GHOULA meets for cocktails in haunted places on the 13th of each month. “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” is a casual social gathering of regional ghost hunters and those that just like ghost stories. Open to all, from the curious skeptic to the passionate phantom pursuer. Make friends, and toast a ghost! Let’s put the “Boo!” back into “booze.”
All those who attend will receive a free (square) G.H.O.U.L.A. button. If you already have one, please wear it so others can find you, without asking the staff about our group. (i.e. LOOK FOR SOMEONE WITH A GHOULA BUTTON)
Local architectural critic, Edward W. Soja described the post-modern design of the Bonaventure Hotel as “a concentrated representation of the restructured spatiality of the late capitalist city: fragmented and fragmenting, homogeneous and homogenizing, divertingly packaged yet curiously incomprehensible, seemingly open in presenting itself to view but constantly pressing to enclose, to compartmentalize, to circumscribe, to incarcerate.” Or, as another local architectural critic, Charles Moore, put it more simply “The place is as frustrating as a Piranesi prison drawing.”
It’s easy to get lost in this 1970’s futuristic downtown landmark with so many identical areas and repeating patterns. The only way out appears to be through the ceiling via the glass elevators. Yes, the elevators are the star attraction of this building (check out the plaques at each identical elevator listing their movie appearances). Some say they were inspired by the (spirit-designed) open-air elevator shafts of the Bradbury Building a couple of blocks away. For others, breaking through the glass ceiling brings to mind the “Wonkavator” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Their ability to travel along the exterior skin of the hotel (past the windows to the suites) also earned them an entry into the book “L.A. Bizarro” as “L.A.’s Premier Moving Peep Show.” We, at GHOULA, prefer to think of these elevators as a metaphor for the ascent to heaven, after one dies. Even the 80’s TV show, “It’s a Living,” (set in the bar on the roof) eludes to life and death in its title.
Speaking of dying and/or being trapped in brutalist prison-like architecture. The Bonaventure Hotel is home to at least one trapped spirit… in the underground parking garage.
Given that Southern California is the car-culture capital of the world, one would think that parking garage ghosts would be more common, and yet this is the only one we have heard about. There is a haunted parking lot a couple of blocks away on Main Street, but this oddly seems to be the only haunted garage. Although, the “darkness” in this dimly-lit space has been attributed to grisly murders that occurred on the 24th floor in 1979, involving bodies being chopped into pieces with a meat cleaver, there is another possible explanation for the Bonaventure’s underground ghost…
The hotel sits on top of Los Angeles’ original subway route, a portion of a Pacific Electric “Red Car” line that went underground. During the hotel’s construction, the old subway tunnel was caved-in to build the foundation (and parking garage). However, a section of that original tunnel still exists, starting from the Subway Terminal Building (417 South Hill Street) and ending at the Bonaventure. Hidden from the public, this tunnel can be accessed from the Terminal Building and from the nearby Biltmore Hotel. Those that have entered this forgotten corridor have claimed to have seen a little red-hared girl, maybe 7 years old. No one knows her identity or why she wanders these tracks. According to local lore, those that have seen this little girl are so frightened by the sight that they mark the spot where they saw her (with a spray-painted cross) to warn others. Supposedly, this otherwise empty tunnel is filled with painted crosses, lining the walls.
Could the “presence” that frightens garage attendants be the ghost of this frustrated redhead, forever sealed into that abandoned tunnel, her own underground tomb?
Come out to LA’s largest hotel (over 1300 rooms), and drink a toast to LA’s scariest readhead… if you dare.
(to read about last month’s haunted location… )
(to see a map of previous SPIRITS with SPIRITS locations… )
(to see more photos of the old subway… http://io9.com/5912316/shadowy-scenes-from-the-abandoned-los-angeles-subway-system)