NARRATOR: As the 80s came to a close, the Gilman managed a lower profile until a change at the Gilman Legacy Foundation’s headquarters initiated the hotel’s more friendly image as a tourist attraction for some of the seedier happenings.
LESLIE DAVENPORT, investigative reporter:They saw an opportunity and when cable documentaries about haunted locations started popping up, they decided to take all the calls.
NARRATOR: Credit for that decision appears to go to Howard Campbell, who left foundation in 2012. Campbell decided to monetize the salacious nature of the hotel and find a way for visitors from all over learn about its sordid past.
In fall of 2011, Campbell brought on spiritualist Brad “Hesperwolf” Maguire for a special publicity tour in time for Halloween, where guests could tour the still active hotel and see some of the sights, including an All Hallow’s eve rave in the Persephone Ballroom, restored to resemble its original appearance.
HESPERWOLF, spiritualist: I understand it is typical of the human mind to hide from the spiritual, from the glister, as I call it. When you walk into the room, and there’s a light that you see that you just cannot place, that is what i know as the glister. Sometimes it disappears just as soon as it appears. But you must always keep watch for it, for if it appears, it wants to be seen. It wants you to see it.
NARRATOR: Controversial talk show mainstay and best selling author Hesperwolf was contacted by the Gilman Legacy Foundation privately first.
HESPERWOLF, spiritualist: I first had a dream in 2006 that i would receive a call from mr. campbell and walk with him in the hallways of this hotel. We were surrounded by energy, a rush of power and sadness and beauty and a singular need, a desperate need to be heard. I knew when the phone rang who he was. I knew why he was calling. I was brought in to connect with the spirits of the hotel.
NARRATOR: Hesperwolf maintains he never read any material on the Gilman before he entered, but instead “downloaded” it mentally upon his arrival.
HESPERWOLF, spiritualist: When you have a connection with the glister, or with whatever force draws you in, you need to have more than an open mind. You need to have forgiveness in yourself. If you walk into any space already feeling that you have made mistakes, or are struggling to do the right thing, the wrong forces can feel that, can see that, hear that in you. You’re blaring insecurity as you walk by these doors. You have to know you are human, you make mistakes, you amend, you promise to do better. And with an open heart and mind, you can see what is beyond you.
NARRATOR: Hesperwolf, due to contract obligations with the Gilman Legacy Foundation, cannot go into specifics with what he sees, beyond what is already readily available via the historical society. He, and the Foundation, went through multiple discussions for what to make public, for as he says, the ghosts of the past never gave the living permission to pry.
Intending to continue tours, and eventually write a book or collaborate on a series, Hesperwolf was stonewalled by policies, and a shift in priorities when Gilman Legacy Foundation appointed a new president, Laura Griffith-Kelly, who put the kabosh on any such publicity.
LAURA GRIFFITH-KELLY, Gilman Legacy Foundation president: The choices that were made by my predecessor were of course governed with the respect that the Gilman legacy foundation has always hoped to employ. However, since I have taken over, I am of the opinion that our culture is ready again to experience the true beauty of the Gilman for what it is, and will be. And I think it’s time to restore some of the initial dignity that implies. We aren’t looking to erase history, or forget what has come. But it’s important to remember what Lionel and Tobias Gilman always wanted: to provide a home for those away from home.
NARRATOR: And indeed, that will continue to be the legacy of the Gilman… in addition to all that other stuff.
HESPERWOLF, spiritualist: While Ms. Griffith-Kelly and I do not see eye to eye, and I am bound by the earthly contract of signatures, the truth of the glister cannot be bound by human law. I am still visited by the beings in that hotel, I still know their names, and I urge her, and the foundation to let their stories be heard. I know for a fact that it is haunted. And haunted in such a way that calls out it needs to be free.
NARRATOR: One saving grace Hesperwolf may find in all of this, is it’s too late to turn back for the Foundation on its initial admission of the activities on the grounds, or what it agreed to state as fact when it was granted Historical Haunted Landmark status, which provides grants and funding for, as yet, limited seasonal events and recognition from Griffith-Kelly in time for the trick-or-treaters and ghost storytellers. The Gilman All Hallow’s Eve ball is an annual event that features ghouls, goblins, and tasteful recollections of some of the more devastating occurrences.
