Arizona Highways, October 2001
Taking The Off-Ramp
Bed, Breakfast and an Apparition or Two: Haunted Arizona Inns
By Christine Maxa
John Holst, owner and innkeeper of the Red Garter Bed and Bakery in Williams, describes himself as a "hardcore skeptic" when it comes to ghostly apparitions. But he has come to terms with his bed and breakfast's resident ghost, who one of his guests named Eve.
The two-story Victorian Romanesque-style bed and breakfast, once considered the rowdiest abode on Williams' Saloon Row, was constructed in 1897 as a bar and bordello that operated until the 1940s. A steep flight of steps known as the "Cowboy's Endurance Test" led to the girls upstairs.
Holst remodeled the building, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, converting the eight upstairs rooms (one for the madam and seven for the girls) into four guest rooms, each with its own bathroom. But, one of the girls, Holst thinks, never left.
"The gal I've got that comes to visit here is really shy," said Holst. "She's made an attempt to connect with certain people."
While most guest report having a good night' sleep. Some say they felt the bed shake, heard someone going up and down the stairs or felt something touching their arms.
"I do appreciate the fact that this building has over 100 years of very traumatic things going on," Holst said, "so anything's possible."
Valley Guide Quarterly, Summer 2001
By Christine Maxa
A ghost named Eve
Once in a while a ghost will appear in a picture even without a formal invitation. Such as the mysterious smiling woman in a photo John Holst--owner and innkeeper of the Red Garter Bed and Bakery in Williams--shows his guests while they munch on his homemade pastries at breakfast. No one else in the photo has a smile. Even stranger, this woman with the coquettish grin casts no reflection in the mirror, she stands in front of. "Pretty odd, huh?" Holst asks me as we study the old photo, which he also has posted on the Red Garter's website.
Holst describes himself as a "hard-core skeptic" when it comes to ghostly apparitions. But he has come to terms with his bed & breakfast's resident ghost, which one of his guests named Eve. The two-story Victorian Romanesque-style bed & breakfast, once one of the rowdiest buildings in Williams, was constructed in 1897 as a saloon and bordello. Holst remodeled the whole building, converting the eight upstairs rooms (one for the madam and seven for the girls) into four guest rooms, each with its own bathroom.
"The gal I've got that comes to visit here is really shy," Holst says. "She's made an attempt to connect with certain people. I don't know how she chooses them.
"I do appreciate the fact that this building has more than 100 years of traumatic things going on" Holst continues. "So anything's possible."
When Holst opened the bed & breakfast in 1994, some guests remarked that they felt an "aberrant pressure". Or heard footsteps up and down the stairs. Or has recurring dreams of a certain woman with long dark hair wearing a floor-length gown. Even though Holst still finds this supernatural side of his bed & breakfast a curiosity, he does admit to a peculiar sound he ambiguously attributes to Eve. "Sometimes I hear a sound that goes "clunk'," Holst explains. "It's like a door slamming. I have no idea where it comes from."
Route 66 Magazine, Summer 2001
By Rob Newman
The building that houses the Red Garter Bed and Bakery in historic Williams, Arizona was built in 1897 by August Tetzlaff, a German tailor. His plans were to cash in on what was expected to be a big boom for the town of Williams. Silver and copper mines were being planned for the Grand Canyon, and railroad workers were settling in the town as their construction work finished.
The building first housed a saloon on the first floor and a bordello upstairs. The working girls were known for hanging out of the windows and calling to the men passing by on Railroad Avenue. Both businesses did well, catering to miners, cowboys, and railroad workers. Then, as now, tourists visited the Grand Canyon on the Santa Fe and Grand Canyon Railway, and many of them would stop at the saloon for a drink and perhaps sample the services available upstairs.
The saloon was operated by Longino Mora. Mora himself was a notable figure, if not for his exploits as a scout for the U.S. cavalry, or his heroism in the Indian Wars, then for the fact that he had five different wives and twenty-five children. When his youngest was born, his oldest child was sixty years of age. Longino himself lived to be ninety.
Arizona outlawed prostitution in 1907, but throughout the state and much of the Southwest, the law was only loosely enforced - especially when the town's economy depended on the trade, as did Williams.
The little saloon and bordello just off the Old Trails Highway, which later became Route 66, thrived until the mid 1940s, when a murder committed on the stairs of the Red Garter led to a city-wide crackdown on saloons and houses of ill repute. This, along with the fact that most of the men who would otherwise patronize the bordello were fighting in WWII, led to its closure.
Over the next few decades, the building housed several businesses, including a general store and a rooming house. In 1979, John Holst bought the building and leased it out. In 1994, Mr. Holst took over the building and opened the Red Garter Bed and Bakery.
John's current project involves excavating the area behind the Red Garter. Williams, like San Francisco or Los Angeles, had a Chinatown where oriental railroad workers settled when the railroad was completed. The Chinatown in Williams, however, consisted of the two rear rooms of the Red Garter building, and a 25' x 32' lot. Apartments, a restaurant, a chophouse, and even an opium den were crowded into this small space. Often the local sheriff was called to this area t investigate a murder, only to arrive on the scene to find no bodies, no signs of mayhem, or anything out of the ordinary. There are even tales of the town garbage collector, Heine, being lowered into the cesspool below the outhouses to look for bodies, only to come up empty handed.
It is not, however, the ghosts of the countless Chinese immigrants who disappeared, or even the man murdered on the stairs that haunt the Red Garter. The ghostly footsteps, doors slamming, and other noises are attributed to the spirit of a young woman. Guests of the Red Garter have felt depressions appear in their mattresses, as if someone was sitting at the foot of the bed. Others who have seen the apparition describe her as a Hispanic girl with long dark hair. She wears a white nightgown and is usually seen holding something in front of her, although it is never quite clear what it is. One guest who claims to have made contact with the apparition says her name is Eva.
Today, most of the Red Garter guests don't come from the mines or ranches, but from the Internet. John says the majority of his reservations are from his website.
The Red Garter is now more famous for good coffee and mouthwatering pastries than good liquor, and activities in the form of, well, you know.
Mr. Holst frequently entertains guests with colorful stories from the history of the region and Route 66. The history lesson is complete with old photographs of the area and building, including a photo of members of the Mora family with a suspiciously grinning, dark-haired woman in the background whose reflection does not show up in the mirror.