Podcast: Congress Hotel

This is the transcript and sources for the podcast that just dropped this morning on Paranormal Housewife Podcast. You can listen to it on any streaming service you listen to your podcasts on. Please subscribe to my show to be alerted to when new episodes drop. Please let me know in comments what you thought about today’s episode! 

Hi! Hello! And welcome back to another spooky episode of Paranormal Housewife Podcast! My name is Kelly and I am so happy to announce that this is the season finale! I can’t believe how quickly this first has gone. This experience has been amazing and I am so overjoyed that you have joined me this adventure. I have already started working on season two of Paranormal Housewife Podcast. I have some really interesting topics planned but still have plenty of room on my calender if you have a suggestion or a story you would share. I would love to start featuring some your own experiences and stories if you would like to share them. You can send those to kelly@paranormalhousewife.com or direct message me on any of my social media pages. 

I do have a few updates for y’all about the Stillwagon Household. We have invested in some security camera that we have set up around the house to try and capture some of the activity going on. We have two cameras set on the downstairs hall closet door (one from each end of the hallway) and that is the most frustrating part. I will get probably one hundred notifications a day from us or the animals trigger the motion detection but the cameras don’t turn on when closet opens!!! We have also put a camera up in the attic space of our townhome. Our hope is to show what is causing the walking noises we hear every single night. We still don’t have any neighbors living beside us. That allows us to rule out them causing the noises by walking around on their side of the wall. 

I have officially started doing the paranormal tour guide gig and I absolutely love it. So far my groups have experienced stuff on the tours. One night a woman was able to capture the image of a little girl in the kitchen window of the Whaley House. Also that evening, a woman had her butt pinched in the cemetery near where I warned them that a spirit likes to pinch ladies’ butts. The next night I had an amazing group come out. We had a blast walking around Old Town learning about the history and the hauntings that are there. The teens on the tour were really sweet and left a heart made of change on Yankee Jim’s grave. The gentleman on the tour told me an interesting quote that I would love to share with you. Giles said that according to Mexican folklore, people die three times. Once when your heart stops, once when they bury you in the ground, and once when everyone forgets about you. I really love this job and love having another way to share the paranormal with folks. Its also a way to keep someone folks from dying a third time by keeping their stories and histories alive. 

With all that being said, perhaps we should dive into today’s topic. While all topics I discuss on here and on my blog are interesting to me, today’s topic is one that has really intrigued me. I was suppose to go stay at this location back in 2019 when I visited Chicago with a friend of mine but he wasn’t into the paranormal as much as I am. So he insisted we stay at a different hotel. I planned to go back another time to Chicago but then Covid struck and I never got the chance to go back. What hotel am I talking about? Well, the Congress Hotel- quite possibly the most haunted location in Chicago. I do want to warn any listener who may be sensitive to this topic, there is a lot deaths mentioned in this podcast. 

The Congress Hotel was originally built as the Auditorium Annex in 1893. It was built by hotel designer R. H. Southgate and designed to complement Louis Sullivan’s Auditorium Building which housed a hotel, theater, and office complex. It was opened in time for the World Columbia Exposition that was to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus “discovering” America. Yes I was using air quotes when saying discovering. The hotel was designed to be extremely luxurious and to attract a certain type of clientele. In fact the Gold Room would be the first hotel ballroom in Chicago to be air conditioned. The Auditorium Annex was renamed to Congress Hotel in 1911 to differentiate from the Louis Sullivan’s Auditorium Building. During World War Two, the United States Government purchased the hotel to use as a headquarters for United States Army Officers. Once the war over in 1945, a group of Chicagoans purchased the hotel back from the government and reopened it to the public. 

With as beautiful as the hotel is, the hotel has a very dark past. Many claim the hotel to be cursed due to the amount deaths reported on the property throughout it’s history. Especially when a majority of those deaths were suicides. These deaths would begin very early in the hotel’s history. When the hotel was just seven years old, Captain Louis Ostheim checked into the hotel. He was staying in the hotel until his wedding on April 9th, 1900. Captain Ostheim was a veteran of the Spanish American War. Unfortunately, Captain Ostheim suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and night terrors. On April 8th, 1900, the night before his wedding, Captain Ostheim for whatever reason, decided that he couldn’t continue living anymore. That evening, Captain Ostheim pulled out his gun and shot himself. 

