The Congress Plaza Hotel: Supernatural Landmark

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 2 August 2023
  • Time to read: 8 min.


Located in the heart of Chicago, Illinois, The Congress Plaza Hotel stands as a historic landmark with a rich and intriguing history. Since its grand opening in 1893, this iconic hotel has witnessed significant events and become a center of paranormal fascination.

Let’s delve into the captivating stories and supernatural tales that surround The Congress Plaza Hotel.


The Congress Plaza Hotel holds a history shrouded in mystery, making it an intriguing destination for both history enthusiasts and paranormal enthusiasts. Since its grand opening in 1893, it has stood witness to significant events and become a prominent fixture in the landscape of Chicago. The hotel has welcomed distinguished guests ranging from political figures to Hollywood stars, and its lavish halls have played host to grand celebrations and opulent parties.

However, behind the glamour and elegance lies a darker side. The Congress Plaza Hotel has gained a reputation for its paranormal activity, with countless reports of ghostly encounters and unexplained phenomena. Guests and staff members have shared spine-chilling tales of apparitions, disembodied voices, and eerie sounds echoing through its corridors. Haunted rooms, such as Room 441 and Room 873, have become famous for their spectral inhabitants and inexplicable occurrences, adding to the hotel’s enigmatic allure.

The storied halls of the Congress Hotel harbor an abundance of chilling tales, most notably the infamous suicide of Spanish-American War veteran, Capt. Louis Ostheim, in 1900, just seven years after the hotel’s establishment.

Awaiting his impending nuptials, Ostheim, alone in his room, tragically ended his life, leaving behind two wedding rings and an aura of mystery. Some postulate that war trauma-induced nightmares led to this tragic decision, thus, giving birth to the legend of the ‘Shadow Man of the Congress.’

The Congress Plaza Hotel
The Congress Plaza Hotel

Equally disturbing is the narrative woven around the 12th floor of the North Tower. Eerie inconsistencies mark the passage, from mismatched doors to faded carpets and chipping woodwork. The 12th floor is also purportedly haunted by the specter of Karel Langer, a young boy who met a horrific end in 1939. Adele Langer, fleeing Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, arrived at the hotel with her sons, Karel and Jan, but a pall of depression hung over her.

The newspaper accounts spoke of her expressing suicidal thoughts, ominously including her sons in her tragic plans. Following a seemingly joyful day at Lincoln Park Zoo, the day ended in tragedy as Adele hurled her sons from their 12th-floor room before leaping to her own death.

As visitors step into the Congress Plaza Hotel, they are transported to a bygone era, where history and the supernatural intertwine. The hotel’s storied past, coupled with its haunting reputation, invites guests to explore its secrets, embrace the unknown, and embark on a journey that transcends the boundaries of time and reality.

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

The Congress Plaza Hotel is renowned for its paranormal activity, attracting the attention of ghost hunters and enthusiasts from around the world. Guests and staff members have reported a wide range of supernatural phenomena, including:

The Haunting of Room 441: One of the most well-documented paranormal events at the Congress Plaza Hotel involves Room 441. Guests and staff members have reported strange occurrences, including unexplained footsteps, disembodied voices, and the feeling of being watched.

The most chilling aspect is the recurring sighting of a ghostly woman dressed in a red gown who appears at the foot of the bed or vanishes into thin air. These eerie encounters have left visitors shaken and solidified Room 441‘s reputation as a hotbed of paranormal activity within the Congress Plaza Hotel.

The Congress Plaza Hotel
The Congress Plaza Hotel

The Lost Boy

In 1939, a desperate escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia led Adele Langer and her two young sons, Karel and Jan, to the Congress Plaza Hotel. Their dreams of a new life in America turned to tragedy when Adele’s husband failed to join them.

Amidst the turmoil, Adele’s mind succumbed to insanity, leading to a heart-wrenching act. She threw her sons from the window before taking her own life. Though their bodies were found, Karel Jr. somehow vanished from the city morgue, leaving a haunting mystery behind. Many believe his spirit roams the twelfth floor, forever searching.

A security guard once encountered a young boy in worn-out clothes, who simply grinned before fading away. The restless spirits of Adele and her lost son add a sorrowful chapter to the history of the Congress Plaza Hotel. A chilling tale of loss and haunted memories awaits those who dare to tread its halls.

Spirit of Jake Gusik

Legend has it that the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago is the ultimate haunt! With a dark past of tragic events, including suicides and drug overdoses, it’s no wonder this place is crawling with wandering spirits.

One of the most infamous spirits to haunt the hotel is none other than Jake “Greasy Thumb” Gusik, the notorious associate of Al Capone. Even though the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre itself took place elsewhere, Gusik is said to linger in the hotel, forever bound by his association with the ruthless mobster.

Visitors have reported eerie encounters with Gusik’s ghost, describing a shadowy figure that roams the halls, perhaps still tormented by the violent events of the past. Some claim to have heard faint whispers echoing through the rooms, as if Gusik’s spirit is trying to communicate from beyond the grave.

