A stately gentleman floats from room to room of the home he constructed decades ago. A scorned woman wails invisibly down hallways. A little girl roams cavernous depths in the dark of night.
Some local residents may have only a passing familiarity with the historical Mineral Springs Hotel in downtown Alton. Looking at the hotel’s stately exterior or the majestic shadow thrown onto Alby Street by the McPike Mansion, it’s easy to take lightly the stories of hauntings and paranormal activity. But exploring eerie upper hallways and dark sub-basement areas firsthand gives visitors a palpable feeling for the chilling and curious histories and mysteries. Together, they are known nationally as two of the most haunted locations in the country.
On Saturday evening, Jan. 12, the Travel Channel paranormal series “Ghost Adventures” will broadcast an episode focusing on the hotel, along with discoveries a crew made while investigating the property.
Last weekend’s episode featured the McPike Mansion.
Dave and Donna Nunnally are owners of several businesses operating out of the Mineral Springs Hotel’s first floor. They were instrumental in getting the TV series to do the episodes.
“I would say I shepherded the project, but there were a lot of people involved in making it happen,” Dave says.
The hotel’s first floor has been renovated and contains numerous businesses, including New Age metaphysical store It’s Raining Zen, the Indigo Moon boutique, and the Mississippi Hippie clothing store, all run by the Nunnallys.
“We call it coexisting, which means we support all faiths,” Donna says.
The Nunnallys are strong advocates for local small businesses and emphasize they purchase locally and use local enterprises for services for their business needs whenever they can.
The hotel also features a number of other businesses as well as a ballroom available for rental for social and business events on its ground floor.
Walking into the first-floor area is a stimulating sensory experience with vibrant colors, the smell of incense and the sound of music from various cultures combining to create a captivating atmosphere.
“If a venture is just about you, it’s going to fail,” Donna says. “If it’s about the community and everyone comes together, then it becomes a success.”
The hotel opened in 1914. It was a spectacular setting, boasting 100 elegant rooms and hosting some of the country’s elite personages during its time. After decades of prominence, its glory gradually faded and the doors closed in 1971.
During its existence, numerous mysterious or unexplained deaths and other events occurred on the premises, and the spirits of people involved with them are those said to haunt it today, including the Jasmine Lady, the suicide of a lady named Pearl, a mysterious drowning victim, and the ghost of a little girl named Cassie, who enjoyed her stay at the hotel and is said to have returned to the building after her death, currently inhabiting the pool area.
The original hotel builders ran a nearby stockyard. Dave explains the sub-basement contains what was originally a slaughterhouse for the stockyard. He says the murky, catacomb-like chamber buried in the deepest recesses of the building is one of the most haunted places in the structure. For those reticent in their beliefs about the paranormal, a visit to the dark, deteriorated remains of the slaughterhouse could cause them to reconsider their opinions.
The McPike Mansion, completed in 1871, is a 16-room behemoth that still stands, although dilapidated, high above the downtown area in Alton. The current owners continue a long-range goal of renovations, and tours are offered each year where guests can learn more about abundant apparition sightings, strange photographs and other supernatural phenomenon said to occur there on a regular basis.
This weekend’s “Ghost Adventures” episode will explore the history of the hotel as well as stories of hauntings and any evidence of the supernatural discovered during their crew’s visit. Reenactments will be included of some of the more notable events that supposedly occurred.
The television crew filmed at McPike and Mineral Springs for one week last year and involved the community as much as possible.
“They did everything they could to patronize local businesses and recruit local community members for jobs like the portrayals the broadcast will contain,” Dave says.
“Ghost Adventures,” in its 17th season, is one of the highest-rated paranormal investigation shows on the air and offers a combination history lesson and late-night investigation of reputedly haunted locations throughout the country.
The Travel Channel will air an encore presentation of the McPike Mansion episode at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, followed by the premiere of the episode featuring the Mineral Springs Hotel at 8 p.m., the episodes collectively known as the “Curse of the Riverbend.”