The Haunted Dunhill Hotel
Charlotte, North Carolina has a lot to offer. The city features venues both big and small, including the world-renowned Blumenthal Performing Arts Center as well as the indiebound Visulite Theatre. If you’re in the mood for a drink, be sure to check out the Charlotte Brews Cruise, a cross-city tour of Charlotte’s finest beer companies and breweries, drinks included. If your ideal vacation is more about rest and relaxation, Charlotte also boasts Lake Norman, the perfect destination for boating, fishing, paddle boating, and basking in the sun. And no trip to Charlotte would be complete without a tour of the NASCAR hall of fame.
Of course, you’ll need somewhere to stay during your trip to Queen City. Along with its thriving entertainment sector, Charlotte has no shortage of luxury hotels. Although the options may be plentiful, for fans of the paranormal the Dunhill Hotel in Uptown Charlotte is the obvious choice. Constructed in 1929 at the dawn of the Great Depression, the haunted Dunhill Hotel is no stranger to inexplicable, creepy, and altogether strange goings-on. Think you’re brave enough for a night at the Dunhill? Read on!
History and Background
Before it came to be known as the Dunhill Hotel, the ten-story high-rise at 237 North Tyron Street was known as the Mayflower Manor Hotel and Apartments. The Mayflower was designed by well-established architect Louis Asbury Sr. in a Classical Revival style and contained 100 rooms for both permanent residents and temporary guests.
When the hotel was completed in November of 1929, it rose above the city skyline as one of the tallest buildings in Charlotte, a towering testament to the strength and perseverance of the American dream. And in 1929, that dream was more important than ever. Just one month earlier, the nation had experienced the most devastating economic crash in its history, effectively decimating American families, jobs, and spirits. When naming the newly-minted hotel, Investors decided on the name “Mayflower” to harken back to the nation’s foundations and appeal to the resiliency of the American people. Construction of the hotel as well as day-to-day operations also provided much-needed jobs for the citizens of Charlotte now reeling from the effects of the depression. The investors’ efforts to embody this sense of resilience quickly paid off, and in its first year of business, the Charlotte Observer listed it among the city’s “largest and finest buildings,” as well as an impressive addition to the Charlotte skyline.
Despite the ruin America experienced during the Great Depression, business at the Mayflower boomed. Throughout the 1930s, hundreds of guests passed through its doors, and dozens more made their homes in the Mayflower’s upper residential floors. This trend continued throughout the next several decades, but by the 1960s, the once-grand Mayflower Manor was beginning to crumble. As the building itself fell deeper into disrepair throughout the 1970s, the previously steady stream of guests slowed to a sad trickle. By 1981, the doors of the Mayflower permanently closed to the public.
For a number of years, the building remained vacant. The grand front doors that had once welcomed hundreds of guests were locked and boarded up, and the once brightly lit windows fell dark. In 1988, real estate development partners Brad Holcomb and Dough Patterson purchased the darkened, dilapidated old building, and renovation efforts began. Six million dollars later, the Mayflower Manor reopened its doors as the Dunhill Hotel. However, their investment quickly fell short, as the new and improved hotel failed to garner enough business to sustain itself, and filed for bankruptcy less than two years later.
In 1990, the hotel’s bad luck continued when the Southeastern Federal Savings Bank took possession of the property. In 1991, the bank sold the property to a second pair of real estate developers, Gene Singleton and Doyle Parrish. Things quickly began to look up for the Dunhill, and that same year, the Historic Hotels of America accepted it into its program, ensuring its preservation as a national historic landmark. Singleton and Parrish have enjoyed considerably better luck with the property than their predecessors, as the hotel continues to operate smoothly today, even winning an award for the Best Historic Hotel from the Historic Hotels of America in 2017.
Despite the influx of business the hotel experienced during the Great Depression, not every guest who checked in enjoyed the same prosperity. As one of the tallest buildings in the city, the Mayflower became a popular jumping-off point for desperate, suicidal businessmen. Dozens of men reportedly took their own lives by leaping from the upper floors of the Dunhill in the 1930s. If the hotel’s more recent guests are to be believed, many of their spirits never left, forever chained to the Dunhill by the anguish of their final moments there.
One visitor who checked into the Dunhill sometime in the late 1980s tells a story that seems to confirm this. According to her report, the woman was in Charlotte on business and had booked a room on the 10th floor of the hotel. She returned to her room after a long day of meetings, wanting nothing more than to crawl into bed and get some rest. Little did she know, that night was to be a long and restless one.
Just as she had finished peeling back the covers, she heard what sounded like heavy footsteps above her. She found this odd, as her room was on the top floor of the hotel. Curious, she wandered to the window and peered out.
The night was cold and starless, and the woman couldn’t make anything out—at least—not at first. Suddenly, a large, heavy object plummeted from the roof past her window. Gasping, the women drew back from the ledge. She couldn’t be sure, but whatever had just fallen outside her window looked eerily human. Terrified, she forced herself to peer over the ledge. On the pavement 10 stories below lay the crumpled, bleeding body of a man in a suit, his hat beside him. The woman screamed and reached for the phone to dial 911. But all she heard on the other end was static.
In a panic, the woman threw on her robe and rushed downstairs to the lobby. She ran outside to the sidewalk below her window, but could find no one there. The man was gone, leaving not even a drop of blood behind. I must be losing it, the woman thought to herself as she headed back upstairs. But that same night, the woman saw the same apparition diving by her window dozens of time, falling and appearing on the sidewalk below again and again before vanishing. The woman tossed and turned all night before finally falling into a restless sleep.
The next day, she made a trip to the local library to look up records of deaths in the area. Her research turned up a young man by the name of Alfred P. Forester, who committed suicide at the Dunhill Hotel exactly 50 years ago that night.
Alfred is far from the only restless spirit to plague the hotel. According to reports, when the Dunhil underwent renovations in the 1980s, a human skull was uncovered from the basement. The mystery to how the bones got there, and who they belong to, has never been solved. Perhaps the owner of the skull lurks behind on some unfinished business. He seems to envy the still-attached heads of hotel patrons, as many of them have reported feeling a strange tingling sensation beginning at the base of the spine and traveling all the way up to the skull.
Of all the hotel’s many rooms, patrons claim 906 to be the most haunted. One guest unlucky enough to book room 906 reports lying in bed late one night when the lights suddenly began to flicker on and off all on their own. As she laid there in disbelief, all the appliances in the room followed suit, frantically turning themselves on and off, before what sounded like a spectral hand tapped three times on the nightstand. The woman screamed, then everything stopped. When she checked the clock on her bedside table, it read exactly three A.M.
The city of Charlotte, North Carolina is a city of plenty. Plenty to do, plenty to eat, and plenty of places to stay. But if you’re a fan of the strange and unexplained, the Dunhill Hotel is the obvious choice. There’s always something spooky to see at the Dunhill, from phantom skulls to suicidal businessmen, to ghostly disembodied hands. And if you consider yourself especially brave, be sure to book a stay in room 906, if you dare.