Glen Tavern Inn Article
Written by Nicole Strickland
Paranormal Researcher, Author and Lecturer
Known as the “Citrus Capital of the World,” Santa Paula is a city in Southern California’s Ventura County. It is named after Catholic Saint Paula. Located along the Santa Clara River Valley, the area’s first inhabitants were the Chumash Native Americans. In 1769, when Gaspar de Portola and his Spanish expedition set foot on California territory, they migrated through the area, setting up camp on August 12th. With the founding of the San Buenaventura Mission, Portola’s Franciscan missionaries became quite active in the region, founding an Asistencia.
Many consider Nathan Weston Blanchard to be the founder of Santa Paula as in 1872 he purchased 2,700 acres for his new town. The Union Oil Company commenced in 1890 after the unification of various small oil companies led by Thomas R. Bard, Wallace Hardison and Lyman Stewart. In the early 1900s, Hollywood found the area to be quite conducive to filming with Gaston Melles relocating his Texas-based Star Film Company to the region in 1911. Iconic actors, such as John Wayne, Carol Lombard and Steve McQueen sojourned at the inn. It has also been suggested that famed magician, Harry Houdini, spent the night at the location while traveling.
In addition to these noted facts relating to the city, the building of the Glen Tavern Inn is still considered the most iconic piece of history relating to Santa Paula. In fact, the building is aptly situated on various Chumash villages and campsites that lie adjacent to the creek and above the Santa Clara River. Due to the rapidly increasing oil industry and need for accommodations, the Bungalow / Craftsmen / Tudor-style Glen Tavern Inn was constructed in 1911 by Crookshank & Summers, Hunt and Burns, a firm quite well-known for its monumental properties throughout coastal California. Known as “The Little Potter,” visitors were able to seek and find first-class lodging, delectable food and adequately equipped, hospitable treatment. Having survived both the good and bad, the historic structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the early Glen Tavern Inn brochures specified that the three-story edifice consisted of 44 rooms, a bar, dining facility; pool and spa rooms. J.N. Crane was the proprietor of the structure by 1917. With the advent of WWI draftees in Ventura County, a special banquet took place with dancing located in the large, decorated lobby. Just two years later, the region was plagued by a potent influenza, which caused all hotels and restaurants to temporarily shut down. It was during 1919, when Mr. and Mrs. Charles D. Estep bought the property; in 1921, world-renowned composer and pianist, Ignace Jan Pederewski checked into the inn.
In March of 1928, Santa Paula was the victim of ferocious flooding as the St. Francis Dam malfunctioned. As a result, the Glen Tavern Inn was temporarily utilized as a possible morgue for the deceased and provisional shelter for displaced individuals. Furthermore, this historic abode has survived fires, other floods, murders and even suicides – events all culminating into a deeply historic tapestry.
History and the paranormal are so intrinsically intertwined; as a result, it is no wonder that the Glen Tavern Inn is one of California’s most haunted abodes. These historic occurrences have, in a way, left a psychic imprint of times gone by on the property and in part, is why the structure is so well known to paranormal researchers. Intriguingly, the property’s third floor is rumored to have consisted of a gambling parlor and house of ill-repute. The legends attached to the third floor include that of a beheaded prostitute and a cowboy named Calvin. According to many, various ghostly activities at the inn come from various historical time periods allowing the living to tap into a past event in history.
Rob Wlodarski, the founder and director of the International Paranormal Research Organization (IPRO), is a noted author, archaeologist and historian, having worked on various cultural resource projects in Santa Paula since 1972. As a cultural resource consultant for the City of Santa Paula, Rob and his team have conducted fifty-plus paranormal investigations inside the historic edifice, having permitted access to several buildings and other locations within the city.
In regards to the paranormal, Wlodarski states, “Over the years, I have documented shadowy figures, a screaming woman, phantom children playing on the stairs, doors that will suddenly slam shut, door knobs that will jiggle when no one is occupying the room and strange gusts of cold air.” Phantom smells have been documented, such as the aroma of alcohol and tobacco. Upon the varnishing of the second floor landing, phantom imprints of a small left foot would appear without a beginning or ending and would continue to do so after each coat of varnish.
With rooms 201 – 208 undergoing restoration after a fire, the IPRO concentrated on the second floor during a paranormal research project. It was during this time that team members heard a loud disembodied female scream, which was also captured on an analog tape recorder. The team was not able to come up with a logical explanation of the ghostly scream. It was relayed to IPRO that a woman committed suicide at the end of the hall.
Brandon Alvis, talented filmmaker and founder of the American Paranormal Research Association (APRA), feels that there is a specific type of energy on the property that attracts certain people. He feels that the location’s energy seems to influence those who are enduring a rough period in their lives. In fact, upon moving there, he was told that the inn will “make you or break you,” a sentiment he has come to truly believe. Sadly, some individuals that took up residence at the Glen Tavern Inn never made it out.
Brandon has spent many years researching the iconic property. In fact, after residing at the Glen Tavern Inn for over two years, he shares one common supernatural experience: the disembodied voices of children. On numerous occasions, Brandon has heard the voices of a young boy and girl in the lobby; second and third floors. Rob even relayed that he, too, has heard the spiritual giggles of a young male and female child on the second floor.
After several years of supernatural investigations on the property, it is theorized that at least 15 spirited entities reside at the inn. Rob mentions witnessing a man in period attire walk between rooms 306 and 307 before vanishing through the locked exit door. Another investigator reported seeing an apparition in what appeared to be a chef’s hat with arms folded across its chest. He further discusses how the sense of being watched by unseen eyes is so strong as well as water and shower faucets turning on of their own volition. In regards to the locale’s paranormal hot spots, Brandon feels that the second floor and the lobby have the most disturbances; however, activity is known to take place at anytime and anywhere within its confines.
Brandon further echoes that, “From my years of living within the walls of the Glen Tavern Inn, I can tell you that there is a specific type of energy that attracts certain people. Over that span of two years, I am aware of two deaths that took place in the building – two deaths that seem to be a familiar trend of those living at the inn.” Various individuals have documented and continue to document photographic and light anomalies; apparitional sightings; mists; temperature drops; environmental meter spikes; both disembodied vocalizations and captured electronic voice phenomena. In fact, some of the audio captures suggest the presence of at least three ethereal children and various male and female ghosts.
In regards to approaching a paranormal research project at the Glen Tavern Inn, Brandon feels that the location is an interesting locale for the fact that not one particular methodology seems to work best. He believes that the inn and its ghostly residents appear to work on their own time; allowing their ethereal forms to be heard and seen with the living individuals they choose to interact with. He shares that APRA has conducted multiple experiments on the second and third floors to no avail.
“I would describe the Glen Tavern Inn as a charming place that will make you feel welcome with open arms. It’s not until you settle down as time passes that you will see the true colors of this strange location,” Brandon goes on to say. One day, he hopes that he and his team will be able to tell the true story of what it’s like to “…live in the walls of such a strange and ugly place.”
Written by Nicole Strickland
Paranormal Researcher, Author, Speaker