Is The Palace Hotel haunted? Make no bones about it
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Cheryl Heller, housekeeping manager at The Palace Hotel, dusts the portrait of the Lady in Blue, one of the many ghosts she claims still hang out at the Port Townsend inn.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — A loose coalition of ghosts that occupy The Palace Hotel is a benevolent group that is not out to haunt any guests, according to a woman who said she has spoken to ghosts as she cleaned the hotel's rooms over the past 18 years.

“This is the warmest, friendliest place that I've ever been in,” said housekeeping manager Cheryl Heller.

“If you come here, you might get touched by a ghost and it will startle you, but I don't want people to think this is a scary place,” she said.

Heller said she has seen and interacted with many ghosts.

There is a small boy named Adam — she knows his name because he told her — and a lady in a Victorian dress “who I saw at the top of the stairs, but she didn't come down the stairs; she walked into a wall.”

There is the ghost of a former housekeeper who has appeared on the date of her death and a monk who pines away for one of the prostitutes who lived in the hotel when it was a brothel, Heller said.

Heller said she has never seen the Lady in Blue, the building's best-known ghost, who is honored with a portrait at the top of the stairs, but Heller said she has sensed her presence several times.

Heller said she is sensitive to ghosts and has felt them in other locations.

She thinks the ghosts congregate in The Palace because of its history as a brothel.

“I think they feel comfortable here,” she said.

“I'll walk into a room and say hello to them and call them 'the people of the house.' This is where they live, and I tell them that I am cleaning for them.”

The hotel at 1004 Water St. is in the Capt. Henry L. Tibbals Building, which was built in 1889 and throughout the years has housed a bar, restaurants, a theater, a grocery store, a liquor store and a flower shop.

The doors of the 16 rooms at the hotel bear the names of many of the prostitutes who once worked there.

Since the 1960s, guests and visitors at the Palace Hotel in Port Townsend have said they have seen or sensed the Lady in Blue, who also was known as Miss Claire.

The hotel keeps a scrapbook of “ghost files,” and a guestbook next to the Lady in Blue's portrait allows guests to chime in.

Heller also has assembled her own scrapbook of photos and stories that she keeps at home.

“I've had so many questions about this, I thought I'd save some of the things that I've seen and heard,” she said.

“I should probably bring it in and leave it here, but I don't want anyone to walk off with it.”

Hotel manager Gary Schweizer is accustomed to the public and the press attention, especially around Halloween.

He goes along with it good-naturedly but feels it is a mixed bag.

There may be some people who are attracted to the hotel because of the legend, while others who are overtly superstitious will stay away.

“It's about a wash,” he said.

“But you really aren't doing us any favors [by writing another story].”

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: October 30. 2012 6:20PM
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