seemingly derelict and cold. Once inside though it became foreboding and menacing. I have encountered these feeling, only once before when exploring. The other situation was in the bush where there was deserted army barrack. Apparently, at this deep bush barrack, some nasty things happened. It gave me the same chilling feeling that I got from Demon Hotel. On the surface, the inside was fairly standard. Heavy damage, floors ripped up, the stench of rot. Of course…there is much more to this frightening place than just what is one the surface…as the Blog explores.”
– On your website, you describe encounters with a ‘Cat Lady.’ What’s your theory on this?
In the media you hear reports of strange people (male and female) who try to lure unsuspecting passer-bys (many times children) using a cat. Then there were stories of a mysterious Cat Lady in the area popping up from time to time over the past few years leading up to the fire. While there very well were squatters in Demon Hotel…this woman was seemingly interacting with the locals… something squatters usually do not do. On top of that, it seems the Cat Lady definitely attempted to, for lack of a better term, lure people into Demon Hotel. The question that concerns me is how many people actually fell victim to this strange woman (and her demonic cat)? There are many missing persons reports in the area though…coincidence? I think not.
(Above, artist impression of the ‘Cat Lady.’)
It seemed she was trying to lure my friend into the dark area beside Demon Hotel, and knowing this friend, I think she had assumed a form which could have tempted him (a pretty barefoot girl dressed only in a skimpy nightgown). Perhaps this entity creates an illusion taken from the victims’ mind to lure them into a trap. It is also said that cats are common familiars for witches and demons.
– Why do you choose to remain anonymous?
Well, the Blog has received a certain amount of hate mail from people who angrily deny the possibility of paranormal activity happening in downtown Winnipeg. But beyond physical security, it is an attempt to avoid supernatural retaliation. The purpose of the Blog has been to warn the Public about the dangers of supernatural phenomena, and I thought the best protection to avoid attack by angry spirits and their human allies is to remain anonymous. We seek no profit or material gain, only to help educate the public to avoid dangerous paranormal phenomena.
– The hotel has recently been destroyed in a fire. Can you tell us more?
At this time five teenagers have been charged with the fire, but while plain vandalism and arson are the most logical explanations (as they are not an uncommon occurrence in Winnipeg), I can’t seem to dismiss the possibility of a more unearthly cause. Perhaps these children were possessed by evil spirits, or maybe the demonic forces themselves caused it with their Hell fire.
As to whether this will end the curse, there are several strains of thought going around. Some feel that the purifying powers of fire have finally destroyed the unholy location, and the evil forces with it. Others think the fire may lock the supernatural entities into that spot forever, making any future buildings cursed from the start. But one frightening possibility is that the fire caused the unearthly spirits to flee the location, dispersing and perhaps haunting the inhabitants of nearby homes and apartments (another reason why arson may be the worst thing to do to haunted dwellings). Only time will tell whether or not the curse of Demon Hotel has really been lifted.
– Finally, what are the dangers of investigating haunted places?
Any demonic or haunted buildings provide dangers to your body as well as your soul. As documented in many other websites, hauntings are usually dominated by hate filled energies determined to steal the life essence from any living being, because they lack this essence themselves. All living beings should avoid demonic sites for this reason, and additionally because demonic forces may be able to attach to you, taking these negative energies with you, perhaps even leading to demonic possession. This can cause serious psychological problems. As well these old buildings are health hazards filled with debris and rusty nails that can hurt you.
PLEASE VISIT: Demon Hotel Blog
All photographs courtesy of the anonymous team at the blog.
Thanks for reading.