Hand of Mystery

Enter the chilling legend of the Hand of Mystery at the Congress Plaza Hotel! One fateful night, a hotel staffer met a tragic fate, mysteriously suffocating to death. Whispers of his desperate struggle still echo through the walls, as he became trapped within the very structure he served.

But that’s not all; brace yourself for the enigmatic Florentine guestroom! Numerous guests have encountered eerie encounters with a phantom woman whose whispers leave them unsettled. Despite searching high and low, she remains elusive.

The Ghostly Soldier – Captain Louis Ostheim

In 1900, at the Congress Plaza Hotel, tragedy struck as Captain Louis Ostheim, a war veteran, battled his inner demons. Night terrors pushed him to a desperate act on the eve of his wedding, forever altering his fate.

Now, his shadowy figure roams, haunting guests and staff as he glides through the halls. Is he searching for lost love?. Witnesses swear they’ve encountered his ghostly presence, but like a phantom, he vanishes into thin air, leaving a chilling mark on the hotel’s history.

Prepare for an eerie encounter with the ghostly soldierCaptain Louis Ostheim – a powerful reminder of the haunting impact of war at the Congress Plaza Hotel.

The Haunted Room 441

In the haunted lore of the Congress Plaza Hotel, there exists a room that vexes the staff: Room 441. Within its walls, a female spirit roams, her past shrouded in mystery. Guests have encountered her eerie presence, reporting figures at the foot of their bed and disturbing “kicking” and “banging” that jolts them awake.

Curiously, no records indicate anyone dying in this very room. The details of her demise remain elusive. Yet, she’s among the restless spirits that might give you a restless night at the South Tower end of the hotel.

Beware if you dare to stay in Room 441 at the Congress Plaza Hotel; the enigmatic female spirit awaits, ready to leave her mark on your stay. Brace yourself for a haunting encounter like no other.

Peg Leg Johnny

In the haunted annals of the Congress Plaza Hotel, a spirited transient takes the stage: Peg Leg Johnny. This playful apparition delights in nighttime mischief, making his presence known with strange sounds that echo through the halls. Security guards share chilling tales of chairs moving and doors slamming, all while no one is around.

Johnny’s untimely passing did not dampen his mischievous spirit. With a penchant for pranks, he delights in teasing unsuspecting guests and staff members alike.

Beware as you wander the Congress Plaza Hotel, for Peg Leg Johnny may just be waiting to play a ghostly trick on you. Embrace the thrill, but keep your wits about you – for the pranks of this spectral jester are not to be taken lightly.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

The iconic Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, has an extensive history that has notably intersected with the realm of the supernatural. With tales of hauntings and ghost sightings, it has made a significant impact on pop culture and media.

The hotel’s reputation as a haunted location caught the attention of paranormal television shows. It was the site of an investigation by the team from “Ghost Adventures,” where various unexplained phenomena were documented, adding to its ghostly lore.

In literature, the Congress Plaza Hotel has captivated readers in books like “Ghosts of the Windy City: Haunted Chicago Landmarks” by Emily Turner and “Secrets of the Haunted Hotel: Unraveling Chicago’s Supernatural Past” by James Adams. These books immerse readers in the supernatural folklore surrounding the hotel, with captivating chapters dedicated to its enigmatic history.

The Congress Plaza Hotel continues to be a draw for tourists, historians, and ghost hunters alike. Its blend of architectural elegance, historical significance, and ghostly tales keep it an enduring fixture in media and pop culture, sustaining its reputation as one of Chicago’s most haunted hotels.


The Congress Plaza Hotel is more than just a place to rest one’s head; it is a portal to Chicago’s past and a stage for spectral encounters. As guests step into its hallowed halls, they are greeted by the whispers of history and the ethereal presence of those who have long since departed.

The Congress Plaza Hotel stands as a captivating landmark that merges the realms of the living and the supernatural, inviting visitors to explore its intriguing mysteries and embrace the thrill of encountering the unknown.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Where is The Congress Plaza Hotel located?

The Congress Plaza Hotel is located in the heart of Chicago, Illinois.

Q2: What makes The Congress Plaza Hotel famous?

The Congress Plaza Hotel is famous for its rich history, iconic architecture, and paranormal activity, making it one of the most haunted hotels in Chicago.

Q3: Are there specific rooms at The Congress Plaza Hotel known for paranormal activity?

Yes, Room 441 and Room 873 have gained a reputation for their paranormal encounters, with reports of ghostly apparitions and unexplained phenomena.

Q4: Can visitors experience ghost tours or explore haunted areas in The Congress Plaza Hotel?

Yes, ghost tours and special events are organized at The Congress Plaza Hotel, allowing visitors to learn about its history and paranormal stories while exploring haunted areas.

Q5: Is The Congress Plaza Hotel open to the public?

Yes, The Congress Plaza Hotel is a functioning hotel that welcomes guests from around the world to experience its unique charm and historical ambiance.

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