A look inside the Palmer House – central Minnesota's haunted hotel

Call it what you will, but something in there definitely messed with our video footage.
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It's been called one of the most haunted places in Minnesota.

The Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre was built back in 1901 to replace a similar building that had burned down. Today, it's still a hotel, restaurant and pub. Did we mention it's also home to a bunch of ghosts?

For the most part, the ghosts (or spirits) aren't there to harm anybody; they're mostly friendly and don't mean to bother guests, Kelley Freese, the owner of the hotel, told GoMN. Occasionally they might move your things around, give you a little shove or even snuggle with you in bed.

Or if you go in there with a video camera, like we did, you might get home and realize the ghosts nabbed little bits and pieces of your footage.

Other than that, it's just a small-town, historic hotel. It has a friendly cat that demands attention from guests. Of course, it's a ghost cat. We felt it in the basement, although it's known to spend a lot of time in room 11.

Stories that didn't make the video

Freese has owned the century-old building since 2002 and has more stories than we could ever put in a video.

Like, she's seen a handful of full-body apparitions – many of which she approached, thinking they were visitors looking for a room.

"There was nothing about some of them ... that indicated out of place, out of time, out of space," Freese explained, emphasizing how real they looked.

One apparition Freese hadn't seen in years reappeared a few months ago wearing a bright red head wrap. At the time, the hotel was flooded with people for an event; however, only a handful of people were able to see the woman.

Later on, Freese was going through photos and was able to recognize the woman as the old "Palmer's daughter."

There's also more to the snowman story we touched on in our video. Our footage – video camera and GoPro – cut out during this story, but Freese says they bring the electronic snowman upstairs during the winter as a festive decoration.

The snowman will often move and dance with kids. Which is cute, unless you know it's not plugged in.

Overall, those who work at the Palmer House say some of the creepiest things are what happen in real life. Kara Lewis, a manager, says she doesn't like going in the basement – not because that's where some spirits hang out, but because it's a flat-out creepy-looking basement. And the one time she went down there alone, a (living) bird flew up at her, and she was so scared she had to crawl for help.

"The living are way scarier than the dead," Lewis says.

History of the hotel

Ralph L. Palmer and Christena J. Palmer built The Palmer House Hotel in 1901, a year after a fire destroyed the Sauk Centre House (a boarding house and brothel) that sat on the site. Some believe the Palmer House was built on the same footings, but it's not known for sure because there isn't a lot of history available on the hotel, Kelley Freese, the owner of the hotel, told GoMN.

The Palmer House was a modern, first-class hotel for its time, and was one of the first buildings outside the Twin Cities to have electricity and plumbing.

The 38-room hotel became a popular place to stay for businessmen traveling by rail, and Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis used the Palmer House to model the Minniemashie House in his 1920 novel Main Street.

The Palmer House got a makeover in 1993, reducing the number of rooms from 38 to 19 (and adding a bathroom to each of them), before Kelley and her husband bought the hotel in 2002.

Since then, the Palmer House has become known as one of the most haunted places in Minnesota. The hotel's website lists different paranormal experiences people have had there, and it's become a popular place for ghost hunting teams, like the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures, to visit.

For more on the history of the Palmer House, click here.

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