Hot Lake Hotel was originally built in 1864 in La Grande, Oregon during the gold rush. It became THE place for vacationers as the 205 degree sulfurous Hot Lake were thought to have healing properties. A Dr. William T. Phy bought the establishment in 1917 and turned it in to a state-of-the-art medical facility known as the "Mayo Clinic of the West". Actually, the Mayo Brothers who established the Mayo Clinic were frequent visitors. Wild Bill Hickok and his Wild West Show also visited Hot Lake regularly. Prior owners and investors include Governor Walter M. Pierce and Senator Parish L. Willis. There Dr. Phy practice along side his son Marcus until his death in 1931 from a cold or alleged radiation poisoning. Marcus committed suicide a couple of years later.
In 1934, a fire destroyed the ballroom and library. The remaining buildings went on to be a hotel. Then later an insane asylum, a nightclub, nursing home and restaurant in the 1970s. Nurses trained there during World War II. The same railroad that brought Hot Lake business was rerouted guests, the new highway bypassed it and the Depression further led to its dormancy in 1991. It fell prey to vandals and the elements, changing ownership several times. Purchased by The Manuels, it began restoration in 2003 and was scheduled to re-open late 2008.
It is rumored to be haunted by a former gardener who committed suicide, old vacationers and former patients from its sanatorium days. Some people have reported hearing music from the third floor where an old piano formerly owned by Robert E. Lee's wife use to be. Former caretakers have heard footsteps and a woman's screams from the old surgery room.
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