Written by Konnor Long (Features Writer)
The Brookdale Lodge has been a staple of the San Lorenzo Valley for decades, hosting the likes of Marylin Monroe, President Herbert Hoover, and James Dean. It was first cemented as a mainstay in local history when Judge James Harvey Logan, perhaps known more famously as the creator of the loganberry plant, bought a Creekside Mill and upscaled it into the residence that it has lived on to be. After years of tragedy however, the Brookdale Lodge has become known for its infamy. Its history with devastation and death has given it a new appearance: that of a haunted house.
Due to the recent California wildfires, demolition work on the burnt remains of the back buildings has resumed. These buildings have previously been ravaged by three separate fires.
During the early years of the Brookdale Lodge, it was suspected to be the largest center of crime in the Valley. Gangs would buy out rooms in bulk, believed to have smuggled weapons and moonshine through a hidden staff entrance below the lobby.
This does not compare to the more metaphysical conspiracy surrounding this hotel, the first confirmed death being that of the owner’s cousin, Sarah Logan. It is said that she fell from the second story balcony of the most famous room, the Brook Room. The subsequent owners would hold this conspiracy as an attraction for guests, many of which claimed they heard the ghost of the girl at night or saw her apparition while alone in the Brook Room.
While the legitimacy of this tale is disputable, the indisputable truth of the Brookdale Lodge’s history is its extensive use by criminals. The extent of its use is unknown, but there are stories of killings happening at the hands of high-profile mobsters in the Valley for decades. The 40s and 50s were a low point for the establishment’s history.
During the mobsters’ reign in the 1950s, the famous Brook Room mysteriously burnt down. The second fire happened in 2005, with little to no details on the cause of the actual fire itself, it was ruled undetermined. Many rooms near the back of the hotel burned, requiring over 100 firefighters from the Valley to stop the inferno. The third and final fire was believed to be the product of faulty wiring, in 2007.
Earlier this year, before the buildings were torn down, I was allowed entry into two of the rooms made uninhabitable by the fires. What I first noticed was an incredible amount of clutter. The individuals living in these rooms up until their evacuation didn’t seem to hold any concern towards the menu garbage bags in the corners of the rooms, nor the magazines and debris strewn across the floor. PVC piping and other peculiar items were present, and the image that it paints is that of an unkempt building inhabited by equally unkempt individuals.
The Brookdale Lodge is a place of local legend and its history with crime and hauntings cannot be discredited, but one thing is for sure: currently, it is under new management, and the owners promise us that despite its history, this building will continue to live on, and live up to it’s legendary status once more.