A Night in the Haunted Manresa Castle Hotel!

As we walked down the hallway on the top floor of the castle, we quietly scanned the room numbers on the doors as we passed by. I don’t know what Erich was thinking, but I do know that he had been apprehensive, possibly nervous (scared?) about this little adventure. I was more gung-ho about the whole ordeal; eager for it to happen. And then, there we were, at the door to Room 306. I swiped the electronic key and opened the door…


The first time I visited my parents on Whidbey Island, they took me to Port Townsend for the day, across Puget Sound from them. That was when I first spotted the Manresa Castle. How fascinating I found it. I heard something about it having a restuarant or maybe a bar, but I didn’t get to visit it that day–nor on any subsequent visit to Port Townsend over the next fifteen years or so. For me, the Manresa remained an enigma for the longest time.

Manresa Castle

Last August, my friend Erich and I were coming back from a trip around the Olympic Penninsula. We had some time to kill before our ferry reservation back to Whidbey, and I suggested visiting the Manresa for some lunch or something.

The place was…interesting. Maybe it wasn’t nearly as elegant as I thought it would be, but there was still something fascinating about it. While we ate, I looked the place up. Oh my stars! Aside from its history as a private residence and then as a seminary for Jesuit preists, I found out that the castle was haunted!

After lunch, I insisted on scoping the place out. I wanted to see everything. After all, I had been waiting at least fifteen years to see the place. I was going to see every nook and cranny that I could. From the restaurant (The Nook), we ventured across the foyer and into another bar that also doubled as a book store called The Green Room.

Since we had the time while waiting for the ferry, we decided to have a drink in the bar. While we sipped, I looked up more about the history of the castle. It was built by Port Townsend’s first mayor, Charles Eisenbeis in 1892. Charles died ten years later in 1902. His wife, Kate, remarried in 1905, vacating the house and leaving it in the hands of a caretaker. One website I saw mentions a lawyer buying the place to use as a vacation spot for nuns in the Seattle area. The venture flopped and he sold the place to the Jesuit priests in 1927. In 1928, after adding a new wing, the Jesuits opened their seminary, which ran until 1968, when it was converted to a hotel, which it has been ever since.

After our drinks, we went back into the foyer. There was a sign forbidding us from venturing up the stairs. (It was for hotel guests only.) So, we walked around behind the stairs and down the long first-floor hallway towards the rear of the castle.

At the end of the hallway, there was a split-level section. The upper level was apparently some sort of banquet hall, while the lower level offered yet another bar. Since we’d just had a drink in the Green Room, we really didn’t need another–so I just took a quick peek.

The hotel’s registration desk was just around the corner at the end of the hall. The desk clerk was speaking with some guests. I really wanted to ask her about the hotel and its ghosts, so we checked out the “library” across from it while clerk finished her business.

Finally the clerk had a moment and we approached her. Her name was Amber-Dawn and she was delightful and very helpful. She was giving me basic information about the hotel, but when I asked her about the alleged hauntings, her face visibly lit up. It seems talking about the ghosts there was something she really found interesting. Her favorite creepy area of the hotel, she said, was the attic. And, yes, she did say she had had an encounter on the third floor one night during a power outage with the spirit of a little girl. On another occasion, when she was closing up on a slow night, Amber-Dawn was alone and walking down a dark hallway when she heard a female voice say “Hello” right in her ear. Eerie.

I asked her about Room 306, which is (according to the websites and the hotel lore) supposed to be the most haunted room in the place. Did it have two beds, by chance, and its own connected bathroom (which all of the rooms do not have)? It did. And how much was it a night? With taxes and other fees, the total for a night was about $160. I thought about it for just a moment or two and thought, why not?

I booked the room for two months down the line in early October. If nothing else, it would be an adventure and a great way to kick off the Halloween season. Oh the joy!

Over the course of the two months while we waited, Erich (who had returned to Washington after visiting his home over the summer) hemmed and hawed about the upcoming visit to the Manresa. I think he was a little freaked out, especially after his very weird encounter at the infamous Clown Motel in Tonepah, Nevada a few years ago.

I had been looking into what was supposedly going on at the Manresa. Some stories feature a monk (or perhaps a Jesuit student) hanging themselves in the attic. His footsteps, forever walking back and forth in the attic, possibly as he contemplated his demise, can supposedly be heard in Room 302 below.

The banquet hall has had glasses shatter (even when held in a hand) or spontaneously flip upside down. Doors have been known to open and close on their own.

There are reports of a sad, phantom violinist, a ghostly giggling child, and the specter of a woman named Natalie. TV’s GHOST ADVENTURES even filmed an episode at the castle and experienced some strange phenomena.

