The Providence Biltmore Hotel first opened in 1922 as part of the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels chain. It was built in Beaux-arts style and designed by Warren and Wetmore, the architectural firm responsible for Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Its construction was financially supported by Johan Leisse Weisskopf, a rumored Satanist.
Unusual features filled the hotel, from chicken coops on the hotel’s roof to well as hot springs in the basement. In the luxurious Bacchante Dining Room, the hotel catered to contemporary luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Douglas Fairbanks, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. During the Prohibition era, the Biltmore Hotel’s basement operated as a speakeasy, said to be frequented by members of the mob. Over time, the hotel gained some notoriety in Providence.
The Biltmore was bought by Sheraton in 1947, then sold off in 1968. After its closing in 1975 it remained vacant for four years, facing imminent demolition. But Mayor Buddy Cianci worked with local businessmen to designate the hotel as a landmark and rehabilitate it. It reopened in 1979, and since then has changed its owners several times. In 2017 it was bought by its current owners, AJ Capitol Partners, who renovated the hotel and renamed it the Graduate Providence.
Over the years, paranormal activity has been reported at the hotel, in the form of laughter from parties that can’t be found, locks turning on their own, and ghostly apparitions. These reports have given the hotel a reputation as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. In fact, elements of the Biltmore may have inspired some fictional hotels, namely the Bates Motel from Robert Bloch’s Psycho and (along with the Stanley Hotel in Colorado) the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining. While it might be a coincidence, the name of the main protagonist of The Shining, Jack Torrance, sounds a lot like Dorrance, the street on which the Biltmore is located.