The Stanley Hotel is known for both its historic and paranormal appeal. It’s the most haunted hotel in the United States. It’s been turned into fiction and it’s been turned into film.
Stephen King stayed here one snowy night at the end of the season. He walked the halls and stayed up late drinking at the bar. What he encountered could not be explained. The General Manager of the Stanley, Rick Benton, explains that King was working on a book about a haunted amusement park; a book that wasn’t working and he knew it. The Stanley, an apparent hub and playground for ghosts and unreal entities set the author on a new path to one of his most celebrated works The Shining. But are these apparitions indeed real? Or is there something else about this haunting hotel?
Benton notes the bedrock beneath the hotel, the quartz and granite that seem capable of trapping and containing energies. Are the atrocities that haunt history still with us? Controversy has stirred up the public imagination over Kubrick’s rendition of The Shining. Was Kubrick defining the story about a frustrated writer not attending to his family’s needs, losing his sense of reality and exploding from within in a murderous rage, or was he discussing a much bigger picture, a more expansive frame of mind?
The actions of just one individual or that of an entire nation, whether evil and unkind or noble and just, seems to be held in memory, and it seems at the Stanley they are held in rooms and hallways. People have cited ghosts of former employees and tourists visiting the hotel. Benton explained it was common during the Great Depression and World War II for grieving widows to commit suicide in private hotels to avoid being buried in a mass grave. There was once a woman that came here to drown her own children and take her own life. Those two young girls supposedly still frolic the fourth floor, horsing around as though the past had never died. At the Stanley the past mixes with the present. The ghosts that still drift about in the hallways, closets, kitchens and ballrooms let their presence be known. Benton can recall his own incidents of passing through apparitions. Guests take photographs of ghosts that reveal something beyond our rational explanations.
Madison Moellers, from the TV Series Shameless calls Estes Park home, Madison is dressed in vintage clothing reminiscent of the little girls on the fourth floor. She looks ghostly and ethereal. Madison is going on contract to Tokyo for her “doll look” with those big blue eyes. Asia is obsessed with girls that look like dolls the way America is obsessed with hauntings and ghosts. Madison played with dolls, giving them names and joining them in with her imaginary friend. Doesn’t every child have an imaginary friend, or are they ghosts? Does the human imagination fade as we age or can we still experience something beyond?
Photography by Rodney Ray
Story by Timothy J. Fuller
All vintage outfits from Fashion by Robert Black
Styling – Emily Choi
Hair & Makeup – Lindsay Solonycze & Mone’t Howard
Model – Actress Madison Moellers
Location – The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado – where horror novelist Stephen King stayed and was inspired to write The Shining. The television mini-series was also shot there, Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures names it as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States.