But this was just the beginning of the all the deaths that would happen in this hotel. In 1904 an elevator operator was distracted when entering an elevator and failed to see that the elevator wasn’t actually there. This caused the elevator operator to fall seventy feet down the elevator shaft to their death. Four years later, in 1908, Roy Gormly, a guest at the hotel, paid the hotel’s orchestra $500 to play George Handel’s Dead March. Then Mr. Gormly bought a round of drinks for everyone in the orchestra. While everyone was smiling and drinking, Mr. Gormly made his way up to hotel room where he promptly shot himself. Two years later, James Kennedy would check into the the hotel in 1910. While in his room, Mr. Kennedy would cut the tags from all of his clothes and burned all of his papers. Once all of that was done, he, too, would end up shooting himself. In 1916, Morse Davis was found dead in his hotel room, room number 312. An autopsy would determine that he died of cyanide poisoning. Turns out that he and his wife had a suicide pact to take cyanide capsules together. She some how survived and was put in a mental hospital where she attempted to kill herself again. In 1920, a man died of alcohol poisoning when he drank poorly made moonshine. In 1926, while visiting the hotel on holiday, Harriet Harrison’s elevator malfunctioned which caused her to fall six stories to her death. In 1928, G. Herb Palin died of a heart attack in his room. 

While the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre didn’t happen in the Congress Hotel, Jake “Greasy Thumb” Gusik did make phone calls to the mobster, Al Capone, to let him before and after the massacre happened in 1929. Al Capone was vacationing in Florida when the attack happened. 

Probably one of the most tragic stories I came across while researching this hotel was the following story. In August, 1939, Adele Langer checked into the Congress Hotel with her two young sons, Karel Tommy was just six years old and his little brother, Jan Misha, was just four and half years old. The three of them had recently fled from Czechoslovakia when the Nazis had invaded. Unfortunately, the boys’ father, Karel Langer, was still in Czechoslovakia trying to wrap things with their estate and business. Adele had brought the boys to Chicago to be near some of her husband’s aunts while trying to get residency in the United States. Adele was falling into a deep depression due to their circumstances plus the fact that not could she not find a job to support her children but her husband was being delayed for weeks with no word. So one day, she decides to make some happy memories with her children. She took Karel and Jan to teh Lincoln Park Zoo and afterwards they had ice cream. After their day of fun, Adele and the boys made their way back to their hotel room on the 12th floor. Once in the room, Adele would proceed to throw the boys out of one of the windows to the street below before jumping to her own death. Unfortunately, in the after math of their deaths, little Karel’s body never made it to the morgue. Adele’s actions were deemed temporary insanity due to forced from her homeland. 

But even this didn’t stop the deaths in the hotel. In 1948, a long- term resident of the hotel was having breakfast one morning in the dining room when he died of a heart attack. He was a unique guest due to the fact that he had a wooden right leg. In 1950, the hotel’s credit manager knocked on the door of John Raymond’s hotel room to see how he planned to take care of his one hundred and four dollar debt with the hotel. Mr. Raymond’s response? To kill both the credit manager and himself instead of paying. In 1966, Fredrick Haye was found dead in his hotel room. He was found stripped of his clothes. His hands were tied to his feet with his socks and he had been strangled to death with his own shirt. 

Other deaths I read about but didn’t have dates included a salesman who saw an empty elevator shaft and jumped to his death.  In the 1970s, a woman sliced her wrists in the bathroom her hotel room and bled to death. A taxi driver jumped out of one of the upper floor windows. And finally, a man hung himself using a cupboard hook. 

