Remember When: The Brookdale Lodge

By Melissa Duge Spiers

A little girl died in the Brook Room and haunts the lodge, giggling and running through the hallways or mournfully searching for her mother. When they weren’t torturing victims in underground passages or the infamous “meat locker,” mobsters sat around the Mermaid Room bar peering through the aquarium glass to select from a bevy of call girls swimming naked in the bi-level pool. The teetotaling owner grabbed unsuspecting patrons’ drinks, smelled them for booze, and tossed forbidden alcoholic beverages into the creek. No, actually the creek was poisoned with chemicals by disreputable employees and all the fish died. Wait … was that before or after President Herbert Hoover would fish in the creek, and ask for his catch to be dished up at his table? And when exactly was it all destroyed by an arson fire?

Due to plentiful coverage in the media and no shortage of interesting true-life events, the San Lorenzo Valley’s Brookdale Lodge is shrouded in a rich cloak embroidered with rumors and legends, most of which are unconfirmed.

For instance, there’s the issue of Sarah Logan—allegedly the young niece of original owner James Harvey Logan—who was said to have fallen and died in (and then haunt) the Brook Room. No one has ever been able to prove her existence, however, and the famous Brook Room, with its fancy Victorian gables and redwood trees growing through the roof, had not even been built during her uncle’s tenure. Then there’s Dr. F. K. Camp, the Adventist physician who owned the lodge after Logan (and who built the Brook Room in the 1920s), and who was indeed a rabid teetotaler. But he was also responsible for the “heyday” of the lodge, cultivating a sophisticated mix of U.S. presidents, movie stars, mobsters, and international political bigwigs, so it is highly improbable—in fact quite unbelievable—that he would have endeared himself to such lofty patrons by high-handedly snatching, sniffing, and dumping their drinks of choice.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the Brookdale Lodge entered an undisputed period of decline during which mobsters and criminals became the predominant visitors. This gave rise to the stories of secret rooms, underground passageways, mermaid escorts, bodies buried under floorboards, and the infamous meat locker. The only confirmed underground passageway was one that went under the road and had served as the hotel’s original entrance; it was assumed to be used during this period for gun running, bootlegging, and more, before being either filled in or shut (accounts on that vary).

Dr. F.K. Camp ... was responsible for the heyday of the lodge, cultivating a sophisticated mix of U.S. presidents, movie starts, mobsters, and international political big wigs.

Dr. F.K. Camp … was responsible for the heyday of the lodge, cultivating a sophisticated mix of U.S. presidents, movie starts, mobsters, and international political big wigs.

And all of the other dishy tidbits? Like most good mob tales, they make for tantalizing hearsay, but any concrete proof is now swimming with the fishes … in the brook, which incidentally—whether poisoned by confiscated drinks or by disgruntled, chemical-dumping employees—has never proven uninhabitable by aquatic life and still runs above and below the property with the usual vigor.

The legendary Brook Room was said to be haunted by the ghost of a girl who died there.

The legendary Brook Room was said to be haunted by the ghost of a girl who died there.

With the end of the mobsters reign in the late 1950s, the Brook Room mysteriously burned, and in the 1970s, the tragic drowning of a 13-year-old girl caused the closing of the famous swimming pool, depriving the Brookdale Lodge of its two most remarkable (real) claims to fame. After that, the historic property seemed to be in a sad free-fall— changing hands and names several times while struggling through closings and re-openings and a string of devastating events: suspicious fires, tax problems, wrongful death cases, fraud, civil suits, and more.

A new rumor surfaced in mid-2014 when things could not have looked more bleak for the beleaguered lodge, which was shuttered, crumbling, and abandoned behind sagging fencing: The Brookdale Lodge had changed hands once more and might be restored and reopened. Local hoteliers Pravin and Naina Patel, who own three other hotels in Santa Cruz County, did indeed buy the Brookdale Lodge and have already begun a massive restoration project. They hope to preserve and advance the historical integrity and glory of the lodge, bringing it back to its former splendor and once again providing jobs, commercial spaces, hotel rooms, apartments, and a fabulous place to see and be seen in Santa Cruz County.

