Domico Rodriguez has never seen a ghost.
And for someone in his position, that’s actually surprising.
“It’s just not really my thing,” said Rodriguez, who serves as the general manager of the historic—and supposedly haunted—Hotel Alex Johnson in downtown Rapid City.
It is, however, many of the Alex Johnson’s guests’ “thing.”
Opened in 1928, the hotel celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. With nearly a century’s worth of guests, events, and even presidential visits, the Alex Johnson is regarded as one of the most historic hotels in America.
But that isn’t its only claim to fame.
Consistently listed as one of the most haunted hotels in South Dakota, the Alex Johnson even offers a paranormal package. For an additional $70 fee, you can book one of the hotel’s haunted rooms on the eighth floor.
“[Room] 812 is considered the haunted room, if you will,” said Rodriguez. “But there have been reports about 802 and 804, too.”
According to numerous guest accounts and tales, and one very real crime scene photo, the eighth floor plays host to four spirits.
NUMBER OF GHOSTS: 4
The Lady in White
The Jilted Bride
The Young Girl
(Alex Johnson’s niece)
The first, and perhaps the most well known, is the Lady in White.
Rumor has it, a bride threw herself from the window of her eighth floor room after she was left at the altar. Guests have reported seeing a shadowy white figure roaming the halls, which they can only assume is the “ghost bride.”
A similar instance—and the only verified tale—concerns another jilted bride who hung herself from the telephone cord in her eighth floor room.
And that one’s confirmed. Rodriguez was shown the crime scene photo (property of the Rapid City Police Department) when he was hired.
The other spirits are said to be those of Alex Johnson himself, and a young girl said to be his niece, who died at a young age of an incurable disease.
Rodriguez says the young girl is one of the most commonly reported supernatural phenomena.
“People say they hear kids running up and down the hall,” said Rodriguez. “Well, we don’t have a lot of kids that stay here, particularly not young children. But that’s one of the things that they often talk about. They hear them playing in the hallway.”
The SyFy channel’s Ghost Hunters even paid the Alex Johnson a visit back in 2011 to test the claims (Season 7, Episode 5, if you’re interested).
But, according to Rodriguez, much of the hotel’s spookiness simply comes from its age.
“This place is creepy because it’s old,” said Rodriguez.
And he’s not wrong. The nearly 100-year-old building certainly has its quirks.
Two rooms on the third floor—the only guest rooms on that floor, in fact—lack full windows, making them eerily dark.
That same floor used to function as Alex Johnson’s personal living quarters.
“There’s just a lot of odd things about the way those rooms are set up,” said Rodriguez.
But the structure offers something even stranger than a few unusually dark hotel rooms.
According to Rodriguez, downtown Rapid City used to be connected by a series of underground tunnels.
No one is entirely certain of the tunnels’ purpose, but speculations have ranged from the utilitarian—coal depositories—to the thrilling—passageways for drunken party-goers.
While no longer in use, likely due to heavy flooding in the mid-20th century, the tunnels do connect to the Alex Johnson.
Upon descending into the hotel’s basement, one is met with a series of narrow hallways and oddly-shaped rooms.
“When our ownership bought this, we opened up a lot of different spaces that weren’t available before, and no one can really figure out what they are,” said Rodriguez.
A room with drains in the cement floor has sparked the idea of an underground barber shop, where, rumor has it, the barber slit a patron’s throat.
Another room has been touted as a gentlemen’s lounge, and a set of stairs with no apparent destination offers added mystery to these strange spaces beneath the hotel’s lobby.
“There’s just a lot of things that can’t be explained about this place, and there aren’t any people around who know for sure,” says Rodriguez.
Blueprints exist only for the upstairs portion of the hotel, with no mention of the underground.
But Rodriguez isn’t particularly phased by the rumors or the mysterious spaces.
For him, the eeriness comes from talking with guests who have experienced supernatural events in the hotel.
“Mostly it’s just people’s reactions to it,” says Rodriguez.
One man in particular, visited the front desk and shared his story of hearing footsteps in his room and feeling someone sit down on the bed in the middle of the night.
“I started to get chills,” says Rodriguez.
A journal sits at the front desk, where guests are welcome to share their experiences with the supernatural.
The Paranormal Package
Costs an additional $70
Accomodations on the “Haunted Eighth Floor,” if available
A K2 Meter
$25 dining credit to the Vertex or Paddy O’Neill’s
Complimentary valet parking
Entries include everything from seeing figures reflected in the mirror, to doors, drawers and cupboards opening in the middle of the night, and a chilling, common report of the feeling of someone’s hands pressing down on their body in the night.
Anyone eager to experience a taste of the supernatural can visit the hotel’s lobby and page through the guestbook.
Those brave enough to stay on the eighth floor can inquire about the Paranormal Package.
But don’t get too excited. Halloween night is often booked months in advance.
For more information, visit alexjohnson.com.