With all of these deaths, it is no surprise that there are many reported hauntings at the Congress Hotel. In the Florentine Ball Room, electronics will turn themselves on and off, women can be heard whispering and men can be heard humming even when alone in the room, gunshots can be heard, the piano plays by itself, and Teddy Roosevelt has been seen walking around the ballroom. The elevator has a tendency of stopping on the eighth floor. This floor, coincidentally, is also the floor that the spirit of Al Capone is most often encountered. He has been seen walking the hallways and will occasionally nod to greet someone in passing. The ghost of the gentleman with the wooden leg is referred to as Peg Leg Johnny. He likes to turn lights on and off and mess with electronics throughout the hotel. He has also been seen sitting at his table in the dining room having a meal or a drink. On the twelfth floor a child spirit has been seen. They believe this is the spirit of Karel Langer. He has been seen running around, laughing, and playing. He is also known to move furniture around on the 12th floor. Some of the workers, especially security guards, have said that Karel has followed them home. They will look up at their house and he will be standing there watching them in their home before fading from sight. In the Gold Room, a woman has been seen wearing Victorian clothing. 

Do you remember Captain Louis Ostheim? He is known throughout the hotel as the Shadow Man. He has been seen gliding down hallways. Occasionally he likes to follow guests or workers around the hotel before letting them continue on without his watching them. 

Hotel room 441 in the south tower is considered to be the most haunted room in the hotel. Many guests have stated that they have awaken in the middle of the night to see a woman standing by their bed. Others say they are awaken when they feel their covers being tugged off of them. Worst yet is when guests report to being woken up by the woman kicking or shaking the bed violently while the guests try to sleep. The ghostly woman has been seen entering and exiting the bathroom. Objects will move by themselves and the lights like to turn on and off on their own. 

Back when he was still living, a retired judge who lived in the Congress Hotel liked to walk up and down the hallways with his television remote to change the channels on other guests’ televisions as a prank. Hotel workers claim that the judge is continuing to pull this prank even though he has been dead for several years. 

With all of the death and spookiness that happens in the Congress Hotel, it’s little surprised that this hotel is rumored to be the inspiration of Stephen King’s story “1408”. What are your thoughts about the Congress Hotel? Do you think it is cursed due to all the deaths and suicides that have happened there? Would you stay at the hotel? If you were to stay at the hotel, what spirit would you most likely want to encounter? Personally, I wouldn’t mind meeting Peg Leg Johnny. Not to often you get to meet someone with a wooden leg, dead or alive. 

Well, my friends that just about does it for our season finale. Before I close out this episode I do want to let you know that some changes have been made behind the scenes. As you can probably understand, with me working two jobs I don’t have the time I usually have to devote to blogging and podcasting. No, I am not giving up either but I am finally bringing in outside help. I have hired someone to help me with all of the research required in order to write my blog posts and to make these episodes. With their help, I will be able to stream line my process a bit more and have more time to do the stuff I enjoy, like writing and recording. I will be introducing this amazing person on the first episode of season two of Paranormal Housewife Podcast. We weren’t able to match up or schedules for this episode. There are other changes coming soon to both the podcast and the blog but those announcements will be coming out later. 

Since this is the end of season one of Paranormal Housewife Podcast, we will be taking a one month break. We will be back the first week of August with all new episodes. In the meantime, be sure to check out my blog, Paranormal Housewife dot com lots of spooky content. Please be sure to follow my social media pages. I share alot of things that happen in our day to day lives on there as well as keep y’all up to date with all of the spooky stuff happening in our lives. 

If you have suggestions for future blog posts or podcast episodes, or have a question about the paranormal world, please feel free to reach out to me at kelly at paranormal housewife dot com. You can also reach me on any of my social media platforms. Typically I am found under the user name paranormal housewife except on twitter I am paranormal h w. If you have enjoyed this episode, please take a quick moment to rate and review this podcast on whatever streaming service you are listening to it on. It really helps me out and helps let others know that this podcast is worth listening to. Also if you could share this podcast with your friends and family, I would greatly appreciate it. Again, it helps the podcast reach more listeners and I really want to share my love and knowledge of the paranormal with as many people as possible. I can’t do that without you. 

I hope y’all have an amazing month of July. If you go on any spooky trips or have any paranormal experiences, tag me in the pictures or drop me message. I want to see what y’all get to experience. Y’all have a good one. I’ll see y’all back here in a month. Until then, stay spooky. Bye y’all! 

Sources used for this podcast

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