Event replications, alternative explanations: St. James Hotel

A large part of the investigation process is to determine if the witnesses actually encountered something unusual but has a rational explanation. To accomplish this, we replicate the environment to create the same conditions as it was when the witness had their experience. Once this is accomplished we can then test various hypotheses to attempt to recreate the phenomena.

Once we are able to recreate the phenomena, the witness is brought back in (if possible) and the effect is replicated. They are then asked to compare the replication with what they reported to have experienced. If the phenomena was replicated to the satisfaction of the witness and the “paranormal” phenomena is sufficiently explained they are recorded here.


Reference A

The window at the end of the second floor hallway is the cause for a multitude of phenomena which is often inadvertently mistaken as paranormal activity by paranormal investigators and guests at the hotel.

The shadow at the door of room 17

People staying in Room 17 often report that when they look at the doorway at night, there appears to be a shadow of a person standing on the other side of the door. When they get up and open the door, no one is there.

The rear exterior of the hotel is well lit by exterior lighting and that light enters the window, adding to the available light in the hallways. The end of the second floor hall is already dark and the additional light from the outside really does create a difference. The shadow seen under the doorway is created when the exterior lights go out or dim due to an effect called cycling.

This is caused by older bulbs in the lights and is caused by a loss of sodium in the arc. Sodium vapor lamps can be started at a relatively low voltage, but as they heat up during operation the internal gas pressure within the arc tube rises, and more and more voltage is required to maintain the arc discharge. As a lamp gets older, the maintaining voltage for the arc eventually rises to exceed the maximum voltage output by the electrical ballast. When the lamp heats to this point, the arc fails and the lamp goes out.

Eventually, with the arc extinguished, the lamp cools down again, the gas pressure in the arc tube is reduced, and the ballast can once again cause the arc to strike. The effect of this is that the lamp glows for a while and then goes out, repeatedly.

Moving Apparitions in the second floor hallway

Other phenomena that is reported in the second floor hallway are “apparitions”, often seen out of the corner of the eyes. These events are always described as brief and often vanish before the witness can get a good look directly at them.

We were able to identify the cause of many of these encounters as stray light sources, often vehicle headlights, entering the window and moving along the south wall as the light source continues to move. Most of the light sources are caused by car movement in the rear of the parking lot, particularly when a vehicle turns off of Sherman Ave onto 16th street and then into the parking lot. The window drapes must be open for the effect to occur.


Reference B

Tapping noises on the window of Room 17

People staying in Room 17 often report that when the window is open, they heard a tapping noise of the glass. This is often attributed as being the ghost of mary Lambert and this phenomena has become ingrained into the local lore of the hotel.

However, the noises are not coming from the window. They’re origin is the dresser in the corner of the room.


The dresser has a mirror assembly that, although tightened down, is capable of moving. Vibrations created by walking in the room or hallway can cause the mirror to move slightly back and forth. This movement creates a tapping like noise that is often mistaken as coming from the window.

When we were trending the data collected from the witnesses we noticed that it was not a requirement for the window to be open. Many people have heard the tapping when the window was shut. Replication of this phenomena can sometimes be difficult because we haven’t determined the exact cause that creates the vibrations necessary to cause the mirror to sway. During one series of tests we were able to recreate the tapping simply by walking briskly towards the bathroom. However we were unable to make it move at all one hour later. Yet during another test we were able to create the tapping by having three people walk down the hall towards the stairs, which we were not able to accomplish during the first series of tests.

We did positively identify the mirror as the source by using a decibel digital sound level meter.

Reference C

Perfume smell on the Second Floor

A commonly reported occurrence on the second floor is a perfume smell that is associated with the ghost of Mary Lambert. The scent has multiple natural explanations.

1. In the spring and summer the odor can be traced to a flowering tree just north of the hotel. The smell is more predominant when there is a southern breeze. Seventy percent of the witness reports occurring during the spring and summer months were positively identified as the tree as the source of the smell.


2. Although the hotel avoids using scented cleaning products as much as possible, we have seen products with a floral scent being used on two occasions. These smells are slight and differ from other reports where the perfume is described as being over bearing and intense.


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