But what about Room 306? Why is it supposed to be haunted? Depending on which site you read, there was a woman referred to as English Kate (to differentiate from the original owner, Kate Eisenbeis), staying in what is now Room 306 back in 1921 (She was possibly a friend or relative of the caretaker). Some tales say she was with child and unmarried. Her beau was a seaman and news of his ship sinking reached her. Distraught over the news of her fiance’s death or possibly the shame of being unmarried and pregnant, the story is English Kate jumped from Room 306’s window to the sidewalk below, where she died. (And, the story goes, it turned out that her fiance actually survived the sinking.)

The last view English Kate might have had if her story is true.

The ghost of English Kate is said to have been seen staring out the window. She has been known to riffle through visitors belongings and not bother to leave them as she found them. She leaves drawers open or sings in the bathroom in the very late hours of the night. She has also been known to sit on people’s beds–while they are in them. Sounds of a woman crying have also been reported. The acts are not malicious, just weird.

This might be a really interesting adventure, I thought.

About a week before our visit was scheduled, I wanted to re-introduce myself to Amber-Dawn, remind her of our conversation in early August, and inquire about the chance of seeing the attic. (She had said she would check on getting us up there possibly.) I wrote her a letter and sent it in one of my mail art envelopes to get her attention. We had really liked Amber-Dawn and seeing her again was going to be a big part of the trip.

October 5th arrived. Erich and I took the ferry across to Port Townsend.

We pulled up to the castle and walked up the steps to the lobby entrance. We opened the door, stepped inside, and…where was Amber-Dawn? There was some young girl sitting where Amber-Dawn should have been.

“This is her one day off,” the new desk clerk said when we asked.

What!?! No Amber-Dawn meant no hoped for trip up to the attic and no fun chats about the ghosts. That was a huge blow to the evening I wanted to have; just devastating. Man…

After checking in, the desk girl asked if we wanted a ride up in the elevator. I, with my cane and neuro-muscular issues, did.

An original Otis elevator, installed by the Jesuits, is still in operation and it requires the hotel staff to operate it. The desk clerk opened the door for me. As I stepped in, I almost fell. The bottom of the elevator car was a good six inches below the level of the hotel floor. When we stopped at the third floor, we’d gone up too far and I needed to step down out of the car. Swell.

Erich had walked up and met me at the elevator when I arrived. Room 306 was at the far end of the hall, in the original section of the house.

We opened the door and went in. It was scary, alright…but it had nothing to do with ghosts. Although clean, the room had clearly seen better days and was rather tired and worn looking, I thought. It could totally do with some refreshing or something. Not that I wasn’t happy to be there–I was, but felt almost like I was in some shabby motel instead of a “castle.”

I mean, hello? There was a huge swatch of wallpaper missing from the walls–and it had clearly been gone a long time. (But I get it. I’m guessing post-covid, things might still be tight financially.)

We dropped off our stuff and I gave the room a quick once-over. The window that English Kate would have jumped out of was next to my bed. Next to it on the wall was a framed Victorian print. If the story and ghost of English Kate are real, I thought the picture was a cruel slap in her face. Entitled “Meeting Daddy,” the picture shows a woman, carrying a small child, walking up to a boat that has just returned from the sea. It was all of those things English Kate had deprived herself of with her suicide. Ouch.

A small side window gave us an interesting view of the addition that was added on to the original house.

We decided to go and get a cocktail and a snack in the main bar/dining room, the Rook, on the first floor. Our room was right next to the stairs. (I never again got to ride in the elevator. Instead I had to hobble around with my cane up and down the stairs any time I needed to go somewhere.) I wanted to snoop about a bit and as we were leaving, I noticed another staircase going up just above the one we were to take down. Up? We were on the top floor. That could only be the staircase to the attic!

It was dark up there, but I had to check and see if I could get in. I unsteadily clomped up the stairs to the top. There was a door. I tried to open it, but alas it was locked. Drat it all.

We made our way downstairs. I was delighted to see that there were a few Halloween decorations. They somehow enriched the experience.

We had cocktails and a couple of snacks to tide us over until dinner. I feared that the only spirits we were liable to encounter that night were of the liquid variety before us in the glasses.

After that, I wanted to check the place out fully, starting with the grounds.

We returned to the hotel lobby area. I snapped more photos of the front desk and library area. I told Erich I wanted to go to the lower bar, the Elephant Bar, just to check it out. He decided to stay in the library and play games on his phone. That was fine.

Down in the Elephant Bar, I had a good look around. I dug all of the blacklight in use, but the space wasn’t that interesting overall, I thought.

There was a sign mentioning a karaoke room, which I went to check out. There was also a big, empty room next to this interesting book shelf–all behind the bar. I later learned that the empty room is being turned into a speakeasy rum bar, for which I’d love to return and try!

