Although Santa Paula is only an hour drive north from the congested metropolis of Los Angeles, it seems as if it a world away. This tranquil little hamlet sits among the citrus groves that provide the main basis for the economy, and when driving in or out of town a stop at a roadside stand selling freshly picked and local oranges makes a nice treat. The 30,000 residents enjoy the clean fresh air, the quietness that a small town brings, and the luxury of being just miles inland from the beaches and the Pacific Ocean. But even peaceful small towns have their darker stories.
By 1911 when the Glen Tavern Inn was built in Santa Paula, the town was already established as a farming and oil town, but it wouldn’t take long for Hollywood to discover it for a setting for movies, and also as an escape for its stars. The early days of Santa Paula saw a rougher and rowdier town than today, and in the 1920’s during Prohibition, the third floor of the Glen Tavern Inn was used as an illegal speakeasy, casino, and brothel. Those wild days have left behind tales of vice and murder, and possibly left behind some spirits of those wilder times.
So on our trip Santa Paula, we had decided to stay at the historic Glen Tavern Inn. Arriving at the front desk for check in, I was excited to hear that we were staying in room 307. Debi asked what was so important about room 307 and I stated to her simply “that is the murder room.” It is also the room where claims have been made of people seeing two ghosts. One of the spirits is known as Calvin, a cowboy that was said to have been shot during a card game when the third floor was a casino and the other a murdered prostitute who’s body was found in the rooms closet by a housekeeper. I’m not certain if I was disappointed or relieved, but during our stay we didn’t see any apparitions appear in our room, we didn’t experience any sudden cold spots, and we didn’t hear any voices speaking from beyond the grave. What we did experience though was an unique stay in an historic hotel that gave us a pretty good story to tell.
Santa Paula, California February 2014
If you enjoyed this story, check out The Wigwam Motel for another unique place to stay.