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Conclusion Based On Findings:  Haunted


Holbrooke Hotel - Purcell House
Grass Valley, CA

Investigation: February 2 & 3, 2011

California Paranormal Research conducted a paranormal investigation of the Holbrooke Hotel, in Grass Valley, CA on February 2 & 3, 2011.
Nevada Union High School seniors Stephanie Buck, left, and Rachel Markulis, right, are pictured in Room #20 of the Purcell House.

Photo for "The Union" by Liz Kellar

This outing was a bit different than just a typical paranormal investigation for our team.  It was also a mentoring session for a couple of high school seniors from Nevada Union High School.

The students, Rachel Markulis and Stephanie Buck, decided to do a senior project that's a little out of the ordinary.  Like being a Paranormal Investigator.  Once their project had gotten the school's approval, they eventually connected with Terri Renfroe and our team, with the arrangement we would help mentor them on some investigation and the many aspects that go into a case.

They contacted some of the local establishments in the Grass Valley area, that rumors say could be haunted, to see if they would allow the extended team access for the purpose of performing an investigation.

The new owners of the Holbrooke Hotel were agreeable, so arrangements were made for some of our team to meet with Rachel and Stephanie there.

A bit about the Holbrooke Hotel:

The Holbrooke Hotel was built back in 1862, and over the years, has played host to many famous guests, including Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, James Garfield and prize fighters, "Gentleman Jim" Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons.  Famous authors Mark Twain and Bret Harte were also guests.  The hotel was frequented by entertainers Lola Montez, Lotta Crabtree, and Emma Nevada.  Rumor has it that the infamous highwayman Charles Boles, known as Black Bart, was also a guest of the hotel.

Its Golden Gate Saloon is the oldest continuously operated saloon west of the Mississippi River.

Over its history, the establishment has seen its share of events, both good and bad.  From the gambling, drinking and gun fight days of the Gold Rush, to a 1927 suicide in one of its rooms by a man named John Henry Martin, who cut his own throat with a shaving knife.

No wonder rumors abound about the place being haunted.  Reported occurrences at this location include:

  • Ghost children playing in one of the upstairs rooms and hallway
  • A Victorian Maid who folds your clothes
  • Sounds of chains and banging from inside a wall
  • Rattling and banging on the stall door inside the downstairs women's bathroom
  • Apparition of a man, locally thought to be the highwayman Black Bart in Room #9
  • Apparition of a aged man with striped shirt, boots, spurs, leaning against post in the basement  bar, named the "Iron Room"
  • Dining area - Table 15 - 2 men have been seen sitting at the table counting money, one with a pencil tucked behind his ear, dressed in historical fashion
  • Blonde woman seen going up and down the stairway and upstairs hallway
  • Apparition of Arleta Douglas, a local woman who used to do volunteer work in the area - people claimed to have seen her spirit in the dining room
  • Apparition of a woman in a flowery dress seen in several areas of the kitchen
  • Apparition of a little girl seen in the kitchen and basement areas

The room numbers are a key to their location.  Rooms 1 thru 18 are in the Holbrooke's main hotel, and are named after the many famous guests of the hotel over the years.  Rooms 19 thru 30 are located in the adjoining Purcell House, and are named after famous local gold mines.

We were to meet up with Rachel and Stephanie on the night of the 3rd, however we arrived at the hotel a day earlier.  We met up with Grass Valley's "The Union" reporter, Liz Kellar, so we could give her some background on our team and a general description of what an investigation is usually like.

Anyway, now on to the fun stuff...The Investigation

1st Night – Terri, Nicki and Chuck

We used the first night to scout out the location.  The bar in the hotel as open and busy, so we headed for quieter surroundings.  The hotel staff was nice enough to give us a master key to the unoccupied 11 rooms of their adjoining building, known as the Purcell House.  We spent the bulk of the evening going from room to room holding an EVP session in each.

Around 8 PM, while standing at the front  desk, Nicki said she heard a sound like crackling cellophane and then felt as though someone taller than her had leaned up against her upper back from behind.  Chuck stood in the same spot, and after a few minutes, felt as though someone lightly brushed the back of his hair.  Later, the night manager told us that he too had once also had the back of his head brushed while standing near the doorway across the lobby.

