Elevators are for a lot of people just confined, claustrophobic shells that they merely endure to get from point A to point B. It is really just a little container, surrounded by dark space and snaking cables that lead up into the gloom, and when thinking about it in this was it may be no wonder why there have actually been quite a few hauntings gathered about these places. Indeed, there have been many such stories, and here we will look at some of the insidious, mysterious forces that seem to congregate around creepy elevators.
Many of these haunted elevators are located within places with a long and storied history. In Easton, Maryland we have the Avalon Theater. Built in 1921, it was at the time considered to be the epitome of opulence, with an enormous dome, leaded glass doors, a full extravagant ballroom, and all of it adorned with ornate decorations, all of which earned its reputation as the “Showplace of the Eastern Shore.” Even so, the theater would go through several periods in later years where it fell into disrepair and was closed down, before finally being completely and beautifully restored and renovated to what it is today. It is now well known for its live performances and state of the art sound system, but it is also known as being quite haunted, in particular the elevator.
The notorious elevator of the Avalon Theater is known for all manner of weirdness. It will open and close its doors for no reason when no one is around, as well as ascend or descend without having any bottoms pushed. In more extreme cases a ghostly woman in old fashioned period clothing is said to exit the elevator and inexorably make her way to the theater only to vanish into thin air. The owners of the theater have had the elevator looked at by an elevator service company on several occasions, but nothing has been found to be technically wrong with it. The lore is that it is being haunted by a young actress by the name of Marguerite, who was purportedly murdered in the elevator in the 1920s on her way to a Vaudeville show at the theater, meaning perhaps she is forever tethered to this place. Whatever the reason is, the Avalon Theater’s elevator reportedly continues to display a mind of its own to this day, and the ghostly Marguerite is also known to haunt the projection room and other areas of the theater.
Another historic building with its own haunted elevator is the Adolphus Hotel, in Dallas, Texas, one the tallest buildings in the state in its day and built in 1912 by beer magnate Adolphus Busch, patriarch of the Anheuser-Busch family. Legend has it that the 19th floor of the building was the origin of tragedy in the 1930s, when a jilted bride killed herself there by hanging. The entire floor is said to be haunted by her restless, wandering spirit, but it gets really spooky where the elevator is involved. The woman’s face will apparently appear out of nowhere in the elevator mirror, and the doors open and shut on their own without warning or apparent cause. Guests have reported the button for the 19th floor being pushed by unseen hands, and the elevator will allegedly often go to the 19th floor no matter what button is pushed by a guest. Creepier than all of this is that there have been reports of people getting stuck in the elevator at the 19th floor, after which the doors refuse to open and the horrified victim waits until the doors just open of their own accord, sometimes for up to 20 minutes later. As with the Avalon Theater, no mechanical problem with the elevator has been found.
We also have the Kennesaw House of Marietta, Georgia, which was originally erected in 1845 as a storehouse for cotton from the plantations of the area. It is one of the oldest buildings in Marietta, and at various times has served as a meeting place for Union spies during the Civil War and as a war hospital and morgue for the Confederates, seeing much suffering and death during this dark time of dread. It now houses a museum, and boy is its elevator ever haunted, with all manner of weirdness emanating from it, even though the building itself is only a mere 3 floors high. The most common type of strange report is that the elevator will open for no apparent reason to disgorge injured or maimed Civil War soldiers, and some have even claimed that the elevator sometimes reveals a scene of a bloody Civil War hospital permeated by writhing bodies and the wailing and screams of the damned, as if it is some sort of portal to a former, macabre time. There have also been reports of what appears to be a spectral Civil War era surgeon who will ride the elevator along with horrified guests before blinking out of existence before their eyes.
Still another historic building with its own ghosts is the famous Algonquin Hotel, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The 181-room hotel was originally conceived of as being a luxurious residence hotel, but when it opened in 1902 it did so as a regular lodging hotel. The hotel quickly acquired a reputation for having notable literary and theatrical guests, and it became the main meeting place for a ragtag group of secretive journalists, artists, playwrights, authors, publicists and actors called the Algonquin Round Table, also ominously referred to as “The Vicious Circle.” It was rather like a secret society, with these influential artists coming together to exchange ideas and witticisms, as well as to discuss all manner of issues behind closed doors at the hotel’s Rose Room over daily lunches.
