written, edited, and produced by Viktor Devonne for 2 Night Stay
performed by Dick Move, Iris Explosion, Seedy Edie, Johnny Caligula, Viktor Devonne, Sarah Tops, and Noctua, with Jack Barrow
engineered and recorded by Dick Move
NARRATOR: The Gilman Hotel is host to a number of unusual situations, both readily available on record and some left to rumor and imagination.
LESLIE DAVENPORT, investigative reporter: I think the first weird happening that was acknowledged by the hotel was how they handled Maitland.
NARRATOR: Calvin Maitland was a businessman from Denton, Ohio who came to the town as per to Tobias Gilman’s request in 1902.
CHARLY VILLAQUEZ, magazine editor: By now, Lionel’s dead. His brother Tobias is running things but you have to remember, the hotel wasn’t the only thing going on for the Gilman family—they have a whole corporation and while Lionel left the major decision making to his brother so he could focus on this new hotel land he’s excited about, he suddenly dies. So now Tobias has to deal with it. And he’s not even living in the state.
LAURA GRIFFITH-KELLY, Gilman Legacy Foundation president: Tobias Gilman shuttled back and forth for the hotel and the headquarters of the masonry business, and their philanthropic work. But when he realized he could not dedicate the time, he found Mr. Calvin Maitland.
NARRATOR: Maitland knew the hotel business, so he was an obvious choice. He previously worked with both Gilman brothers during the construction of his previous properties. Maitland, however, would not live up to the task.
FELIX SCOTT, contributing reporter: In theory, Maitland owned the Gilman starting in 1902, but if you actually look at the property records, he spent almost no money on it. All of the funding still directly came from the Gilman foundation, which at this time is Tobias, and his underlings.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: Calvin Maitland owned the property. There are bank records that show that.
SCOTT: If anyone says there are bank records, they’re lying. The banks on those deeds were not legitimate holding companies. They were essentially DBAs for the Gilman company.
DAVENPORT: Yes, there is the belief that Tobias Gilman sold the hotel to Calvin Maitland but that Maitland used money that was provided to him from the Gilman.
VILLAQUEZ: The point is that Maitland wouldn’t have had that kind of money. by now, the hotel was in massive reconstruction mode, and while the gilman company could expedite that process because they were providing their own workers, their own equipment, and their own materials, they would have had needed to have all that in motion by the time Calvin Maitland ever stepped in. Maitland was just there to make sure the town had someone to check in on.
DAVID HANDLER, author: He was definitely in over his head. he couldn’t have known that he was signing on to own, run, and manage this place and then get sick. he had to leave the building several times to visit doctors because of a severe medical condition.
SCOTT: When Maitland bought the business, he had been evaluated two weeks before he moved to the Gilman to live on-site. there was no record of any mental illness, any psycho logical problems, or any family history of any such thing.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: It is my understanding Mr. Maitland had a degenerative disorder that prevented him from handling the affairs of the hotel. that happens all the time.
NARRATOR: Calvin Maitland left the hotel within 8 months of his arrival. significant work had been done, and he believed he may have inhaled something toxic from the re-construction. the Gilman company at that time jumped at the chance to keep that allegation quiet.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: The hotel was in perfectly fine working order when Mr. Maitland left. there was a competent staff that handled the business while he was away.
NARRATOR: He was “away” getting major medical testing. Maitland land complained of hallucinations, chronic pain, and vision instability as early at 6 months of his time as Gilman’s owner.
Reviewing his case, analyst Dr. Rebecca Mortinelli comments on his state of distress.
DR. REBECCA MORTINELLI, PSYCHOANALYST: Calvin Maitland was diagnosed in 1903 with dementia praecox, which made a lot of sense at the time, but what we now understand was an early term what we would call schizophrenia. However, there are all kinds of mood disorders that Mr. Maitland may have in fact had. Unfortunately, the psychology provided to him not only wasn’t very progressive in terms of the era, but also the facility he visited was very comfortable deciding that he was simply, in a word, crazy.
NARRATOR: Maitland’s agitation was noted by the hotel staff, who contacted Tobias Gilman with concerns. Tobias provided Maitland with a facility that was eventually denounced for unethical practices in 1954.
DR. REBECCA MORTINELLI, PSYCHOANALYST: Mr. Maitland would have been given a number of opiate-related treatments and was instructed to have baths on the grounds, where he would be restrained for hours at a time.
SCOTT: Calvin was viewed as a nuisance. Since Tobias knew he was just there to keep an eye on things and then failed, the company had to somehow get rid of him. They had already made up the idea that this guy owned the hotel, so how can they get it back if he’s still healthy but seeing things he shouldn’t be? Easy- make him crazy. Then suddenly he can’t run the place and you can swoop right in.
NARRATOR: A war between families begins.
HANDLER: What the Gilman company did not plan for was that while Calvin Maitland was relatively passive in his business practices, his family was not. They saw this as opportunity to take over their son’s assets and one of those assets was the hotel.
NARRATOR: Legal arguments would persist, although quietly, for nearly a decade.
DAVENPORT: All the while, the hotel construction is back and forth—things stop, then a lot gets done, and then they have to stop again. The hotel is beginning to lose business because the reputation is starting to depreciate. This promised affordable luxury hotel is delayed.
NARRATOR: However, the hotel begins to become known as a spot for servicemen during World War I, and manages to keep the Gilman afloat.
SCOTT: The question then becomes where is the money going? Why isn’t the Maitland family collecting if they’re the owners? Why is the Gilman company, which y’know, doesn’t own it anymore at all able to claim that it is?