I sat at the bar and looked at the blacklit drink menu. I took a picture of it and sent it to Erich, in case he was interested. I ordered something called an Ukiyo, which contains vodka, elderflower liqeuer, soda, and “iridescence.” What? Sold!

Erich came down and joined me. We got roped into playing the bar’s trivia game (and came in 2nd place). Before leaving, I tried one of their jello shots.

From there, we went to dinner–off of the grounds. Erich wanted to eat somewhere on the water and picked a place. I was hoping for some horror during our stay–I just didn’t expect it to be my dinner. It was boiled to death (and beyond) vegetables, cheap, frozen little chicken breasts and out-of-a-box pilaf. Usually I don’t notice the quality of my food, but this crap outraged me. Erich had fish and a slice of pie, both of which he said were good. I’m glad for him, but my food was trash.

Back at Manresa Castle, night had fallen…

We got back to the room. I wanted to poke around some more, but Erich wanted to watch some EVERYONE LOVES RAYMOND reruns. Apparently he wasn’t as freaked out about Room 306 as he had been before we arrived.

I explored the grounds again. Night added a spookier aspect to the castle.

I went everywhere I could.

I had spotted a little courtyard-like area tucked away on the side of the castle, just outside of the Rook. I checked it out as well. A sandwich board announced the space as a “food court.” Perhaps it was the restaurant’s attempt to drum up more business? It was interesting. I wish I had known about it earlier.

Seeing the grounds was nice…but in doing so, it didn’t scare up anything. Waaagh! I decided to go to the only public area that I hadn’t been to yet this trip, the Green Room bar.

The Nook was busy, but the Green Room was dead. I liked the quiet. I ordered a drink and contemplated what a bust the whole adventure was turning out to be. While it was interesting to be at the Manresa, nothing was going the way I hoped. Amber-Dawn’s absence especially had been a terrible blow to the trip.

Eventually, I went back upstairs. The EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND mini-marathon was coming to a close. It was just about time for bed. While I dug through my bag, Erich had started watching another TV program…and that was when the real horror of the night happened. Oh my god! I realized I’d left my toiletries back at home. No toothbrush! No hairbrush! Not only would I (and everyone else around me) be haunted by the ghosts of everything I’d eaten that day the next day (via bad breath), I’d also be haunted by bed-head hair in the morning. YIKES! Truly scary.
Soon it was lights out. The only ghosts seen were those of THE GOLDEN GIRLS as we clicked off the television…

The next morning, Erich asked me if I had smelled anything overnight. Huh? As I had been laying in bed, falling asleep, he had asked me if I had farted. Uh, no. I hadn’t. He said he had smelled something like a bad fart right when we had gone to bed…and that it had lingered a long while before dissipating. Later there was something he described as an “old toilet smell.” Finally, there was a smell he said was like that of overcooked eggs. “Not like sulpherous, rotten eggs,” he said. “Just overcooked.”

I hadn’t smelled anything unusual or unpleasant.

Later, while researching for this post, I came across this notation on a website that had covered the Manresa, particularly dealing with English Kate and Room 306:

“This female entity has created good aromas and bad smells in this room, depending how she likes the people staying in her room, and what mood she finds herself feeling.”

Apparently she didn’t like Erich. Ha!

After a quick finger brushing of my teeth and hair, it was time to leave. As we walked past the front desk on our way out, I spied a flyer for guests; a “self-guided tour” sheet. The way things had gone (or not gone) on this trip, it figures I’d find it on the way out.

We left and had a very good breakfast at a tiny restaurant in a nearby shipyard. Before long, we were on the ferry back home, where I’d be able to brush my teeth properly and we’d be far away from Manresa Castle and any unpleasant odors (ghostly or otherwise).

Manresa Castle
651 Cleveland St.
Port Townsend, WA 98368
(360) 385-5750

A podcast I stumbled upon, featuring an interview with Amber-Dawn, can be found HERE.

12 thoughts on “A Night in the Haunted Manresa Castle Hotel!

  1. Bummer that Amber-Dawn was not there, but seems like it was still a cool place (outside of the guest rooms that sound like they need a renovation). And while not what you were expecting, it still made for a good story. Maybe there wasn’t a lot of exciting things that happened while you were there, but you wrote it very well and kept it engaging! I enjoyed reading it and seeing all the photos.


    1. Mr. Ostrowski! Thank you for visiting the blog/page. Yes, trying to keep the reader’s interest when NOTHING happened was a challenge. Thanks for the kind words. Have a super swell time in Europe! Zowie! Take me with you. CHEERS!


      1. YES, It’s ME!! I’ve been here awhile, but don’t post often. I use as an archive for myself and when my family wants one of my recipes I just send them a link.


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