In Room #21, Chuck experienced a visual effect like a sudden zoom in a portion of his vision, similar to looking through a lens and having the lens move distorting the area it covers.  Some time later, Terri experienced a similar visual effect upstairs in Room #26.

The K-II meter appeared to have a significant number to hits in Room #20.  We weren't able to locate a logical cause for the EMF hits, and a good portion of them at least gave us the impression it was interactive to our EVP session's questions.

After being in Room #24 for a little while, the batteries in the H4n voice recorder we were using went dead, even though they were new and had just indicated they had a full charge.  One of the reported effects of a ghost is sudden battery drain, thought to be the result of the spirit drawing on its stored energy in order to appear or otherwise interact.

Upon reviewing the audio, we found we'd obtained a good number of EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) for our effort, which can be heard in the table below.

2nd Night

Once meeting up with Rachel, Stephanie, Karen (Terri's sister) and Liz Kellar ("The Union" reporter), we had enough people to form two separate teams for the evening, allowing us to cover more areas of the hotel and not interfere with each other.  The hotel bar was in full swing again when we started, so we of course found quieter areas to investigate.

"Team Rachel" – Rachel, Nicki, Karen & Liz

"Team Rachel" covered several of the rooms in the main hotel we had keys for, as well as a couple of the rooms in the Purcell House.

In Room #9, the room supposedly haunted by Black Bart and the Victorian Maid, they reported having some problems with the lights not turning off, or turning off only to turn on again.  Chuck spent both nights of his stay at the hotel in this room and never experienced anything odd with the lights, so the cause of their experience is unknown.

Shortly after they got settled in Room #24, Nicki’s camcorder battery went dead, even though she noted it had just indicated it had an hour left on the battery.  After about 10 minutes, Nicki turned it back on and it said it had 87 minutes of battery again and it remained operating for the rest of their investigation.

The table below contains the EVPs captured during their investigation of the Purcell House.

"Team Stephanie" – Stephanie, Terri and Chuck

Terri and Stephanie in Room #20 "Pennsylvania" of the Purcell House

Stephanie in Room #24 "Eldorado" of the Purcell House

Since the hotel's bar was still open for business, "Team Stephanie" concentrated most of their time in the rooms of the Purcell House, which we already knew had resulted in some EVPs from the prior evening.

Room #20 proved to have a lot of K-II meter hits the prior night, which appeared to be both interactive and intelligent, so they started there, and then moved to several other rooms.

Several odd things happened while they were in Room #24.

Chuck was standing by the door to the room and suddenly felt a building pressure in both ears similar to a feeling of being under water.  It stopped as soon as he mentioned the sensation and moved towards the bathroom door.  Stephanie went to stand where Chuck had been and felt nothing out of the ordinary.

Another thing was a significant drain on the battery of Chuck's camcorder, which has an oversized battery  usually lasting 10 to 11 hours of operation time.  While in Room #24 it went from a full charge to only having about 2 hours of battery left.  In this case, the charge level to the battery never returned.

Full Team in Room #1 "Bridal Suite"

Once both teams completed their separate investigations, we all went to Room #1, known as the Bridal Suite to try a combined effort at an extended EVP session and to unwind from the night's activities.  We of course had a voice recorder going at the time, which again captured some additional EVPs, listed below.

Below are the resulting EVPs we obtained from this investigation.

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs):
These are clips from unfiltered, unaltered audio files and slight filtered copies used to clarify what is being said.  However the filtered/altered files are not considered "evidence" in themselves, they are for analysis only, and presented here for that purpose.  EVPs tend to be rather soft voices and oddly modulated, so it helps to use good quality headphones, a higher volume and play the file several times.

