For a time back in 1929 Route 66 or the “Super Highway to the West” would take you right down the center of Williams, Arizona. But it was the very last section of the historic highway to give way to I-40 (with the stipulation of three off-ramps).
Also known as the ‘Gateway to the Grand Canyon’, Williams is steeped in American history and awash in visual delights with an extensive amount of attractions for tourists of all ages. You might figure by now what attracted me of course: A haunted building called the Red Garter Bed and Bakery! How could I resist a steaming cup of robust coffee, a sweet roll and a ghost story?
As the name might suggest, it was (to be fair) among other things, a bordello. Well, it was legal until 1907 in the state of Arizona and only half-heartedly enforced for many years after that. Meanwhile there were two rooms in the back where Chinese railroad workers lived and reportedly operated a chophouse and opium den inciting constant investigations by the sheriff, who, while being unable to account for missing workers, never found anything out of the ordinary.
Until 1940, when the brutal murder of a disruptive client occurred on the uncommonly steep stairs (called the ‘Cowboy’s Endurance Test) leading to the rooms on the second floor. A citywide crackdown ensued which led to the closure of the Bordello/Saloon after forty years of operation.
The Red Garter was operated for a great many of those forty years by a notable U.S. Cavalry Scout from New Mexico by the name of Longino Mora, who became legendary for having five wives and twenty-five kids over the years! Creepin’ granny pants! Can you believe his oldest child was sixty when the youngest was born?
Over the next couple of decades the building was home to a variety of businesses though nothing seemed to stick until owner John Holt made just the right renovations and upgrades; effectively transforming a once tawdry image and tarnished reputation into a charming, respectable establishment while maintaining the majestic twelve-foot ceilings and antique furnishings that exemplify the 1890 ambiance and haunting mystique that keeps those little neck hairs waving!
Since it’s reopening in 1994 as the Red Garter Bed and Bakery, staff and guests alike began reporting mysterious sights and sounds—day or night—and naturally attributed it to perhaps any of the many missing Chinese railroad workers or the murder on the stairs. More than one guest described simply a ‘feeling’ of someone else in the room, while others declare they’ve seen and even made contact with an Hispanic girl with long dark hair who wears a white nightgown and says her name is Eva.
By far the most compelling phenomena is a 1934 photograph (which John Holt proudly displays upon request) of an unsmiling Longino Mora, along with his fifth wife and a young daughter; all seemingly unaware of an Hispanic girl standing behind the counter, smiling broadly before a mirror she is not reflected in.
How are those little neck hairs doing now? Certainly gives me a little pause. Does this sound like a place you’d enjoy an evening at? I always keep a camera handy, though twice I’ve been so entranced I totally forgot to use it! Would you be able to snap a picture of a ghost?
The Red Garter is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is well-known for delicious coffee and mouthwatering pastries, and now boasts a full-service restaurant!