The Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation Places with a Past Historic Homes and Buildings Tour returns on Aug. 5, with haunting recall of lore and legend about ghosts flitting here and there. Visit Montezuma Castle (United World College), the Plaza Hotel, the Castañeda or some of the legendary homes around town and you will be amazed and delighted by the mystery in the history.
Do I believe in ghosts? I reserve judgment since years ago I lived in a spirited house in town. I say spirited because it was not haunted in the sense that something weird lived there. Quite the contrary. It did not appear as a ghostly apparition, but as a bright light flashing just on the periphery of vision. The spirit could be almost seen day or night. I thought of it more like an angel watching over me. I won’t tell you where the house is, but I hope the people who live there now appreciate that friendly spirit as much as I did.
Ghost Stories is the brain child of tour guide and owner of Southwest Detours, Kathy Hendrickson, who is also a CCHP board member. From whence did this idea spring? This Q&A with Kathy reveals the story behind her ghostly vision.
ORP: PWAP has been the major fundraiser for CCHP for many years. Talk about the challenge of making old ideas new again so you not only have new visitors but return visitors as well.
Kathy: This is my fifth year as Chairperson for the PWAP Tour and every year is a challenge to think of a new idea for the tour. There are so many events going on this time of year, it is a challenge to bring visitors to our town. I have been thinking of this ghost theme for awhile, mainly because I have heard so many folks talk about ghosts here. In fact, as soon as we bought our old Victorian, the former tenants told me that we have a female ghost living on our 3rd floor, thus the reason my house is on the tour!
ORP: Why did you select this theme?
Kathy: Ghosts stories seem to appeal to everyone, even when you say you don’t believe. Las Vegas was the “Wild West” and if you read about the history, there were hangings on our lovely Plaza, thus there must be ghostly spirits around.
ORP: How many homes and properties are on the tour this year?
Kathy: There are nine places on the tour this year. Four beautiful Victorians and five historic buildings, all with interesting tales of restless souls.
ORP: Since the theme is ghostly, how did you go about selecting properties?
Kathy: Well, for one, my home has a ghost story, so that was a no brainer. I had heard ghost stories about the other properties I chose for the tour. Luckily the owners agreed to open their homes and buildings for the tour. And I only selected properties that have friendly spirits.
ORP: The popular sites are the United World College, fondly known as Montezuma Castle, the Castañeda and the Plaza Hotel, all of which host ghosts. What home properties and stories surprised you when you were putting the tour together?
Kathy: I don’t want to give the stories away, but there is one home on the tour in particular that has a very active ghost within. I had heard there was a ghost in this home and that two previous owners had moved because of the apparition, but after listening to the current homeowner tell her personal experiences with the spirit, it raised the hairs on my arm.
ORP: What reactions have you received about the theme of this year’s tour?
Kathy: I was surprised to find out how many folks are interested in spirits and ghostly tales. Even if you don’t believe, you are curious to hear the stories.
ORP: What is the most intriguing ghost story you’ve heard while putting the tour together?
Kathy: Not to give anything away, but in one of the homes, a ghost tucks the owners’ daughter in bed at night.
ORP: Have you ever seen a ghost?
Kathy: I was never a believer in ghosts, but now I am rethinking everything. After we bought our old Victorian, I heard many noises at night, and thought I saw someone in our room one evening. I always came up with a logical reason for hearing or seeing something. Now, after doing the ghost research, I’m not sure.
ORP: What do you most want people to know about the Ghost Stories tour?
Kathy: Even if you are afraid to be afraid, or don’t believe in ghostly spirits, you will enjoy exploring some beautiful historic homes and buildings and hearing about their histories. We will also have a special added attraction to the tour this year. The Ghost Paranormal Investigators team will be present to do two demonstrations during the day, and show folks how they investigate the paranormal phenomena of a haunted building. This husband and wife team have been featured on the Travel Channel Ghost Adventurers Show.
ORP: Have you had success recruiting docents for this ghostly adventure, and how are you preparing them to keep the ghosts at bay while revealing their secrets?
Kathy: This is the first time the CCHP has ever had a Ghost Story themed tour. I think the docents are excited about doing something new and fun. Hopefully the ghosts will enjoy being shown off, too. The Las Vegas Harvey Girls and Fred will be the docents at the Castañeda Hotel. This is for all those Fredheads out there.
ORP: Do you want to name the properties on the tour?
Kathy: I will let folks be surprised to see the places when they purchase a ticket.
What: Ghost Stories, 2017 Places With a Past Historic Homes & Buildings Tour
When: Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: Nine selected properties
Cost: $25 per person
Tickets: CCHP, 116 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM
Photo Kathy Hendrickson, Fred Harvey/Mary Colter Fan Club
Photo at Castañeda, Martha Johnsen