CHARLY VILLAQUEZ, magazine editor: Serial killers. Rock star overdoses. Arsonists. A republican fundraiser. The Gilman saw it all. And it sees it all.
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: Ethan and Joshua Abrams have continued success with the Gilman Hotel in the 40s, enjoying a boost from the war, and the town’s advancements in industry.
LESLIE DAVENPORT, investigative reporter: The Gilman Legacy Foundation has continued to make money, CEO after CEO, and they’re really splitting their time between philanthropic, good for press type work, and also this hotel which, while cute and all, why do they care so much?
LAURA GRIFFITH-KELLY, Gilman Legacy Foundation president: The Gilman Hotel remains one of the foundation’s main priorities because it was a priority of our original figurehead, Lionel Gilman. It is not a pet project, it is a continuation of one of his great visions: a place to call home when you are away from home. The Gilman Legacy Foundation, and I, understand this principle.
CHARLY VILLAQUEZ, magazine editor: It does seem a little odd and I think they welcomed the chance to have the Abrams just handle things for a while. They are well-to-do bachelors, with Joshua known for his work in the shipping industry, and Ethan who has a very successful home renovation and decorating empire. These are smart, shrewd, capable men and history has chosen to sort of rewrite their contributions to these eccentric millionaires who bought a hotel for a lark and ditched it as soon as disaster struck.
NARRATOR: One of the first things that they lost was a friend. One of the longterm guests of the hotel, Natalie May Dashett helped create a series of radio jingles that welcomed sailors, families, and newlyweds to the location.
They really were enterprising in their marketing; they wanted it to be a destination hotel. And they succeeded.
Dashett would eventually abandon them, leaving an alleged tab, and a hole in their trust.
DAVID HANDLER, author: She was a Hollywood actress who got in trouble with the studio. I wouldn’t exactly call her famous. When she saw her chance to leave, she took it.
NARRATOR: While the Gilman Legacy Foundation counts Natalie May Dashett as one of their hall of fame guests due to her success in radio and a burgeoning film career, her absence also left questions.
FELIX SCOTT, contributing reporter: She disappears. No trace. Another one gone. And No one cares. No one questions it. No one investigates the hotel.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: Miss Dashett was a prized guest at the hotel. I have heard the stories about her, but as far as the foundation is concerned, she was a friend of the Gilman, and she left due to personal family reasons. The film industry wasn’t for her, the business wasn’t for her. We certainly aren’t going to fault her for that, and I consider her debt to the hotel, if any, paid in full due to her work with us.
DAVENPORT: Natalie leaving upset the brothers. In Ethan’s diary, he called it a massive betrayal.
NARRATOR: Ethan Abrams’ diary, which was published in the 80s, is set to be republished next year with more information about his time as owner of the Gilman. Much of the original text was excised from the first printing, and assumed meddling of the Gilman Legacy Foundation.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: I don’t know anything about that.
NARRATOR: The diary gives one of the few glimpses of a horrific evening in 1954. While neither Abrams brother was on location, Ethan discusses the aftermath and trauma of on December 6th. It was the date of mayor-elect Lucas Byron’s inauguration celebration.
News from home shook me to my core. I leave for the hotel tomorrow morning. The entire second floor ballroom has been nearly snapped in half, with patrons of Byron’s party falling to the lobby floor. I have been informed that nearly all of them are dead. Joshua is chartering a plane from Switzerland, but I will likely be there before him. I cannot imagine setting foot on such a sight. William likely crushed. Devastated.
NARRATOR: The William that Abrams wrote of, identified in other passages of the diary as his lover, was in fact killed in the disaster. One of the rotating head waiters of the hotel’s restaurant staff hired, William Fenton was working the party when a tremor brought the second floor to a screeching halt.
HANDLER: The structure beneath the ballroom floor gave way. It happened in such a way where reports indicate it was an earthquake or some sort of gasline explosion, but it was centralized to that single room. No other floor was affected; in fact no other part of the second floor was affected. It is weird. I’ll give you that.
NARRATOR: In later examinations, and studies done by structural engineers and analysts, the exact way the ballroom cracked and shattered is physically impossible, and despite all efforts to explain, the Abrams were left with an insurance nightmare. The Gilman Legacy Foundation representatives stepped in and handled many lawsuits quietly, and when someone attempted to goad the press into sensationalism, their complaints would go quiet almost as quickly.
