Frank J. McCoy, who came to the Santa Maria Valley in 1904 to work for the new Union Sugar plant, saw that a comfortable hotel was needed and proceeded to build The Historic Santa Maria Inn. His love of flowers can still be seen throughout the Inn such as the award-winning Rose Garden, which to this day contains some of his original plantings and has become the favored backdrop for weddings. The Patio, which hosted McCoy’s first flower gardens, is now a quiet retreat with its antique water fountain and brick courtyard. The Inn’s famous daily floral arrangements of years past have been immortalized in the beautiful stained glass windows
Built in 1917, Presidents, ambassadors, actors and actresses, and corporate magnates stopped at the Santa Maria Inn while winding their way along California’s historic El Camino Real between San Francisco and Los Angeles–first via buggy and later by motorcars. Whatever the mode of transportation, in the Grand Old Days or yesterday, road weary travelers have come to The Historic Santa Maria Inn to rest and refresh.
Some years after its original opening, rumors began to circulate that the graceful Santa Maria Inn was harboring a persistent phantom resident, referred to by the staff as the “Captain”. During a recent renovation of the Inn two people staying in room 103 reported hearing doors open and close and people walking, yet when they checked, there was no one there and the hotel was secured for the night.
When the Inn was re-opened after the renovation, one of the gardeners also reported seeing the image of a man standing on one of the landings of the outside stairways. He thought it was one of the guests until it vanished away into nothingness right before his eyes and in broad daylight. The man walked into the Inn as white as a sheet and said, “I just saw the Captain.”
the curtains in room 216 sometimes billow by themselves–even when the windows are closed.A member of the company that manages the Inn today confided that, “He (the Captain) is all around the place”.
On September 3, 1989, a group of ghost hunters led by psychic Debbie Christenson Senate along with Author Richard Senate, checked in the Santa Maria Inn to investigate the rumors. Their attempt was to determine if the Inn was really haunted. For twenty-four hours they wandered the halls, performed a number of experiments and questioned the staff about the mysterious “Captain”. Debbie agreed to act as medium in the experiment. At midnight, in the room where a majority of the psychic experiences have been reported, they gathered to conduct a séance in an attempt to communicate with the specter.
The medium slumped forward in her chair. In the dim light her face seemed to relax, then it became contorted with pain. (Richard): “Who are you?” (Debbie): “Who am I?” (Richard): “Who are you?” (Debbie): “Peppy” (Richard): “Peppy? Are you Mexican?” (Debbie): “No silly, it’s my name.” (Richard): “Peppy is a Mexican name isn’t it?” (Debbie): “No, it’s my name. Are you waiting for me?” (Richard): “Who are you waiting for?” (Debbie): “I am waiting for the limousine that WR is sending for me.” (Richard): “Who is WR? Is he your husband?” (Debbie): “WR is Mr. Hearst silly.” (Richard): “You know Mr. Hearst?” (Debbie): “Yes very well.” (Richard): “What year is it?” (Debbie): “1935.” (Richard): “Do you often go to Hearst’s castle?” (Debbie): “To the ranch. I often travel with my aunt.”
(Richard): “Aunt? Who is your aunt?” (Debbie): “Marion.” (Richard): “Did you work for Mr. Hearst?” (Debbie): “Once.” (Richard): “What did you do for Mr. Hearst?” (Debbie): “In London I worked for one of his magazines as a writer.” (Richard): “Peppy? What kind of name is that?” (Debbie): “I am called Peppy because I am always peppy.” (Richard): “Did you stay at the castle much?” (Debbie): “I spent a lot of time at the ranch. I use to stay over at the Casa Del Mar.” (Richard): “What is the Casa Del Mar?” (Debbie): “I’m cold, I’m cold. Do you have any coke?” (Richard): “Coke? Do you want a Coca-Cola?” (Debbie): “No silly, coke. I need some real bad. I’m cold.” (Richard): “Cold?” (Debbie): “Yes, I want it now!” (Richard): “What do you want to do with coke?” (Debbie): “I take it.” (Richard): “Take it? You mean cocaine?” (Debbie): “Yes. Coke, uppies.” (Richard): “You took drugs?” (Debbie): “For my sinuses. Are they here yet?” (Richard): “Did you telephone them?” (Debbie): “Yes, I know they forgave me. Hasn’t the car arrived yet?” (Richard): “Why did they need to forgive you? What did you do to Mr. Hearst?” (Debbie): “Get me some coke. Please get me some.” (Richard): “What happened? Why did you start taking cocaine?” (Debbie): “I was sick. Alma used to give it to me.” (Richard): “Who is Alma?” (Debbie): “You know Alma, Alma Rubens. She used to live upstairs from me in New York.” (Richard): “You acquired coke from her?” (Debbie): “Yes, I’ve got to go now.” (Richard): “Did you stay at the Santa Maria Inn?” (Debbie): “Yes, I’m sorry but I have to go now. Do you see the limousine?” (Richard): “Peppy why do you have to go?” (Debbie): No response. (Richard): “Peppy?” (Debbie): No response.
The team had expected to receive information on a mysterious “Captain” and instead communicated with a young cocaine addict. Research is still underway to identify if such and individual with the name of “Peppy” lived, and if so, if she was some way related to Marion Davies, William Randolph Heart’s mistress.
Researchers at the Hearst Castle State Park did say that a sister to Marion may have had that nickname. They did confirm that there is a Casa Del Mar and it was the guest house most used by the Hearst and Davies families. There was an actress named Alma Rubens who did work for the Hearst film company. She was a confirmed drug addict and died of an overdose in the mid 1930?s. Still, research may someday prove or disprove the existence of “Peppy”.
The Team recorded several odd events in their ghost hunt, but none were conclusive. Some of the team members recorded a number of odd events. Ora Philips stated that, “In front of room 144 I felt a distinct chill”. Diane Erdelyis recalled that “During the séance I felt a jolt under the table. The lights in the séance room flickered and pulsated”. Edward Hanson remembered that, “I was taking a shower and reached for the bar of soap and it moved. It just floated across the room”. One couple heard footsteps in their room and several heard knocks and raps late at night…..
Does the ghost of Peppy still walk the halls of Santa Maria Inn waiting for the limousine to take her on to Hearst castle? Or did the phantom car arrive, at long last, to transport the weary soul to a heavenly Hearst castle, where all is as it should be and WR still holds court over his estate in the clouds?
Last Edited by on Mar 09, 2012 5:01 PM
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