The Skirvin Hilton Hotel has a reputation for being haunted. It’s a story told by NBA basketball players time and again – phantom pains, spooky creaks, creepy cries. It’s the legend of Effie, a housekeeper, W.B. Skirvin’s short-term love affair, and her descent to insanity.
NBA players from the New York Knicks claim their game was off after a night of haunts at the hotel in 2010. So have other NBA players staying at the hotel according to this 2014 New York Times article.
Maybe the ghost is attracted to NBA players, as there was another experience in 2016 by a Los Angeles Lakers teammate according to this article from KFOR .
But as we walked into the Skirvin Hotel, all our fears disappeared. The hotel is more Haute than haunted, old-world luxurious drawn-out by patterned carpets, plush seats, and ornate lighting.
If there were a ghost at the Skirvin Hilton, it would more Casper The Friendly Ghost and less Stephen King novel. The Skirvin Hilton Hotel is lively, energetic, and upbeat. It’s the kind of place where a ghost would dance not wail.
Not only is it one of the absolute best hotels in Oklahoma City, but the downtown Skirvin Hotel is also one of the metro’s most historic establishments. But is it haunted? That’s the question many want to know. Let’s review a brief history of the Skirvin Hotel including ghost stories and reported hauntings.
History of the Skirvin
The Skirvin Hotel built in 1910 by oilman W.B. Skirvin, who was determined to have the finest hotel in the Southwest. Skirvin approached Solomon A. Layton, a famous area architect who had designed the Oklahoma State Capitol building, and plans were finalized for a 6-story, U-shaped hotel. But in late 1910, just as construction of the fifth story neared completion, Layton convinced Skirvin that OKC’s growth justified ten stories rather than six.
On September 26, 1911, Skirvin opened the newly completed luxury hotel to the public. The plush hotel had two, 10-story towers containing 224 rooms. It was one of the first buildings in Oklahoma City to have air conditioning, then called “iced air,” had running water in each room, a ballroom that seated 500, and imported Austrian chandeliers that cost more than $100,000 each.
The lobby was decorated in English Gothic, and the wings of the hotel contained a drugstore, retail shops, and a cafe. The hotel had 225 rooms and suites, each with a private bath, telephone, hardwood furniture, and velvet carpet.
According to many accounts, the hotel became a center for well-known businessmen and politicians over the next ten years. Skirvin began to expand the hotel, slowly at first, building a new 12-story wing and then eventually raising all wings to 14-stories by 1930. This increased the room total to 525 and added a roof garden, a cabaret club as well as doubled the lobby size.
Skirvin’s daughter, Perl Mesta, brought the hotel a national reputation by becoming the ambassadress to Luxembourg and then as Washington’s “Hostess with the Mostess”. She was also portrayed in the famed Broadway musical, “Call Me Madam.”
William Skirvin operated the hotel until his death in 1944. After his death, Skirvin’s three children decided to sell the property to Dan W. James in 1945. James immediately began modernizing the hotel extensively, adding numerous amenities such as room service, a beauty shop, a barbershop, a swimming pool, and a house physician. The Skirvin grew in prominence as it hosted Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. But by 1959, suburban sprawl was severely hurting downtown OKC, and James sold the Skirvin hotel to Chicago investors in 1963. It was then sold yet again in 1968 to H.T. Griffin.
Modern History of the Skirvin
Griffin spent millions remodeling the Skirvin Hotel, but business continued to suffer and finally Griffin filed for bankruptcy in 1971. After changing hands a few times, the hotel underwent more renovations in the 1970s, then again in the early 1980s, but it eventually closed in 1988.
In 2002, the city of Oklahoma City acquired the property and put together a financing package to “renovate, restore and reopen” the Skirvin Hotel. It finally reopened on February 26, 2007.
Our room was on the eleventh floor, one floor above where many have reported the hauntings. I was way too excited to take in the views so I almost skipped (y’all, I wish I was joking) towards the curtains to look outside. Our room had amazing views of the downtown Oklahoma City skyline. OKC is beautiful y’all! When the sun went down, the landscape is lit up by blue and orange lights. Late-night lights bring the city to life under the moonlight.
The room, itself, is more than comfortable
The one Bedroom Rotunda Suite features an oversized living area with an adjoining bedroom with a king size bed. The living aread has a sofa, chairs, large work desk, 55” flat panel LCD TV, high-speed wired and wireless internet access, two phones, data port, voice mail, and a coffee maker. We also had an iron & board, 2 terry cloth robes, and 2 complimentary bottles of water. The bed was amazing and so comfortable with six fluffy pillows. And the view!
I stepped into the bathroom, which is long and spacious. There was a huge walk in shower at the far end beutifully tiled. The aged vanity, shadowy beige wallpaper, and large mirror all make a normally mundane area feel slightly gothic. I finally understood the root of all the ghost stories. The Skirvin Hilton is a classic old hotel – charming but low-lit. It’s a place with a ton of character.
The moment we walked into the Skirvin Hilton, I fell head-over-heels for the details. We even ventured down to the basement during our stay where there is an entertainment hub complete with a pool and gym. Still no sigh of a ghost.
With grand ballrooms and spacious conference rooms, the second floor of the Skirvin Hilton switches from historic to regal.
As we wandered around, we were able to drink in all the history. Golden curtains, light fixtures that spider down into beads, bold carpeting – everything here is opulent and plush.
The Skirvin Haunting
The ghost story of the Skirvin Hotel centers around a young maid nicknamed “Effie.” According to legend, William Skirvin had an affair with Effie, and she became pregnant. To avoid scandal, he supposedly locked her in a room on the 10th floor, which originally was the top floor. She grew desolate there when she was not allowed to leave, even after giving birth. She is said to have jumped, with her infant child in her arms, out of the window.
It has also been reported throughout the hotel’s existence, guests complaining about the inability to sleep due to the incessant sounds of a child crying. Also, according to some, a nude Effie is known to even appear to male hotel guests while showering, and her voice can be heard propositioning them. Staff members have reported everything from strange noises to things moving by themselves.
The Effie legend is a popular one, but there is no historical evidence for it. William Skirvin is said to have been a noted womanizer and the 10th floor was likely a very popular spot for gamblers and prostitutes in the 1930s. Writers Steve Lackmeyer and Jack Money did extensive research for their book Skirvin, but found no evidence of an Effie. The only recorded suicide at the Skirvin was that of a salesman who jumped from his window.
Downtown Oklahoma City
This iconic hotel is situated at the corner of Broadway and Park Avenue. The Skirvin Hilton hotel is conveniently located at the center of Downtown Oklahoma City near Bricktown. When you book a stay there, you’ll quickly find that there are numerous nearby attractions and activities. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the Chesapeake Energy Arena home to OKC Thunder basketball, the Civic Center Music Hall to see your favorite musical artist.
So, is the Skirvin Hotel haunted? Who knows? But it’s fun to speculate and roam around the beutiful historic hotel looking.
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Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own. P.S. There’s a pretty good chance that this post includes affiliate links, which means I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.