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The Jackson Hotel, forever haunted

The Jackson Hotel-now Billy's Bar and Grill
The Jackson Hotel-now Billy's Bar and Grill
Christy Urick

The first murder that occurred in Anoka, MN took place in 1885 outside of the Jackson Hotel. W.F. Mirick shot and killed his friend Peter Gross for no apparent reason. Mirick had been drinking steadily throughout that fateful day and after crossing paths with Gross, he decided, for whatever reason, to go home, retrieve his gun and shoot Gross in the back. Peter Gross was frantically brought up to the second floor of the Jackson Hotel by onlookers only to die twenty hours later in that upstairs hotel room.

For a murder to happen outside the Jackson Hotel gave quite the shock. The Jackson Hotel, built in 1877 by Swedish immigrant Charles Jackson, originally opened as the Anoka Hotel at the hub of rail and river and business boomed. However, the hotel wasn't immune to the Anoka fire of 1884 and a large part of the building was destroyed. The hotel was rebuilt that same year and re-christened the Jackson Hotel.

The Jackson Hotel was the shining star of a Anoka during the late 1800's and early 20th century. Due to its ideal location, traveling businessmen, rail workers and salesmen among others frequented The Jackson Hotel in its heyday. Unfortunately, in the 1930's, the Jackson Hotel was used for a more seedy line of work.

A secret brothel was being run out of the Jackson Hotel during the prohibition era. Girls were brought in from Minneapolis on Friday nights for the weekend to work and brought back to the Minneapolis Sunday nights. It's rumored that gangster Tommy Banks was the one running the brothel out of the Jackson Hotel.

The Jackson Hotel turned several hands over the years, even serving as apartments for a time in the 1970's. These days, however, the Jackson Hotel is better known as Billy's Bar and Grill, a casual dining restaurant residing on the main floor of the once-grand hotel, and it is rife with paranormal occurrences.

Oddly enough, it is not believed to be Peter Gross who haunts the former Jackson Hotel, but a decidedly female entity.

The Red Headed Woman, as she is commonly referred to, haunts Billy’s. Apparitions of this gorgeous, ginger-haired female have been seen by staff and patron alike. Her reflection appears to staff in the ice machine in the basement, along with appearing in an upstairs window gazing down at those who walk by below. An EVP of a woman’s voice was captured during a paranormal investigation by Anoka Paranormal Investigators-giggling at the men conducting the investigations and seemingly chiming in on their conversations.

The Red Headed Woman also has a playful side. Staff will lock up tight for the night, everything it its place, only to return to the restaurant the next morning to see chairs upturned, dishes strewn about and TV sets on. This spirit even likes to play tricks on staff while they are busy working. In the upstairs stockroom employees have been touched, hair pulled and objects arranged behind their backs while tending to stockroom business.

Who is this pretty, mischievous spirit? People believe she is the spirit of one of “Tommy’s girls” who met an unfortunate end while working for the weekend at the Jackson Hotel in the 1930’s.

A stunning redhead working girl never made the trip back to Minneapolis one Sunday evening after arriving at the Jackson Hotel Friday to work. Her body is said to have been taken to the river via underground tunnels that run under the Jackson Hotel or some say she is even buried in the basement of the establishment.

The Jackson Hotel, now Billy’s, is still a favorite among locals. The food, spirits and spirit is what keeps people coming back to Billy’s time and time again.

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