GRIFFITH-KELLY: I’m afraid i’m not able to provider an answer to that. Some documents from the foundation have been deemed eyes-only for the board members.
NARRATOR: With the hotel fully refurnished by 1916, Tobias Gilman settles with the Maitland family privately and once again acquires the hotel. to prevent it from leaving the Gilman family in the instance of his death, the unmarried Tobias Gilman sets up the Gilman legacy foundation.
DAVENPORT: Tobias wanted to make sure the hotel was protected. he’s getting on in years, and after the issues with the Maitland family, he figures the safest way to handle the Gilman properties, which you have to remember, are several – it’s not just the hotel – is to create this foundation which is really all about the legacy of his brother’s acquisitions.
NARRATOR: Tobias Gilman passes in 1923 at the age of 85, and all legal responsibilities for the business are shifted to the Gilman legacy foundation, which seeks out another property manager.
In 1924, a ballroom is renovated to become a local hotspot. It is used for social occasions, including debutante balls, formal dinners, and tea dances. However, two floors beneath it, the hotel is home to a manufacturing plant for illegal liquor, sold to the next door speakeasy.
Clarence “Busby” Merklinley was liaison for the gangland activities that financed the alcohol, which was funneled secretly to Hester’s hat rack. While charming with modern day perceptions, at the time, it was an incredibly dangerous association for the hotel to have.
VILLAQUEZ: The foundation maintains that the crime associations it has with that era are overplayed but there are definitely people who knew that the Gilman was playing house to this underground operation, and that definitely affected the type of clientele suddenly showing up.
NARRATOR: In 1933, the Maitland family attempted a lawsuit against the Gilman legacy foundation one more time, stating the foundation, and the deceased Tobias Gilman, were directly responsible for the poor health of Calvin, who died that year in seclusion.
DAVENPORT: The Maitlands come forward with documentation that explicitly states that Tobias thought something was wrong with the hotel. there is speculation that either mold, or asbestos, or something highly toxic was used in the building materials that made Calvin Maitland sick. The hotel of course, while it has the initial structure on the first two floors, has been completely gutted and added to for the final setup. Tests are done, and they can’t find anything in the walls, the water, the floors. The Maitlands contend that the materials that the Gilman foundation used were covered up or destroyed during that reconstruction.
SCOTT: The Maitlands lose their case. and disappear. Like legit, disappear. They close up shop, families go missing, they’re just gone. Notorious crime leader busby Merkinley’s still a friend of the hotel though. Just saying.
NARRATOR: Shortly after the lawsuit is dismissed, the Gilman legacy foundation put john D. Cleveland in charge. due to his political affiliations, Cleveland sets up a series of political fundraisers, which the Persephone ballroom becomes known for.
VILLAQUEZ: Cleveland lasts five years. on the record, it’s bad investments. He dies in ’39 when he shoots himself in the hotel. Upon inspection, he has no money, no prospects, and basically was living off the hotel’s kitchen. There’s no explanation. It takes five years for anyone to even find out he shot himself in the hotel.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: Oh, I don’t know if all that’s necessary to get into.
SCOTT: Why are all these single men buying a stake in this place only to die and have no one in their family be able to follow up?
NARRATOR: Officially, Cleveland is pronounced dead at the hospital, but the foundation denies initially that he shot himself, or that he died at the hotel.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: Officially, as I understand it, and you have to understand, this was almost 100 years ago, Mr. Cleveland did in fact decide to end his life while living at the Gilman. He was declared by the foundation as am embezzler. He spent all of his own money on womanizing, gambling, and other behavior that they denounced.
NARRATOR: The foundation managed to keep Cleveland’s death out of the papers for nearly a week and then, when reported, the media and the public were told that Cleveland’s death was not on-site, and was due to his own bad habits.
DAVENPORT: By the time anyone even admitted he died at the hotel, who cared, we are in the middle of World War II. Whoever needed to get paid off, kept their word. I think the only reason they admitted it is because someone decided to investigate on their own. no one in the police was checking up.
NARRATOR: So began the first findings of an anti-Gilman sentiment that would very quietly grow over the years.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: People are afraid of successful people.
NARRATOR: What is now known as the #gilmantruth movement, which maintains that the foundation has engaged in immoral behavior, it was through the investigation of Margaret Henniford that Cleveland’s on-site death was confirmed, if overlooked by the general public.
VILLAQUEZ: The hotel’s in full swing, and in 1943, the Abrams brothers take it on. they actually buy the hotel.
NARRATOR: Members of the Gilman Legacy Foundation, Ethan and Joshua Abrams purchase a stake in the hotel with permission to make improvements, and potentially find another outside seller.
SCOTT: Once again… Two brothers. No kids, no wives. No other kin but each other. So if they end up chopped up in the basement, no one’s missing them.
NARRATOR: The brothers indeed ended their time with the hotel due to tragedy in 1954, but not their own. Coming up on Historical Record: Secrets and Skeletons…
DAVENPORT: People are bloody, scrambling down the stairs screaming, running out on the streets, expecting to the see the end of the world–
NARRATOR: And later,
HESPERWOLF, spiritualist: I was brought in to connect with the spirits of the hotel.
HANDLER: I wouldn’t exactly call her famous.
VILLAQUEZ: They sold their soul. They were a vampire.
SCOTT: Another one gone. No one investigates the hotel.
NARRATOR: … on Historical Record: Secrets and Skeletons.