  EVP Scale Meaning
  +++ excellent EVP quality
  ++ good, easily understood
  not bad, understandable
  - so-so, understandable but not easily
  -- weak modulation or higher noise, hard to understand
  --- probably an EVP, but very hard to make out, if at all

Raw Audio File
Filtered Audio File


Investigator's Voice  "EVP"  (comments)

1st Night's EVPs

- 110202-000_00-05-36
Room #21 We came to visit you (giggle) - Ya, we’re going through a lot of trouble to talk to people  "That’s the ghost people"  The least they could do ^ is be nice and talk back  (at the point of the ^ a male voice talks over me, saying..) "Well this is just… great"
- 110202-000_00-11-11
Room #21 But I wanted to tell you the Dutch Flat story  "Doctor Retledge" (or something similar)  (footsteps)
- 110202-000_00-26-09
Room #20 Chuck’s got the Terminator up there on - (giggle) ya– Armoire – Terminator - Armoire whatever you call that - cabinet  "Hey, this is my room… Get out of here"  It keeps – going to – oh, went all the way to red
Room #20 Uhm  "Don’t make ‘em leave"  It’s the car "here, yet"  It’s a busy little town
- 110202-000_00-57-18
Room #24 Can you light that up again, can you go over there?  "I can’t"
+ 110202-000_00-58-23
Room #24 "We can’t"  Come on, light all those lights up
- 110202-000_00-59-26
Room #24 Chuck fiddling with the lock – Ya the door won’t close (giggles)  "I keep it open"  Uh oh Chuck, did you break it?
- 110202-000_00-59-50
Room #24 That’s a good screwed up lock – Can you walk by that?  (as Chuck tries to close and lock the door) "We (pop) want it open"  OK (bang of the door)
++ 110202-000_01-00-30
Room #24 It’s hard to see it – there (pop)  "Go away"  (popping sounds)  Oh, there we go
- 110202-000_01-01-14
Room #24 "Are… you… dead?"  You lit it up before we think
- 110202-001_00-22-32
Room #26 Haunted stuff doesn’t stress me out (giggle) – no  "I ain’t movin’"  I find it just interesting as hell
- 110202-001_00-22-49
Room #26 And light this thing up  "I won’t do it"   Light it up
-- 110202-001_00-27-04
Room #26 Or Black Bart?  "Don’t tell her anything else, please"  (gets very soft near the end)
- 110202-001_00-43-35
Room #?? Over the couch and like – Right - attacks my ears, and  "Mine’s stupid"  My dogs are smart
- 110202-001_00-46-11
Room #?? Can you tell us your name?  "Rosie"  or why are you here?
+ 110202-001_01-12-56
Room #20 If you ask too much  "You have to help us" (in a wheezy male voice, as Nicki says..)  If there’s something that you would like to say, say them to that glowing box on the sink

2nd Night's EVPs - "Team Rachel"

-- LS100027_00-03-37
Room #20 Is there a reason why you don’t want to leave – just turning on the camera  (delay) (pop) "Yah"   "I don’t have to"  (beep)
- LS100027_00-07-56
Room #20 Is there someone behind me?  "Yah... there’s me"
+ LS100027_00-19-07
Room #24 Let me make sure nobody in there  (pops and clicks)  "I want it left open"
+ LS100027_00-19-17
Room #24 Is there someone in here?  "I want it open"  We just got to Room #24 and the door was open
- LS100027_00-28-22

Room #24 Like this (knock knock knock) or on the wall (knock knock knock)  "I haven’t learned how to (yet)" (last part is pretty weak)
- LS100027_00-30-51
Room #24 If you need more energy, you can take it from my phone, I have 81 percent battery left  "I didn’t have to yet"  (click) Take all the energy you need from that
- LS100027_00-34-19
Room #24 Can you walk next to that green light again, make it go off?  "I don’t know how to make it go off, I forgot"
- LS100027_00-34-28
Room #24 We’re not leaving until you give us something  "Go look"
+ LS100027_00-56-04
Room #24 "Family"  children (iOvilus app) – What did it say? - children
++ LS100027_01-02-26
Room #24 "I can’t breath"

2nd Night's EVPs - "Team Stephanie"



Room #20

Take a picture  "Help me"  OK, so I’ll start asking questions
(same as the one heard on the recorder)

- 00000_00-20-59
Room #20 I can leave that on if that makes you more comfortable (giggle) – Are you scared of the dark  "I (chuckle) like being in the dark"
+ 00000_00-21-31
Room #20

Can you sit on the bed – And I still have the display light if… "I can’t"  Can you sit on the bed near that thing?
(same as 110203-001_00-20-42)



Room #24 OK, I'm going to place this down here  "On the book"  and if there's anything in this cold cold room  "Talk to me"  that wants to come and say Hello..


