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Nestled deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains lies the historic Brookdale lodge. Surrounded by giant redwoods, Brookdale Lodge was originally opened in 1870 as the headquarters of the Grover Lumber Mill. The mill was purchased by H.J. Logan of Loganberry fame in 1900 and was converted into campgrounds and a hotel. Since then the lodge has passed through numerous hands.
Between 1922 and 1945 the lodge was operated by Dr. F. K. Camp, a Seventh-day Adventist physician and a strict prohibitionist. It was Camp that built the magnificent Brookroom, a dining room that encloses a natural stream flowing down its center. This was the lodge's heyday. The Brookdale was the second most popular resort in California and played host to Hollywood stars, prominent families, foreign diplomats, and even a U.S. President. Famous persons passing through Brookdale Lodge included: Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Tyrone Power, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, and President Herbert Hoover. The lodge was also famous for its first rate entertainment, attracting the best big band and swing groups of the era. There are at least three swing era songs written about the Brookdale including, My Brookdale Hideaway, A Place known as Brookdale, and Beautiful Brookdale Lodge.
Shortly before his death, Dr. Camp sold the property in 1945 to A. T. Cook and W. G. Smith. In 1951 it was again sold to a consortium of San Francisco businessmen and then to Barney Marrow, who also owned the Brookdale Inn across the highway.
It was in the '40's and '50's that the lodge entered its most intriguing period, becoming a home for gangsters and other shady characters. Secret passageways and hidden rooms were installed throughout the lodge and rumors of buried bodies under the floor began to circulate. Also during this time, six year old Sarah Logan, the niece of the lodge owner, drowned in the dining room creek. It's her ghost that is most often seen at the Brookdale. But Sarah wasn't the only watery death at the lodge. In 1972, a 13 year old girl drowned in the kidney shaped pool above the mermaid room forcing its closure.
Over the years there have been many sightings of little Sarah Logan. She is often seen in a white and blue Sunday dress walking through the lobby or near the fireplace between the lounge and Brookroom. She has also been seen playing on the balcony of the Brookroom, an area off limits to visitors and guests, and sitting beside the fire in the Fireside Room.
Some have even been approached by the crying Sarah asking if they could help her find her mother. As they turn to look for the little girl's mother, Sarah vanishes. The sightings aren't limited to visitors. The owners of Brookdale Lodge have also seen Sarah running about the lodges' lobby. From their description, Sarah was, "very clear, like a whole person" and wore a 1940's style formal dress. She ran silently across the lobby for about five seconds before disappearing through the office window. The owners must have been quite "spooked" because soon after the they hired several priests and psychics to try and rid the lodge of its spirits.
The niece isn't the only paranormal activity visitors to the lodge have experienced. In the Mermaid Room visitors have experienced hearing voices, the clinking of glasses, and soft music when the room was empty. The jukebox located here has been known to turn itself on and off when nobody is near it.
When the Brookroom is empty you can sometimes hear glasses and plates clinking and people talking as if dozens of ghostly diners are having a meal. A ghostly woman, has been seen walking over the brook as if supported by a bridge removed long ago. Psychics speculate that she is the mother of Sarah Logan returned to find her daughter. The smell of gardenias often permeates the room at night although there are no gardenias in the Brookroom or the lodge. Could this be the perfume of Sarah's mother?
Big band music has been heard playing faintly in the Fireside Room and in the Pool Room. People have also reported cold spots, presences, and even being touched by unseen forces in the Pool Room.
Late at night doors slam and footsteps are often heard in empty rooms. They are particularly loud from the second floor conference room. Many have reported strange smells and having a sense that the room is full of people when it is empty. Psychics have identified one of the conference room spirits as a man by the name of George. He is a lumberjack and has also been encountered behind the lodge at a place where in the lodge's early years they chopped wood for its many fireplaces.
In the 1970's a wing of motel rooms was built over the spot where once stood the lodge's camping cabins. Room 46 of the motel wing is reported to be very haunted. A woman who worked at the lodge in exchange for lodging has reported that at night objects and shapes would fly across the room. Ghostly ballroom dancers would swirl around leering at her as they floated by. Ghosts would materialize around her bed, their faces sometimes vague and sometimes very very clear. One of the ghosts was a little boy, perhaps 12 or 13 years old, another was a man with his eye hanging loose on his cheek, and still another was a man with a knife wound across his face. Not all of her experiences in room 46 were visual. She also reports that once she felt somebody sit on the edge of her bed and stroke her arm.
The current owners have been told by psychics that, in all, there are 49 spirits in residence at the Brookdale. Enough to make it more than worth a visit.
In addition to it's paranormal interest, the Brookdale Lodge is centrally located to all the attractions and activities of the Santa Cruz mountains and a nice place to stay. If you are just driving through I recommend you stop for their very nice Sunday champagne brunch in the Brookroom. (9:30 - 2 PM)
Anytime you visit I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the charm, beauty, history, and the wonderful "live" entertainment provided by the lodge. To see exactly what I mean you'll just have to visit for yourself.
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