Palmer House: Minnesota’s most haunted hotel

The Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre MN is one of the most haunted sites in the state. But what makes the Palmer House Hotel so haunted? The Palmer House Hotel was built back in 1901 to replace a similar building that had burned down. Today, it’s still a hotel, restaurant, and pub. There are paranormal claims going back over fifty years from hotel guests, and staff of the hotel. You might have seen the Palmer House on the following tv shows My Ghost Story, Dead Files, and Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel.

Before the current hotel was built, there was another hotel in the same spot, the old Sauk Centre House. This hotel was the first hotel in Sauk Centre that was built in 1863 but burned down on June 26th, 1900. Ralph and Christena Palmer built the Palmer House in 1901 on the same site as the Sauk Centre House stood. This hotel and the current hotel is located in the heart of the business district. It was a good location for a hotel in the 1900s because it was just a block from the train station so there was access to transportation for guests who were traveling for work. When the Palmer House was built, it was the first building in the city to have electricity which was a big pull for people back in those days. It was known as the city’s “first-class hotel.” This hotel was a place for people to gather for business, social, and even relaxation. The Palmer house had 24 rooms when it was first built but in 1916 the hotel was expanded to 38 rooms. During prohibition, we were told that the owners would sell liquor in the basement. It’s said there were some tunnels in the basement to other buildings around town to help transport liquor without being caught by authorities.

Sinclair Lewis, author of Main Street worked at the Palmer House during the summers modeled his Minniemashire House on the Palmer House. There are some stories that Lewis had a hidden room in the basement where he would hide some of his original writings within the walls. To this date, no one has been able to find those poems. In 1993 the hotel was remodeled to what you see today, a beautiful hotel that has 19 guest rooms with their own bathrooms, stained glass windows throughout the first floor.

Kelley Freese, bought the hotel in 2002 which is the longest time one person has owned the Palmer Hotel. Kelley has restored Palmer back to its roots. When you step into the Palmer House Hotel you feel like you are stepping back in time to when the hotel was built. When you arrive at the hotel you will see a beautiful mural on the side of the parking lot of Sinclair Lewis to pay tribute to the author. Kelley was told by a psychic that stayed in the hotel one day that there were bones hidden in the basement under the stairs. Kelley went digging for those bones, she had found some bones, boxed them up, and then got a phone call and when she came back for the bones, the box was gone. So, the question is where did the bones go and who took them?

Many paranormal investigators while investigating the basement have picked up EVPs, and information regarding the bones but still to this date, no one has found the bones again. I personally have done the Estes method (this is a technique when the investigator has a blindfold over their eyes, headphones on and listening to the spirit box so they can’t hear anyone else in the room, and the other investigators ask questions and the investigator with the blindfold and spirit box will say anything that comes through the box) and have got a lot of responses about the bones in the basement that they are down there needing to be found again.

Now you may be wondering, what makes the Palmer House haunted? Kelley bought the hotel and while working on the hotel before they opened the doors with her husband she had experienced a few odd things but really didn’t think any of it until one local resident told her that the hotel was haunted. There is one documented suicide in the history of the hotel throughout the years of being built. This suicide took place in what we know as the bar today. There have been some deaths in the hotel. So many people have come through the doors of the Palmer House since it opened in 1901 and some decided to stay around.

Mr. Palmer and Mrs. Palmer are known to visit their hotel on a frequent basis. Kelley believes they are just checking to make sure their hotel is still being taken care of all these years later. Some known spirits in the building are Raymond, Annie, and Lucy as well. There are many experiences of a little boy, who is believed to have died from the flu in the hotel that plays with a ball in the hallway or also seen on the 3rd-floor steps. Raymond is more of a grumpy man spirit throughout the hotel. Rooms 11, 17, and 18 are three of the most haunted rooms in the hotel beside the basement. But you can experience activity in any area of the hotel when you visit, even in the pub or the lobby. When you stay in the hotel, at night you may experience sounds of children playing, footsteps in the hallway or in the hotel rooms, shadows, knocking on the walls/floor, or you may hear disembodied voices throughout the hotel when no one else is there. The staff has also experienced activity in the pub and in the dining room throughout the years of silverware/plates and cups moving, seeing apparitions, hearing people talking when no one is around or in the hotel. There are claims of bartenders taking orders for some drinks only to find out when they turn back that person is gone and no one else saw them.

The basement in my personal experience has been the most active location in the hotel. I have heard dogs in the basement when there have been no dogs in the hotel itself. It is known that in the past, they had kept dogs in the basement. I have personally picked up children in the basement as well who want to play with any balls or toys that investigators bring. Many EVPs are caught in the basement along with shadows and hearing of movement.

If you ever get a chance to stay at the Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, do it because you never know what you might experience in the time you are there. The hotel will greet you when you walk in with the most loving energy you have felt. If you don’t experience anything paranormal, you will still have a relaxing experience in their hotel rooms, you will have amazing food cooked by their chefs and have great conversations with the staff and other visitors. If you do experience anything paranormal, remember to write your experiences in the guest experience books in the lobby.


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