Haunted Tours at the Dudly Hotel Fridays & Saturday’s this Month
By Eric Hund
Univ. of Pitt. at Bradford
Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes thoughts of ghouls and ghosts and the buildings they haunt. With that in mind, a tour of the historic Dudley Hotel is in order. Every Friday and Saturday in October, the Dudley Hotel hosts a Haunted Hotel Tour that features both the scares and screams of a Halloween haunted house attraction and the potential to observe paranormal activity in a supposedly haunted building. The Haunted Hotel Tour runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and costs $12 for adults and $10 for students with valid ID cards.
Hotel owner Laura Dorfman said the guided tour that starts from the hotel’s lobby and proceeds up the staircase to the first floor, where the usual Halloween haunted house monsters will greet guests, including the likes of Hollywood creations Chucky and Freddy Krueger. The tour will continue along the first floors main hallway then down two flights of stairs to the hotel’s 143-year-old basement where actual ghost sightings and activity have been reported. Dorfman said that the hotel’s basement is “naturally creepy on its own,” with exposed brick walls, low ceilings and many small crawlspaces throughout.
She added that much of the reported activity revolves around the laundry room located in the basement, and is often reported by the housekeepers, since they spend a large amount of their work time there.
Melissa Liberatore is the tour guide for the event and is one of the reasons the Haunted Hotel Tour is so popular. Liberatore makes such a great tour guide because she herself has experienced some of the strange activity in the hotel. Since so much activity is reported in the laundry room, one part of the tour involves leaving the tour group locked in the room with the lights off for a few minutes, in the hope that they will witness a paranormal event. A typical show lasts about 15 to 20 minutes, and many of the guests say the show is one of the scariest haunted house style tours they have seen. Dorfman does not view the activity reported at the Dudley to be a frightening, with none of the dark scary feeling she associates with most peoples’ idea of a haunting, but more like little playful tricks and pranks.
She said many of the housekeepers report items being moved, doors opening or closing by themselves and glasses hovering in the air before falling off shelves. She added that one event involved a large ornate punch bowl falling four feet off a counter and landing upside down without breaking with no one around it.
Another case of ghost sighting involved a painter who was doing work for Dorfman claiming to see the ghost of a man in the basement. She said the description of the man resembled that of a former hotel maintenance man who had died. Another sighting involved two members of the hotel staff witnessing a man walking past them in the lobby and out through a closed door. A review of the hotel’s security camera did not reveal anything unusual. Even those playing characters in the tour have had encounters.
Dorfman said one of the girls playing a character during last year’s tour claimed to feel the presence of someone, and someone breathing on her neck, in the small room she would hide in while waiting for the tour group to reach her. The room she was in was very small, and that the only way in or out was through a small door, so there was no way anyone else could have snuck into the room with her.
Another case was that of a housekeeper who ran screaming from the basement and was obviously very upset. The woman handed Dorfman her keys, and said that while she enjoyed working at the hotel, she was leaving and never coming back, and she could not say what happened to her.
Some have claimed that the ghosts seen in the hotel is that of Charles Dudley. Charles H. Dudley built the hotel, then known as the Dudley House, in 1868 to take advantage of the newly chartered city of Salamanca’s location as the terminus for the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company. The original three-story hotel, which had all wood construction, burnt down in September 1880 along with 28 other buildings. The rebuilt Dudley House, this time composed of brick, remained in the Dudley family until 1901 when it was sold to the prominent Torge family of Salamanca.
A second fire in 1913 destroyed the hotel’s interior, and the building once again needed to be restored. The Torge family sold the hotel to George Kissak Enterprises in 1960, and the hotel was renamed the Dudley Motor Hotel. Lance Shaner bought the hotel in 1979, and ten years later, he sold the hotel to Don Krantz and Robert Hoag. In 2001, Don and Sandy Hill of Western Door Enterprises bought the hotel and began renovations to the lobby, restaurant, banquet center and lounge. They eventually sold the hotel to their vice president of marketing and current hotel owner, Laura Dorfman. A number of celebrities and politicians have visited the Dudley Hotel over the years, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Tanya Tucker, Louise Mandrel and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Dudley Hotel is located at 132 Main Street, Salamanca.
For more information on the event, or to make reservations to stay at the hotel contact (716)-945-2002.