Tenants hear ‘friendly’ noises at night at former hospital | RecordCourier.com

Tenants hear ‘friendly’ noises at night at former hospital

by Linda Hiller

People were born there and people died there – it was a hospital, after all. Perhaps these comings and goings account for the stories of strange happenings in what is now the Logan Professional Building, formerly the Carson Valley Hospital.

“We have definitely heard things here, but not really that often,” said current building owner Noel Manoukian. His law office is in the hospital’s old nursery.

“One day, about seven years ago, I was working late downstairs and the sheriff’s deputy stopped by around midnight because he noticed the front door was open,” Manoukian said. “I thanked him and went back to work. I had checked all the doors upstairs and they were definitely locked. Around 1 a.m., I heard a door slam upstairs. I called my wife Louise right then, told her I was coming home and left.”

Terri Rothi Miller, Manoukian’s associate who has her office down the hall in the old operating room, said she too has had an unexplained auditory experience working late.

“I have heard the sound of someone coughing when I’ve been here late at night,” she said. “It was a friendly cough, though, almost as if it was telling me, ‘You’re not alone – I’m here.'”

“We want our clients to know this has only happened at night,” Manoukian said with a smile.

The two-story Gardnerville hospital was built in 1914 by Dr. E.H. Hawkins as a “Sanitorium.” It was built by contractor, Nels Peter Jennson from Hawkins’ sketches. The final building housed an operating room, a scrub room, a baby nursery, a kitchen and several hospital rooms both upstairs and down. The building served the Valley as a hospital for only 10 years.

Hawkins, a tall man with a curled mustache, was a well-respected doctor and had been practicing medicine in the Valley since 1901. The story goes that this good-looking doctor fell in love with a woman during the time he owned the hospital and was jilted by her – something he never recovered from. Hawkins eventually lost the building and moved to Battle Mountain, where he later died.

Dr. C.E. Thompson bought the hospital in 1917 and ran it until 1920, then sold it to Dr. William Howell. Following that, it changed hands until finally closing as a hospital in 1924.

During the hospital’s heydey, many Carson Valley babies came into the world and spent their first days in the upstairs nursery with the magnificent Sierra view.

Today, on a bulletin board downstairs, visitors to the old hospital can see pictures of some of the babies who were born there – familiar Valley surnames such as Hickey, Settelmeyer, Dempster, Borda, Bartels, Kenney, Baker, Neilson, Graunke, Kettenberg, Brown, Heidtman, Lundergreen, Werner, Cardinal, Ellis, Neddenriep, Johnson, Atchison, Park, Staricha, Wehrmann, Bergevin, Godecke, Roberts, Gansberg and Stewart – all born between 1917 to 1923.

This solid brick building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has itself been reborn a few times since 1914.

After closing as a hospital in 1924, it was idle for some time as owners Charles and Mamie Brown planned its next reincarnation – an apartment house with possible dining room service.

From 1930 to 1946, it was run as a boarding house. The first tenants were the single female school teachers who taught at the Douglas County High School across the street.

One former tenant, who later visited the building and related this story to paralegal Lori Salvador, said she had lived in an upstairs room while her husband was away on military duty.

“She said they had been stationed at Pickel Meadow, and trying to have a baby when her husband was called away to duty,” Salvador said. “At the boarding house, they weren’t allowed to have pets, but she was lonely without her husband and wanted a dog. Everyone knew they had desperately wanted a baby, so she got a poodle and stuffed it under her shirt whenever she went out. Everyone thought she was pregnant.”

From 1946 to 1958, the house was a private residence. After that it was empty for 20 years.

In 1978, Carson Valley accountant Glenn Logan and his wife E-Ann bought the deteriorated building at auction.

“I think it was meant to be that we have that building,” said E-Ann, recalling the purchase 20 years ago. “We thought it was a beautiful building and were worried someone would tear it down – that’s why we originally wanted it. We didn’t have much money, so the night before the auction, Glenn said, ‘I hope it snows tonight so the California buyers can’t get across the pass tomorrow.’ The next morning, it had snowed.”

Logan said that after she and Glen bought the dilapidated building, it became an all-consuming project that took months to complete to its final Victorian elegance.

“Looking back, I don’t know how we did it,” she said. “The neat thing was that while we were working on it, people would come in and hug us and thank us for saving it. There was one woman who was in town for a divorce and had to spend the six weeks waiting for it – she came by and worked with us every day because she just wanted to be a part of it.”

After refurbishing the building, the Logans renamed it the Logan Professional Building. E-Ann said Glenn did have an experience or two with doors slamming at night while he worked late.

“He said he knew the doors upstairs were locked, but they would slam shut occasionally, which always brought him home immediately,” she said.

A “spinster” nurse, the popular May Kenney, who loved the babies and children at the hospital, is often talked about as the “ghost” who inhabits the old hospital, located at 1466 Highway 395.

When Glenn Logan retired, the building was sold to the Manoukians in 1985.

“We knew the Manoukians would love it like we did,” E-Ann said. “So Glenn approached Noel and told him, ‘Have I got a building for you.'”

The Manoukians, who share the building with other professionals including Allstate Insurance, Owens Engineering and Douglas Counseling, said occupying the historical space rather than a newer office building has its rewards.

“I love this building,” Louise said. “One time, Lori and I were in the kitchen and had been hearing about ghosts, so we asked for a sign. The chandelier began to sway, although the other fixture in the room didn’t move at all.

“It is a happy place, though we’ve had people come in here and say, ‘You’ve got nice spirits here.'”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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