The Ghost Bride of the Hassayampa Inn
Last week I spent time in Arizona exploring the red rocks of Sedona, haunted hospitals turned hotels in Jerome and old watering holes of Prescott. It was a refreshing and interesting vacation full of a rich history. It may have been only just over a hundred years ago but things were wilder, a bit more mysterious and the ghosts of that era are still alive and well, possibly just in the stories that continue to be told, or maybe because they never left.
I couldn't help but be intrigued by a story I heard of a new bride who took her life and took up a permanent residency at the Hassayampa Inn just a block away from the famous square in Prescott. This is the same square where you could find Big Nose Kate sipping a beer beside Doc Holiday with ladies of the night lounging on top balconies and miners singing along to the piano while spending their newly earned fortune on wicked pleasures.
The Inn itself is charming with a Spanish influence and regal lobby adorned with chandeliers and vintage wooden writing desks for sending letters back to loved ones. My friend Vanessa, who was my own personal tour guide, shared the story with me that has been lore in the area for as long as anyone can remember.
Faith Summers was a young woman, a beauty, who married an older man right in the square surrounded by large trees and a nearby mineral spring. The night of their wedding in the year 1927, they checked into the Hassayampa Inn, to a large Grand Balcony Suite on the fourth floor with a balcony. That same night her new husband went out for cigarettes and never came back. No one knows what happened to him, it's fun to speculate. Was he in proper garb and accosted for his fine wares while walking back? Did he change his mind and leave his youthful bride for another long lost lover? Did his short run turn into a few games of poker where things got dicey and ended in a shoot out? No one has any answers for this part of the story although many have theories but the gruesomeness that follows is always the same.
Faith became frantic after waking up the next day and her husband has still not returned. She continued to worry over the following days, pacing around the honeymoon suite. After a few days she feared the worst and was heartbroken beyond repair. Unable to go on she hung herself from the bell tower.
At this point it's just a sad story of a young bride that had a tragic end, but really it's just the beginning of the tale. Over the last hundred years Faith has been seen several times on the balcony, looking out, probably still waiting for her husband. There have been countless reports of her being seen or felt from those walking by the huge hotel, guests staying overnight or even hotel staff having encounters. Here are a few of the most popular...
When the kitchen staff feel her presence, all the burners on the stove go out at once. Faith has also been known to eavesdrop on conversations in the kitchen and has let the living know if she doesn’t like what is being said. She has knocked a full coffee cup on the woman holding it when the woman mentioned she was going to the library to find out more about Faith. Faith may have some issues with strangers finding out about how she died.
Faith has been seen floating down a hallway wearing a pink gown, disappearing through doors into various rooms.
Faith has startled people by appearing at the end of their beds, crying and holding flowers.
A hotel employee was in the hallway right outside of the Grand Balcony Suite, 426, and was surprised when a wreath hanging on the door suddenly flew off the door after being knocked off by a loud pounding, coming from within the room. He quickly opened the door but no one living was inside.
One couple who were spending the night in the Grand Balcony Suite, 426 were rudely awakened at 3 AM when the radio and TV turned on by themselves at full blast. The couple also found that the lights were turned on and water faucets in the bathroom were running.
My friend Vanessa and I visited the hotel and looked on the balcony and bell tower every time we drove by. We did not get the chance to see Faith but did talk to a lovely young mother-to-be that was working the front desk. She shared that many people have given their story to staff and that she believes the jilted bride ghost may still be on the property, but she has never seen her. She also made sure we knew that everyone thinks of her fondly and hopes she has moved on. They all want Faith's soul to be happy, resting peacefully.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not it's interesting to be swept up in a community that cherishes the dead, their individual occurrences and honors their memories. Some of them were just lowly prostitutes, gun slingers or mine workers. Some of them were wealthy outlaws, interesting locals or abandoned brides. In a way Faith lives on as a tale of the most extreme case of heartache Arizona has ever seen. After some reflection I also hope Faith has found herself at rest on the other side. Who knows, maybe her groom has been there waiting for her all along.