A picturesque Victorian style hotel sits on the edge of an intersection in Strawberry Point, Iowa. The Franklin Hotel is as haunted as it is beautiful, but that rarely stops guests from staying within the red brick walls and enjoying the top-notch hospitality. Of course, some of that hospitality may be coming from unseen hands and people who disappear in front of your eyes. Would you be frightened if you woke up and the furniture in your comfortable hotel room had been rearranged while you were sleeping? Let’s explore the history and haunts of the Franklin Hotel. 

Originally opened in 1903, the hotel has been serving in its capacity as a grand lodging option for its entire life. Originally, the railroad was very near to the hotel, offering accommodations for travelers and new arrivals on the train alike. Combining the architectural styles, Neoclassical and Romanesque Revival, the two story brick building is striking and memorable. The building was added to the National Historic Register in 1999. While it’s gone through a few renovations, the core style of the hotel remains much as it did in the early days of the 1900s. Some rumors assert that the top floor was once used as a brothel in the town’s wilder age, but no confirmation of this has been found, with the exception of a woman who wanders the halls after her untimely death. 

One of the spirits in the Franklin Hotel is said to be a prostitute who was murdered within the walls. While it’s uncertain if she’s a separate spirit, some say she’s the same apparition that many have reported seeing; the woman in the pale lavender gown. Reports say she’s been heard singing or moaning throughout the halls, with sightings of her spirit gliding through the narrow passageways and sometimes from the wall into the lobby. The room that was previously hers has been reported to be the hotspot of the Franklin hotel, with the woman occasionally rearranging the furniture more to her liking, frightening guests and leaving employees dumbfounded by the sudden and unplanned renovation. 

A report from an employee tells of the woman in the lavender dress sitting at a table in the bar area within the hotel. When he walked up to her to tell her that the bar was closed for the night, she smiled and then suddenly disappeared in front of his eyes. No word on whether the employee stuck around after that, but I’m sure many of us wouldn’t fault him for running out into the night with an experience like that. The lavender lady is still seen throughout the hotel, and her moans and singing can be heard throughout the hallways with no apparent origin. 

Another spirit that the Franklin Hotel reported has is that of a man who ran the hotel laundry for over 30 years. Known as Leo, the spirit has a penchant for ringing the bells in the old hotel bell system; a feature from before telephones were common that allowed guests and employees to call from specific rooms for service and ease of running the hotel. While they’ve long since been replaced by more modern hospitality systems, the bells still ring from Leo every so often, frightening the employees when they realize no one is in the room where the bell was used. Leo, in life, was said to be the glue that held the hotel together, a constant presence for the 42 years he lived in the hotel, 30 of which was spent laundering for the hotel, and even more of it while running his own business next door, a laundry service, aptly. 

The town is also known for the largest fiberglass stawberry in the US.

With a deep history in Strawberry Point, the Franklin still stands tall and proud in its original location, with much of the original furnishing and offering their guests a glimpse into the Victorian period and the early days of settling the Iowa frontier. If you’re not frightened by the ghosts wandering the halls, or your furniture moving around in the night, or even the ghostly sound of a bell in your room— well, you just might have a fantastic stay at the Franklin Hotel, where the hospitality continues into the afterlife. 

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