History of the Hotel Jerome
The Hotel Jerome is located on East Main Street in Aspen, Colorado.
It is a brick structure built in the 1880s that is often described
as one of the city's major landmarks, its "crown jewel". In 1986 it
was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is
currently operated by RockResorts; its owner is nominally Jerome
Property LLC pending the outcome of litigation with the city of
Aspen over whether its decision to foreclose on its wholly owned
subsidiary, which had owned the hotel, was in fact a tax dodge.
The hotel was built by Jerome B. Wheeler, at the time co-owner of Macy's and a
major investor in Aspen during its early boom years. Mr. Wheeler wanted the city
to have a hotel that equaled European ones in its refinements and amenities. It
was one of the first buildings west of the Mississippi to have full electric
lighting and it has the only aboveground ballroom in Aspen. It was the only
hotel to remain open through the city's "quiet years" in the early 20th century,
as a family business run by a former bartender and his son that often served as
the town's social center. At one point it was also used as a temporary morgue;
there are claims the building is haunted.
The Ghosts of the Hotel Jerome
Like many other historic hotels, the Jerome is said to be haunted by
ghosts of guests or other persons associated with it in the past.
The most common story involves Room 310, which overlooks the pool.
Supposedly, in 1936, a family staying in that room had a
ten-year-old son, who drowned in the pool. Since then, guests and
employees have sometimes encountered his ghost, known as "water
boy", either in that room or nearby hallways. He appears wet,
wrapped in a towel and shivering, and does not speak. He will
supposedly disappear, leaving behind a trail of wet footprints.
Other supposed hauntings take place on the third floor, to the
extent that many employees reportedly prefer not to work up there.
Among the other ghosts said to haunt the Jerome include Henry
O'Callister and Katie Kerrigan. O'Callister was supposedly a broke
silver prospector who dug up a 1,500-pound silver nugget. With his
new fortune, he moved into the Jerome and fell in love with a Boston
heiress, Clarissa Wellington. The two wanted to marry, but her
father would not give permission. She returned to the East; he
stayed in Aspen heartbroken for the rest of his life and died as
broke as he had been when he found the nugget. His ghost supposedly
wanders the halls, sobbing, some nights.
Kerrigan supposedly began working at the hotel at the age of 16 in
1892. She was an attractive young woman, and many of the wealthy
guests at the hotel took notice, making her coworkers jealous. They
played mean-spirited pranks on her. On one night another maid told
Kerrigan her pet kitten had fallen through the ice on a nearby pond.
Kerrigan went out to save the animal, falling through herself in the
process. She was rescued but died of pneumonia a week later. Current
maids say that sometimes, when they enter a room to turn down the
bedsheets, they find the job already done.
Travel writer Chris Gray Faust reported a similar mysterious
occurrence in her room, which also overlooks the pool, during a 2010
stay. After she returned from an "Aspen Dark Side" evening walking
tour, which focused in part on the Jerome's ghost stories, a friend
she was traveling with who had not been on the tour and left prior
to her asked why she had turned the heat on. She had not, and the
two found as well that the sink was full of soapy water although the
soaps themselves had not been used. They were so scared they left
the television and bathroom light on all night.
330 E Main St
Aspen, CO 81611