The group met from 1919 and continued these regular clandestine meetings for over a decade before they fell into decline and were suddenly shut down in 1932, shortly before the Rose Room was removed altogether. It are these members of the enigmatic Vicious Circle who are said to still haunt the premises to this day, for some reason making themselves particularly known in the elevators. Ghostly figures of some of the circle’s more prominent members have been seen here, and perhaps even more creepily it is sometimes reported that a disembodied voice will croon the song “I’m in the Mood for Love” on the elevator.
Moving along we come to the Weinstein dorm, of New York’s historic New York University (NYU). According to a report on The Black Sheep Online, the dorm has long had complaints from students that the elevators seem to move, or are at least perceived as moving much, much more slowly than usual, sometimes even slowing down or speeding up as someone is riding it. It was enough to capture the attention of paranormal investigators, who believe that ghosts or something altogether stranger may be at work here. One of these investigators, a Paul Angler, has explained his own theory on the dorm’s weird fluctuating elevator speed:
Basically, it’s highly likely that these particular elevators exist outside of time itself, meaning the passengers are actually momentarily transported to a void in which time does not exist, making a few floors feel like months. So there were probably ghosts too, yeah.
What is going on here? Speaking of haunted dorm elevators, the one at Denton Hall, at the University of Maryland, is also said to be incredibly haunted. The lore says that a student once got her head caught in the elevator doors and was decapitated, giving way to ghost stories ever since. Here the buttons push by themselves, doors open at will, and the elevator is sometimes supposedly rocked and jostled by some inexplicable force. Disembodied voices whispered into the ears of those who ride the elevator and the distinct feeling that someone else is there even when no one is are also not uncommon, and many who know of this alleged haunting refuse to ride the elevator at all.
Lastly we have a curious account of a haunted elevator given by a witness on the site Your Ghost Stories, who claims her bizarre experience happened at the Hilton Hotel in Seattle, Washington. She says that she was in the city with her mom in order to attend a pageant at the time. One evening they decided to get some sodas from a vending machine that was way down at the end of a long hall, and the witness says of what happened next:
The elevators you would normally take were a long distance from the pop machines and there was a service elevator a few doors down from us. We took the service elevator. This elevator was OLD! When the doors opened, there was an old chair resting in the corner of it. I thought, “Maids use this elevator, someone must have left it or something.” When you walk in, you feel this feeling that just makes you uncomfortable. At the same time you’re a little freaked out because you’re in an old elevator with a rusty old chair!
I turned to my mom and said, “I bet you someone is sitting in that chair!” After that nothing was quite the same. The feelings began to get stronger, and the elevator doors wouldn’t open! The light showed we were on our floor, which was the third floor so it wasn’t that long of a ride. I then said, “I bet this thing is haunted.” As soon as I said that, the voice spoke. It sounded as if it were from an old radio, and it sounded like it was on top on the elevator, yet it felt like it was right in your ear! The voice sounded like it was from another time though. I can’t quite describe it, but it was freaky! It said, “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!” in a low, uncomfortable voice.
My mom and I ran to the doors and the doors opened and we were out of there! My brother didn’t believe us, but now I’m an even better believer! I told two of my pageant friends about this and they replied, “Let’s go check it out!” I was hesitant, but I still went. It still felt uneasy, not a good feeling. It didn’t feel “evil”. It felt… Depressing and sad. Then at other times it felt creepy happy! The chair wasn’t in the elevator and my friends and I were too scared to talk, so it didn’t reply. I think it was us talking to it that caused it to want to reply to us.
Here have only been a sampling of the many reports of spooky haunted elevators, and it really puts a new spin on these typically mundane conveniences of daily life. Yet when you think about it you are there, hovering in the darkness surrounded by those cables and the gloom, hanging there in mid air without even thinking that these are places that are often host to their own brand of paranormal weirdness. It certainly gives one something to think about the next time they get into an elevator and find themselves alone there.