It may have been the only fire-proof hotel in the city when it opened in 1905, but the Seelbach Hilton Hotel at 500 S. 4th St. sure wasn’t ghost-proof.
It was recently named one of the 27 Most Haunted Hotels in America, so we’re highlighting three chilling things about this local institution — whose 117-year history has seen nine presidents, 14 GRAMMY-winning musicians + one duchess in its Beaux Arts Baroque grandeur.
Lady in Blue
Perhaps the most famous Seelbach ghost is the Lady in Blue — aka 24-year-old Patricia Wilson. Patricia jumped to her death in July of 1936 down the hotel’s number three elevator shaft wearing a long, blue chiffon dress after her ex-husband was killed in a car accident on his way to meet her at the hotel. Her ghostly calling card is the scent of lilac perfume. Visitors say they’ve felt a presence in the elevator touching their shoulder. Read an alternative theory about her death.
Al Capone, the notorious Prohibition-era gangster, frequented the Seelbach for blackjack and poker, which he typically enjoyed in The Oakroom. Capone even had a giant mirror installed in the room (that still stands today) so he could “watch his back” while playing cards. But bootleggers gotta bootleg, and Capone used tunnels connected to the hotel to evade police. See the remnants of the tiny passage he used + watch the full “Secrets of the Underground” episode on Capone to learn more.
Built in 1907, not long after the hotel first opened, this subterranean room isn’t principally known for its haunted past, but its archaic spookiness is felt in its Gothic design elements. Now an events venue, The Rathskellar is the world’s only room made from Rookwood Pottery — and its designs were hand drawn on the soft clay before firing. Other ornamentation includes depictions of all 12 zodiac signs + ominous pelicans, which could be a symbol of death.