Wichita’s Broadview Hotel was a premier stop along the Chisholm Trail in the early 1900s. Famous visitors from the past include Charles Lindbergh, Clyde Cessna and Al Capone. And even today, a few visitors from the past have decided to stick around the hotel making it one of the most famous haunted places in Wichita. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson reports...
A dozen people are gathered in the lobby at the Drury Plaza Hotel- formerly known as the Broadview. It was built in 1922. Towering eight stories above the banks of the Arkansas River on West Douglas, the solid brick building is hard to miss. The group is on a ghost tour visiting haunted places in Wichita.
After sharing some information he learned about the hotel -- like the fact that it housed a speakeasy during prohibition -- and adding some tiny details from his own imagination, Jared Hansen, the group’s tour guide, gets to the real reason they’re here. Clarence the ghost. His story takes place in 1929.
"Clarence was a guy – you have to picture-- nice business suit, semi-successful man, coming in for a trip with his wife. They check in; the music’s playing; the alcohol downstairs is flowing. People are having a good time," Hansen says.
While he and his wife were guests at the hotel, Clarence had the misfortune of finding his wife in a compromising position in the arms of another man. In his anger, Clarence took a gun and shot and killed his wife.
"Then Clarence, filled with rage, guilt, confusion, went back up to his room on the eighth story, reached over the window balcony, and dropped plummeting to his death eight stories," Hansen continues.
Over the years, many people have experienced Clarence’s presence.
"You would think that a person that killed themselves so violently, especially holding so much emotion rage and confusion would be like an evil spirit, but Clarence actually has been known to be quite the prankster," Hansen explains. "You get guests complaining of the phone ringing over and over and over.”
Clarence is thought to be the reason behind another story as well. A flight attendant who was checked into the hotel entered her room only to find the curtains sticking to the ceiling as if the room were upside down.
“Needless to say she slept in the lobby that night,” Hansen laughs.
The tour group moves to the other side of the hotel lobby.
“We can't go in it tonight- but they do have a crystal ballroom and it's just immaculate," Hansen says. "Sometimes people say that they see people in 1920's attire dancing."
One of the strangest hauntings in the hotel comes in the sounds of wings flapping down a long hallway. The hallway is empty. The kitchen staff has also reported their fair share of paranormal visitors. Rumor has it that once when the kitchen staff was working they suddenly heard a loud clicking sound. It was a soap dispenser – empty and no longer in use- clicking away with no one standing near by.
This was just the beginning of a night full of ghostly stories told with a little room for interpretation. But as the tour group got back on the bus, Clarence wasn’t quite ready for them to move on.
“Clarence touched his leg he said," one person the bus exclaims. "
"I know!" Hansen responds turning to address the rest of the group. "We had a person that said Clarence touched his leg!”