From the diary of Ethan Abrams:
The building stands. I expected that I would come to rubble. One is able to quite comfortably get around, despite the wreckage. The ballroom has been fractured, creating small islands, preserved by the beams of the hotel. Guests in the middle of their waltz given an unholy end to their evening.
NARRATOR: The number given to the press and public is that of 214 souls lost. This comprised nearly two dozen service people who were staffed for the event and were in the ballroom at the time, or in the lobby and affected by the debris and victims falling from the ballroom above. Other guests and service people who were just outside of the room on the same floor, or in the kitchen quarters, were unaffected, and in fact only heard the commotion and panic of the guests who survived, not the incident itself that caused the disaster.
DAVENPORT: It’s a panic. The bellhops are seeing the sky fall down. People are bloody, scrambling down the stairs screaming, running out on the streets, expecting to the see the end of the world, but everyone else is fine. They assume it must either be a gas explosion or it’s an earthquake, or something that everyone else is experiencing. But no one else is. Just the Persephone Ballroom.
NARRATOR: The disaster gives signs of both and implosion and an explosion, with the floor ripped in twisted gashes, like vines.
VILLAQUEZ: One major figure however isn’t in the ballroom, but he is included in the tally of 214. The mayor-elect, himself, Lucas Byron was found dead in his bedroom with a woman not his wife. They’re in bed, and they look like they’ve been in an earthquake.
SCOTT: The rest of the hotel is unaffected. The walls are fine. Not a single guest knew anything happened until they heard the screams from the ballroom. No one on that floor even heard it happen. How did someone on the sixth floor, in fact two someones, have injuries from the tremor when no one else did. And if they were in the ballroom when it happened, how did they get to the sixth floor penthouse, take off all their clothes, and still get in the mood to (bleep) until they succumbed to their injuries?
NARRATOR: The mayor’s wife, Verna, survived the accident by nature of her being on the second floor terrace with other guests of the hotel.
VILLAQUEZ: Story goes that Verna Byron didn’t even run back in when the guests were screaming. Everyone who was with her did, but she stayed on the terrace. The police happened upon her; she has just stayed sitting on a bench while all hell was breaking loose and the other guests were coming out of their rooms to find out what happened.
NARRATOR: Dr. Rebecca Mortinelli–
DR. REBECCA MORTINELLI, PSYCHOANALYST: Shock can come in many forms. What was probably happening in Verna Byron, although I have not studied any doctor’s records on her, may have been a temporary paralysis that prevented her from getting up. Knowing her husband, her friends, she could not face it.
NARRATOR: The Abrams would leave the Gilman the following year, with the suggestion it heavily affected their relationship. Ethan would go to Chicago and Joshua would relocate to Europe, constantly on the move. Within the decade, the legal aspects of the accident would be all but a memory and the hotel acknowledged those lost with a solemn memorial when the ballroom was refinished.
VILLAQUEZ: The inspection on that ballroom floor probably took at least five different independent companies.
NARRATOR: More hits would continue. The press coverage was overwhelming but the guest registry was bleak. Longterm guests would move out, saying they could hear the accident in their sleep, despite not having heard it when it happened.
During one of its frequent dry spells, in 1975, three young broke into the construction site of the Lucretia Coridor, located on the 5th floor and temporarily blocked off.
DAVENPORT: One of the tenants of the Gilman Legacy Foundation is that the hotel is kept in consistent working order. The Lucretia Corridor was shut down for almost four months in the winter of 1974 into 1975. The guest list was still pretty low so it was low priority. The lights were going out all over the floor, issues with the pipes, and there was no active property manager. So it was days before a maid discovered them.
NARRATOR: Three unrelated young men between the ages of 19 and 23, were found with gas tanks and matches, with the consensus made by the police department that they were there to burn down a portion, or all of the Gilman hotel for unknown reasons. Despite one major scorch mark on one wall, the rest of the hall was untouched, and the floor, despite being coated in gasoline did not ignite.
SCOTT: These kids weren’t known by the hotel staff as guests, and they somehow get in with gas tanks, all the way to the fifth floor, unnoticed, or let in by an employee. But instead of torching the place, they decide to burn it only a little bit and then hang themselves altogether in a dark hallway with rope they apparently decided to also bring. for kicks. because why?
