SAN ANGELO, Texas (ConchoValleyHomepage) — Of all the haunted locations in San Angelo, none seem to attract as much tragedy as the site where three hotels fell to fire and smoke.
The six-story building that stands on the corner of Chadbourne Street and Concho looms over a bustling downtown that is rich in history, but this building carries a much darker history than its neighbors. Today it stands desolate with broken and boarded-up windows, only a shell of what it once was and the last remnants of a series of tragedies that haunt the building to this day.
This site’s history is over 100 years old and the structures that have stood there have been known by many names including the Naylor Hotel, the Landon, the Nimitz and the Town House. While it is six stories tall today, it was first built as a two-story hotel under the ownership of the son of Carl Nimitz.
This hotel, the Nimitz, was short-lived after collapsing in a fire that was allegedly started by a chef attempting to cover up the murder of his assistant in 1893. This is the first of many tragedies to come.
The building sat in ruin until it was purchased by James and his wife Rosa Landon. Together they rebuilt the two-story hotel with native sandstone, adorning the interior with timely luxuries. The Hotel Landon stood for seven years becoming the place to be for the local elite to enjoy an elegant meal or to have a luxurious place to stay, that is until the second tragedy struck.
At 2 a.m. on August 8, 1902, smoke once again began creeping into the air and was first noticed by a night clerk waiting on the arrival of the Santa Fe train. He rushed inside and saw what had been wisps of smoke turn into plumes coming from a fire located in the kitchen. He then ran to wake up the Landons and together they began helping people to safety.
The fire was spreading rapidly through the building and the clerk and James Landon’s escape was cut off as the building collapsed around one of only two exits. Spinning on their heels they dashed to the rear exit stairs bursting through the smoke into fresh air. It wasn’t until then that they realized Rosa Landon was nowhere in sight.
Rosa Landon was still in the smoldering building attempting to save as many of her patrons as she could. Onlookers would later report that as they watched the building burn in horror they saw seven people appear on a balcony. The group included Rosa Landon, two small boys and their mother, a businessman and a woman clutching her infant grandson.
Onlookers below would plead for the group to jump into makeshift safety nets below the balcony but it was too late. The group was plunged into the raging fire as the wall the balcony was attached to collapsed inwards.
Despite this tragedy, the hotel was rebuilt with three stories years later. Guests of the hotel began reporting hearing wails of fright and pain. Maids reported seeing a figure weeping and cradling a baby causing most of them to quit on the spot. Shockingly the building burned down for a third time in 1925.
In the 1930’s the six-story building we see today was built and presented as the Naylor Hotel undergoing several name changes and renovations but ultimately shutting down in 1983, ironically, because it did not meet city fire codes.
Residents of San Angelo have whispered stories to one another of seeing the ghostly figure of a woman clutching a baby, of two children playing in a window only to appear floors above in seconds or hearing cries of pain when darkness fell. What appears to be scorch marks still adorn the crest of the building, perhaps the last vestiges of warning to any who may enter.
CC Suzy Roberts, Caity Roberts and Carson Kent’s production of Ghost Talks with Be Theater
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