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1931 Hotel Congress Tucson Arizona
The Hotel Congress[*] built in 1918[*] originally opened its doors to the public in 1919 and has seen more than its share of history. In its current form, the Hotel 'Club' Congress is now a very busy actiove vibrant venue for alternative, trendy, loud, and upscale styled nightlife in a busy fun section of downtown Tucson. It is a unique historical hotel, a little 1940s diner, part old fashioned tavern, and part jumping busy crowded noisy local night club. During the 1930s and 1940s its Tap Room Bar was at different times a secret safe haven for Gays and Bisexuals. In current times, the Hotel 'Club' Congress[*] offers a very wide range of live musical entertainment and other options for trendy locals, university and college students, curious travelers and tourists, and others.
Then There Are The Ghosts!
A good looking middle aged man in a 1930s old-fashioned gray suit with a long gold watch chain[*] who was murdered during a April 1st 1931 poker game and hidden under the bed as the game continued on that floor has sometimes been seen peering out from the second story windows of unoccupied rooms on that floor looking to continue his life again. The Congress Street Hotels[*] Room 242 was sometimes called the suicide room, after a young woman working as a bar maid in the 1940s took her life following her breakup with a married high ranking 1940s local official and a resulting midnight stand-off with authorities that ended in a hail of gunfire from which her death from 29 bullets was officially listed as a suicide. The bullet hole in the rooms closet still eerily gives one an unsettling connection to the events of that bloody night.
Guests have reported hearing strange noises and seeing the ghostly apparition of the woman walking up and down the hallway and the room's bathroom. Often the smell of roses can be found along the lobby's stairwell. Off and on for years, hotel staff members have been finding old fashioned flat butter knives scattered around on the second floor. Vince, a resident at the Congress Hotel for over 37 years, had been known for stealing the knives from the kitchen and around town during the 1960s and 1970s, until his mysterious death in 2001 during a full moon when he was attacked by a desert bobcat in the alley.
The sidewalk outside which was built in the late 1800s before the Hotel Congress also reveals an untold mystery. In the outdoor café that fronts the Tap Room and Lobby Bars, you can still see parts of the pavement embedded with thick multi colored bubbles of old glass shards. The glass was put in there to allow light to filter down to a spooky series of long closed off tunnels below the sidewalk that once ran around underneath the original downtown areas.
The tunnels were originally used in the 1800s[*] for many of the Chinese workers[*] [*]to get to and from their job sites around downtown Tucson during a time in the United States[*] when Anti_Chinese Laws[*] [*] [*] and numerous illegal discrimination practices in the United States forbid those of Chinese ancestory[*] to walk the city's streets or mingle with the other citizens.[*]
However, the other use of the tunnels after dark was far much more sinister.
Saloon owners, gamblers, thieves, the 'Tucson Vigilante Committee'[*] and nefarious others used the tunnels at will after dark. Those out at night sometimes 'disappeared' down into the underground tunnels and were never seen again. It is said that their restless spirits that were never able to fulfill their lives still prowl the downtown streets of Tucson late at night.
On January 22, 1934, a fire started [*] in the basement of the Hotel Congress[*] when an employee's cigarette ignited some table cloths. It quickly spread all the way up to and engulfed the third floor. Frightened hotel guests began running into the streets, many in their underwear or naked, while others began climbing out of the windows of the hotel. Among the guests were two men standing outside in the street only in their underwear who anxiously pleaded and bribed some of the firefighters[*] to go up and retrieve their luggage.
When that luggage was later recovered and one bag accidentally opened up, the bag and others were found to contain three Thompson .45 caliber sub-machine guns, two 30-30 Winchester rifles, five military bullet-proof vests, 4 hand grenades, 3 bottles of dark Cuban Rum, a glass eyeball, a skeletons hand, and $38,000 in cash along with $7,500 in gold coins from the United States Mint.
Most of that money along with the gold coins disappeared and has never been found.[*]
Before long Russell 'Killer' Clark[*], Charles 'The Knife' Makley[*], Harry 'Gunner' Pierpoint[*], and their ringleader, John 'Dapper' Dillinger[*][*], were all arrested by Tucson Police Oficers[*] in what was the short lived end of their freedom and soon to be repeated nation-wide manhunts for them all over again. The men were all transferred to another state to stand trial for their many murders but escaped prison there and then went right back on the road to commit more crimes.
The Tucson Police Department[*] kept all of the items found in the luggage, however over time the only remaining items that can be accounted for are the machine guns which are on display at the Tucson Police Department Headquarters [*].
Over the years since the events surrounding the capture of the Dillinger Gang[*], some employee's of the Hotel 'Club' Congress[*] have reported feeling a skeletons hand touch their shoulders or necks during their years while working at the Hotel. The glass eyeball[*] is still said to be heard moving across the floors of the kitchen and along the top of the bars very late at night long after closing time during the cleanups[*].
On November 1st 1997 an old grey haired man in a very tattered black suit appeared at the bar late one night near closing time with an old bottle of real Cubana Rum under his jacket. The bartender reminded him he could not bring his own bottle into the bar. The mysterious man then rented a room up on the 2nd floor paying the front desk clerk with some old United States currency, and invited the bartender along with a few other employee's up to have a drink in his room later. After drinking and talking for well over an hour with the employees as if he had once lived or stayed at the hotel a long time ago, the old man said he was going to take a shower and asked them all to come back in a half an hour.
Upon their return the room was empty with no signs that the man had ever been there. The glasses they had drank from were all mysteriously clean and unused, the trash can was empty. A quick check with the desk clerk downstairs revealed that no one had left the hotel to his knowledge.
Quickly, the desk clerk became really curious about the old man, and checked the man's sign in card he had watched him fill out on the counter with the ink pen still stitting there on the desk counter[*]. Unexplainably, the card was completely blank. The clerk then used his key and opened up the cash register but quickly found all the old large sized United States currency[*] had vanished.
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