NARRATOR: The police ruled it a joint suicide, with the intent that they would hang themselves as the fire caught on, but it failed to. One of the young men, Anthony Martinez, was the son of Carolyn Maitland-Scheer, grandniece of the ill-fated Calvin Maitland, who dubiously owned the hotel in the 20s. She maintains she has no idea why her son was at the hotel that evening, and declined to participate in this program, except with the following written statement:
The Gilman Hotel remains a subject of pain for my family. I have no interest in continuing to revisit old wounds, but know this: my son Anthony had never been told about the hotel, never been brought to the hotel, or lived fewer than 20 miles from the hotel, ever. I continue to relive the pain of the last decision he ever made. While he was drawn to that location with his friends, he had no malice in his heart.
NARRATOR: Mrs. Maitland-Scheer declined to sue the Gilman Legacy Foundation for the accident, despite rumors she met with attorneys.
In the midst of a Hollywood love affair of haunted house books and poltergeist blockblusters, the Gilman received notoriety for its alleged connection to the supernatural, and what was widely referred to as the ghost of Denise Schonheit.
The hotel received a bump in interest when serial killer Edgar Corbin turned himself into authorities in 1982, having stayed at the Gilman off and on for two years, and chose his victims in the area while he stayed there.
DAVENPORT: So Corbin says he used the hotel as a cover, somewhere to stay when he was looking up people to kill. The Gilman legacy foundation tries to cover up that he was staying there, but he came to the police station; he said what he did, how he did it, where to find them, and what room he was in so the cops can find his stuff.
NARRATOR:Via Corbin’s official police statement,
WhenI was sitting in my room, I would shake and cry. I wanted to stop. I knew I had to stop. But I kept going out and finding them. I was afraid to stop. But I heard her. I heard her voice and she would say to me, “Don’t hurt them anymore.” And I saw her. I saw the true face of innocence. I cried. I knew I could never hurt anyone else ever again. Because she would know.
NARRATOR: Corbin, who confessed to the murder of 7 people, was not even on the suspect list of authorities, and led them to his stash of trophies taken from his victims, which was left at the Gilman. The Gilman Legacy Foundation lodged a formal complaint against the TV network BloodstainD for its heavily fictionalized TV movie featuring a serial killer fitting Corbin’s description being a ghost in the hotel he used to scout victims. Corbin in fact did not die at the Gilman; he died in prison in 2004, and while Corbin was forthcoming to the details of his murders, it is unclear if he ever killed anyone at the hotel itself.
Also in 1982, and presumably unbeknownst to Corbin, proto-darkwave and synth-metal band The Last Boys holed up in the hotel for weeks at a time, writing and recording the demos of what would become their first album.
After achieving considerable success at home and abroad, the Last Boys would become most known for its connection to the Gilman, when lead singer Requiem was found dead of a purported overdose, several years after their initial booking.
VILLAQUEZ: Requiem became known for their shock rock antics. They played into the “Hail Satan” trends of the 80s, courting opinion that they sold their soul, that they were a vampire–
DAVENPORT: In 1986, the hotel stops accepting new guests except for the longterm residents—basically people using the hotel as an apartment building, which it got into the habit of doing because it wasn’t making a lot of money except in longterm guests, or 1 night… or 1 hour guests…
GRIFFITH-KELLY: The Gilman Hotel was never closed to guests in the 1980s. This is a story that persists despite the foundation’s insistence.
SCOTT: They were shut down for health code violations. It’s a verifiable fact.
GRIFFITH-KELLY: I’m sorry; I don’t know anything about that.
VILLAQUEZ: February 15th, 1986. Requiem is staying there. They quit the band, they quit the tour. One night they get ahold of some bad smack and the next day, the headlines say “Rockstar Dead.”
GRIFFITH-KELLY: I would also like to make sure we mention that in 1982, the Gilman Legacy Foundation helped sponsor the productions at the Diamond Pond Community Playhouse.
NARRATOR: Coming up,
DAVENPORT: They saw an opportunity–
GRIFFITH-KELLY: We aren’t looking to erase history–
HESPERWOLF, spiritualist: I knew when the phone rang who he was. I knew why he was calling.
NARRATOR: … when we return to Historical Record: Secrets and Skeletons.
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.