And the current rumor? It will be opening soon.

Brookdale Lodge on TV

• Ghost Adventures, Season 7, Episode 8 (Travel Channel)
• America’s Haunted Houses, 1996 (Destination America Channel)
• On the Inside: The Real Ghosthunters (Discovery Channel)
• Sightings, Season 3, Episode 53/12 (Fox)

Famous Guests:

Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Tyrone
Power, Hedy Lamarr, James Dean, W.C. Fields, Humphrey Bogart, Shirley Temple, Johnny Weissmuller, President Herbert Hoover.

Article from Santa Cruz Waves Magazine, Vol. 2.5 – Dec. 2015 / Jan 2016


13 comments on “Remember When: The Brookdale Lodge

  1. This has interested me since I saw it on a Ghost Adventures, the many years I’ve been going to Santa Cruz I had never heard of it, I hope for it’s success, I’ll be there!!

  2. I can’t wait for Brookdale to re-open!! I’ve dreamed of staying there. Hope it’s affordable and open for my 50th in May. Wouldn’t that be a great way to toast being old a great meal and view! Hopefully we could afford to stay😀

  3. Left out of the ‘Famous Guests’ was Rosemary Clooney and her husband Mel Ferrer, Aunt of George Clooney (George’s father Nick was her brother), also famous in ger own right, she and her husband were friends of my Great-Aunt, .Rose Carson, who up until the mid-1960s, lived on Highway 9 (Central Avenue) in Boulder Creek. Rosemary and her husbqnd, along with their brood of children and their nanny, used to stay at Brookdale Lodge a lot in the 1940s and 1950s, while up visiting my aunt and vacationing in thr Santa Cruz Mountains.

  4. I stayed the night there several years ago when my band “Hate For State” played their stage for a “Your Music Magazine” event. I never really believed the rumors til that night. Loading my gear backstage I noticed an organ built into the wall with a 3D diorama of the Brook Room above it. The second I placed my fingers on the keys, I instantly got chills running up my arm and down my spine. Eeriest felling I have ever felt. It was awesome to see the Brook Room in person. After the show around 2am, I went for a walk out front across the creek bridge with my gf when we began to hear a baby crying in the distance that got louder the closer we got to the redwoods along side the lodge. We immediately headed back to our room…

  5. We were married in the old chapel at Brookdale in 1964.. Our reception was on the balcony overlooking the restaurant. Beautiful!

  6. When I was a small boy in the mid-50’s.i spent a night at this place I’ll never forget!
    I had traveled with my Grandfather Louis P. Scheper, from Los Angles on the train to visit relatives in San Francisco. One of these relatives had just bought the place and wanted to show it to my grandfather. It was not open, but we spent the night. I only remember two things about the place, the stream running through the dining room and spiders in my bed! I remember getting my own room which was a big deal at 10yrs old, and feeling something in my bed, getting up turning on the lights and seeing a dozen little spiders in my bed! To this day spiders really freak me out!

  7. just once I got to stand in the brook room but it was closed … it was amazing to look at it and to listen to the brook as it flowed b… would love to go back..please open soon it is a beautiful and magical place…..

  8. I worked there during summer vacations from high school. I once got a $5.00 tip for getting a customer a 25 cent pack of cigarettes.

  9. It has been completely remodeled in a French pavilion style and is again open to the public. Please be aware: THIS IS NOT THE BROOKDALE LODGE ANYMORE. Meaning, it no longer has any of the things you are looking for. The lobby is now all marble and open glass walls, not the cozy wooded walls and large fireplace. There are no canaries, chapel, no pool, no lounge/bar and no… Brook Room. All of these have been demolished. IF, however, you are into day spas and beer gardens then sure, visit this place…. or any other cookie cutter hotel in the area. Very sad.

  10. Not sure where Carrie stayed. I have lived on lodge property since March 2013e as a caretaker when it was closed, as a worker during phase 1 of the remodel, and as a maintenance man when it reopened until present. The Brookroom, pool and mermaid room have not been demolished they are however closed to the public pending phase 2 completion. They are currently off limits due to Red tags issued by county lover concern for public safety.

Leave a Comment