The Haunted History of The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco

The rich history of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco is full of stories that range from a little bit strange to just plain weird.

Some people even claim the historic hotel is haunted – but is it actually true?

In this article, we explore the history of the St. Francis Hotel, as well as show you where to go look for its ghostly residents.

The History of the St. Francis Hotel

On September 23, 1975, an FBI employee named Sarah Jane Moore fired two shots at President Gerald Ford as he was leaving the St. Francis Hotel.

It is probably the most famous event in the hotel’s history, but it is certainly not the only one.

In 1921, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, a famous silent film star, allegedly raped a well-known party girl named Virginia Rappe, causing her to bleed to death.

Al Jolson, often called “the luckiest man in show business,” also met his fate in this hotel.

In 1950, Al’s luck ran out playing gin rummy with his manager, leaving him dead in the same hotel suite where Virginia Rappe was killed.

On a less serious note, St. Francis Hotel is also where the famous actor, John Barrymore, spent the night of the earthquake in 1906.

Rumor has it, he was entertaining a young lady in his suite, when the earthquake struck the hotel.

Barrymore initially mistook the rumbling and the swaying for a purely psychological phenomenon caused by their passionate lovemaking.

Is The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco Haunted?

The 12th floor of the St. Francis Hotel is rumored to be haunted by three restless spirits.

One is a ghost of a kind, jovial woman who lived at the hotel for years and died peacefully in her sleep. Therefore, you have nothing to fear from her.

The other two, though? They might have you waking up in the middle of the night, covered in cold sweat.

Unsurprisingly, many visitors report seeing the ghost of Virginia Rappe roaming the halls of the hotel, tearing her hair out and looking for ways to exact revenge.

The spirit Al Jolson is often seen sitting at a card table, his attention completely fixated on the cards before him. We wouldn’t dare to disturb him!

Other guests have also reported waking up in the middle of the night after having horrible nightmares.

If you are after a good night’s sleep, steer clear of any rooms on the 12th floor of the hotel!

However, if you would like to investigate these hauntings, we recommend staying in Rooms 1219-1221.

That’s the suite where both Al Jolson and Virginia Rappe died, and where you are most likely to find evidence of their ghostly presence.

The Wild SF Experience

The St. Francis is not the only haunted hotel in San Francisco, far from it!

If you’d like to know more about the most haunted establishments in San Francisco, check out our Haunted San Francisco Ghost Tour.

It will take you on an unforgettable journey through the streets of downtown to show you a different, darker side of our charming city.

Ready to discover the dark side of San Francisco?

Book a tour now.