Room #25 All you have to do is go near it and it will light up, and make pretty colors... be like a rainbow  "I can’t stay here again"  Do you want us to turn the light off, off  "You can’t"  or you could see the lights?
- 00005_00-07-21
Room #25 Guess you don't care  "You keep bothering me"  (snickering)
+ 110203-001_00-03-39
Room #20 Take a picture –It’s new  "Help me"  OK, so I’ll start asking questions  (same as the one heard on the camcorder)
- 110203-001_00-04-41
Room #20 We took a picture of you and that might have, or around you and that might have scared you, so we’re sorry for that  "Don’t be"  huh – Um, OK
- 110203-001_00-15-58
Room #20 Do you realize you’re dead?  "F__k yes"
+ 110203-001_00-20-09
Room #20

Are you scared of the dark (with Chuck talking in the background, then...)  "I (chuckle) like being in the dark"
(same as the one heard on the camcorder)

- 110203-001_00-20-42
Room #20 Can you sit on the bed - uh ah - And I still have the display light if… "I can’t"  Can you sit on the bed near that thing?
(same as the one heard on the camcorder)
- 110203-001_00-21-40
Room #20 “Out”  Are ^ you above the bed?  (at the ^ point a voice also says "I can’t hear them")
- 110203-001_00-27-25
Room #20 Have you heard of Grass Valley?  "It‘ll be nice if you can hear me first"
- 110203-001_00-41-42
Room #20 It’s actually got a lock on it – Is this your favorite room?  "I have to leave this room for a while"
- 110203-001_00-59-58
Room #24 Did you hear a noise in there? – Ya, I mean it was a creaky noise, it was a while ago – oh – oh  "I’m in the bathroom"  and I got a squeaky floor over here – Are you hiding in the closet
++ 110203-001_01-14-29
Room #20 Cable TV sucks, do you agree?  "___ ____" (male voice saying two words, maybe not be in English)
+ 110203-001_01-16-38
Room #20 I’m curious about ^ something, now for a second  - Well I’ve heard on these when you first turn them on  (at the point of the ^ a male voice says "Don’t move")
++ 110203-001_01-26-50
Room #20 Ya, I locked myself out (door banging)  "What happened?"   Chuck’s an idiot
+ 110203-001_01-27-07
Room #20 I told her we’d be done in like – OK -ten minutes or so and meet them in the lobby – Good  "I have to _____"  Alright, do you want to talk to us some more?  "I have to tell ___"  Do you have anything else to say   "hear me"  Well hopefully say it to the recorders – yes – right here – cause, cause that’s , that’s  ^ where the real proof of anything (at the ^ someone says "I do")
-- 110203-001_01-35-21
Room #20 Can you say goodbye?   "Don’t leave"
-- 110203-001_01-42-30
Room #20 Make it go crazy, lots of lights (snickering)  "It’s ridiculous"  Like a rainbow

2nd Night's EVPs - Full Team in Room #1 "Bridal Suite"

- LS100028_00-10-13
Room #1 Might like that Psychic Circle better  (then what sounds like someone saying) "Who lost the handle?"  I don’t know  "It’s George"  This is like the...
+ LS100028_00-17-04
Room #1 Otherwise, you could have a like Designated Faker, and I could sit there and move the thing anywhere I want  "I wanted to, but now I won’t"  Designated Faker (giggle)
- LS100028_00-30-37
Room #1 Don’t be afraid "Not.... I have to leave"  We’d really really really like it if you’d come near, us and talk to us
- LS100028_00-31-30
Room #1 We heard there’s shadows in this room, is that true?  If so, can you light this up?  "We can’t ____" (can’t make out the last word)


From the recorded EVPs, the fact that many appear to be highly interactive and aware of our presence, we conclude the Holbrooke Hotel and its Purcell House to be Haunted by Intelligent Spirits (i.e. Ghosts).

For more information on the Holbrooke Hotel, here's the URL to their web site:

It's a very comfortable hotel with good food and a nice lively bar/saloon.  We highly recommend a stay there.

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