Going on a Patreon Adventure: The Story of the Hotel del Coronado
Going on a Patreon Adventure is a series where the topic is decided by my Patrons over on Patreon. Once a month I add an extra post to my schedule, and it could be about anything.
Greetings friends and Happy Halloween! It’s my literal favorite day of the year, and I am celebrating the day watching horror movies and trying to finish one more book before the month ends. I am sad that spooky season is ending, but I am spooky 24/7/365.
This month my patrons voted for me to talk about the haunted Hotel del Coronado and my experiences when I worked there in 2006. The Hotel Del has long since been one of my favorite places in San Diego because of its Victorian architecture, but it got infinitely cooler when I learned it was haunted. All photos in this post were taken by me.
The History of the Hotel del Coronado
San Diego is a city and county with a lot of history, but in my opinion nothing is as special and unique as the Hotel del Coronado. You see, we have lots of historic landmarks here. But I was always drawn to the Victorian architectural style… and that is rare in California.
Built in 1888 on Coronado Island, the Del cost about $1,000,000 to build and completely furnish. Interestingly, the Del was also an early adopter of new technologies: steam-powered hydraulic elevators (among the first in the country and still operating to this day), telephone service, and is regarded to be one of the largest buildings in the country to run electricity.
Working there, I learned and had access to areas not available to the public. Such as the giant tunnels that run under the parking lot into the hotel itself with all the electrical. The coolest part is you would enter the main hotel via a secret doorway in the walls of the hotel! I used to loved using the tunnels to get to lunch and freak out guests.
The Story of Kate Morgan
The story of Kate Morgan is one shrouded in mystery. She checked in on Thanksgiving Day under the name Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard from Detroit with nothing but a small handbag. She was alone and it was reported that she largely kept to herself. Five days later she was found dead from a gunshot wound on the veranda overlooking the ocean.
cw: mention of suicide in this section
Her death was reported as a suicide, and the coroner ruled the gun shot to be self-inflicted. She looked ill and had told the housekeeper that she was dying from cancer, so the authorities quickly ruled it a suicide and moved on.
But there is far from a consensus on this. Why did she check into the hotel under a false name? Why did she buy that handgun across the bay a couple of days before her death? (Reportedly it was to be a gift.) Why did her brother never arrive?
Want to read more? Check out Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel Del Coronado by the Hotel del Coronado Heritage Department.
The Ghost of Kate Morgan
Regardless of how her life came to an end, it is said that her spirit is still a guest at the Del. In fact, she seems to still occupy the room she briefly stayed in: room 3327. There are reports of electronics turning on or off and inexplainable breezes in the room itself, and the guest shops often report items flying off the shelves.
“She generally limits her activity to fleeting appearances and inexplainable antics… Guests in Kate’s room report everything from breezes that come from nowhere to having to deal with a television set that turns on and off by itself.”
The room is the most requested for the hotel, and bookings for Halloween night are made years in advance. It’s an unassuming Victorian room, small with a view of a dumpster if memory serves. But it has charm, as do all of the rooms in the Victorian building.
My Experience in the Kate Morgan Room
New employees are taught the history of the Del, and get to go on a tour of the hotel. I was working in room reservations, so it was especially important to be able to see each of the room types to describe them over the phone.
My supervisor took me on a tour of rooms, but she didn’t tell me that we would be visiting Kate’s room. Before we even entered the room, I felt something. It is hard to explain, especially 13 years later, but I remember a quickening of my heartbeat for no reason. I didn’t know which room was Kate’s, so there was no way that some placebo effect of expecting ghosts was going on.
Walking into the room, the feeling didn’t not go away. The bathroom is to the immediate right when you walk in… and the light was on, the hairdryer was plugged in, and there was a rumpled towel on the counter. The room was unoccupied and housekeeping should have already been through it at that point, especially since the rest of the room was made up.
I worked at the Del for about a year or so, and this was my only experience that left me a little ruffled. I know this pales in comparison to my ghostly experience in the Edinburgh Vaults, but I have always found the story of Kate Morgan to be so interesting. And honestly, this “experience” is the only one other than when I was in Scotland.
I do want to stay in the room some day, though. And now that I’ve moved back to San Diego, I can stay in her room… and visit some of the other haunted places!
– “1892 Death in Coronado,” San Diego Union Tribune archives, 30 November 1892
– “Ghost Story: Solving a Hotel Del Legend Becomes an Obsession,” LA Times archives, 17 December 1989
Thank you so much to my Patrons for supporting me and my content! I hope you enjoy this month’s post and I can’t wait to see what you all choose for September.
If you would like to support my work for as little as $2 per month, check out my Patreon!
Have you ever experienced the supernatural? Something you can’t explain? What are some local ghost stories for you? Let’s chat in the comments!