Stratford Inn Investigation

History: Carlos Latin originally owned the property where the hotel is located in 1843, who was the founder of Sycamore. In 1855, a stagecoach owner, Timothy Wells, purchased the property to build a shelter for a stagecoach stop.

In 1882, Reuben Ellwood purchased the property and a built a $28,000 mansion. Ellwood was the first mayor of the city and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It is believed that the first floor was used as high congressional house. There is a built-in wall safe that still exists in the building today.

Mr. Ellwood died at the age of 64 in 1885. Mrs. Ellwood remained in the mansion until her death, and a local merchant, Henry C. Whittemore purchased the mansion from the estate in 1896.

In 1925, Henry B. Fargo of Geneva was negotiating to buy the property from Mary Whittemore, spinster daughter of Henry Whittemore. Mary placed a restriction on the sale of the property to Mr. Fargo. The restriction allowed only part of the structure to be removed, and Mary would be allowed to remain in the portion of the home in her own private suite.

In 1926, the Fargo Hotel was constructed in an "L" shape around the mansion. It consisted of 60 rooms, some with plumbing, but mainly baths and showers were centrally located in the halls. The hotel operated under several different owners until 1972.

In 1972, the building was purchased by Tom and Debra Carls who operated the Carls Fargo Coach Rooms. They ceased renting the two upper floors, as utility costs became prohibitive. The restaurant and lounge however remained in operation.

In late 1982, funds were raised to form a new corporation, whose main function was to remodel the two upper floors of the hotel into a modern hotel facility. Construction began in February of 1983. All rooms were enlarged to the present number of 39 rooms. Virtually everything was replaced or remodeled. The hotel now consists of 10 double queen rooms, 25 single queen rooms, two-corner king rooms and two master suites.

The two Corner Suited are located in the corner of each floor and are spacious rooms with king size beds, Jacuzzi baths, amenities, easy chair, and desk area.

The Master Suites are housed in what was the original mansion of Reuben Ellwood. The antique woodwork in the hallway hints at the history of the structure. The original woodwork was removed, restored and used in the remodeling of the Suites.

The Ellwood Suite (Room 213) consists of a large dining room and living area. The dining area has an oval oak table, which seats six people comfortably. The new, but period furniture tastefully compliments the woodwork and décor of the suites. A wet-bar and refrigerator allow the suite to be intimate yet entertaining. The elegant master bedroom, decorated with antique oak furniture, and a four posted bed carry through the "mansion feeling". The highlight of the master bedroom is the 54" x 74" Jacuzzi for your relaxation. There is television in both the living room and bedroom area, complete with HBO, ESPN, and other satellite channels.

The Whittemore Suite (Room 211) is frequently referred to as our bridal suite. Upon entering the suite, with its beige carpeting and navy and beige accents, you are in the living room area. The television and refrigerator are nestled in the midst of the living room. There is also a wet bar for entertaining, or for a private toast to the newlyweds.

The original spindles from the Ellwood mansion reveal an open staircase leading to the lofted master bedroom. The lofted bedroom was once the attic of the historic mansion. A queen size 4 posted bed is complimented by traditional Georgian mahogany furniture, and an elaborate Jacuzzi bath.

The lobby area, as well the as the entire restaurant and lounge were also redecorated in 1983. Over two miles of hand carving was constructed in the woodwork. The hunter green carpeting in the lounge and lobby was imported from England. The three brass chandeliers were custom made for the lobby. A covered skylight was reopened in the rear of the lobby and all restrooms are completely new. A new elevator was installed, which is one of four in the city of Sycamore.

The Stratford Inn, in its present form, re-opened for business on September 15, 1983 after the one million dollar renovation was completed. It is an asset to the community and we are all proud to be a part of the establishment.  

Mary Whittemore, the youngest daughter of Captain Henry C. Whittemore, died in her room at the Fargo Hotel on June 4, 1934. The death came at 12:30 am on a Saturday. The room she died in is now Room 211.  

A mysterious death occurred Friday evening, October 10, 1928, at about 7pm at the Fargo Hotel when John Mallonee, colored porter at the hotel, was found lying at the bottom of the back stairs with a broken neck. He was found by desk clerk Richard Coley who notified Manager Paul Gawzner and a doctor was called. He was pronounced dead.

The accident occurred just as the delegates to the Coyner Agency of the Mutual Life Insurance Company convention were to be served. Mallonee was to have assisted in attending the guests at the banquet.  

At the inquest conducted by Coroner Dr. R. P. Culver Saturday afternoon the jury rendered a verdict of accidental death caused by falling down a flight of stairs. The man had not been seen for ten minutes before the accident, nor was he found until fifteen minutes after his death. The steps are not extraordinarily steep and the porter was carrying nothing that might have caused him to lose his balance and fall. At the inquest, Mrs. Ed. Mingus of DeKalb, sister of the porter, stated that she had never known her brother to drink and Manager Paul Gawzner, who had been acquainted with the porter for three weeks as an employer, was sure the man had not been drinking. Mallonee was in good health and had never been known to be affected with fainting spells which might have caused his fall. There was no evidence at the inquest that might cause the verdict to be of a different nature, although a number of colored folks seemed to be dissatisfied with the verdict there was no evidence on which to base a contradictory verdict.

John Mallonee was a resident of DeKalb, where he had made his home with his sister since last May. Hew was previously employed at Rochelle. He also leaves surviving his aged father residing in North Carolina and a brother and three sisters, also in North Carolina.

The funeral was held at the home of his sister in DeKalb at 1:30 o’clock this Tuesday afternoon.  

A 32-year-old DeKalb man died Tuesday after he crashed his motorcycle into a brick wall of the Carls Fargo restaurant’s banquet room in downtown Sycamore, on June 14, 2006. 

Police said that around 9am, Robert D. Cheney crashed his “ninja-style” motorcycle into the northeast wall in the alley behind the restaurant in the 300 block of West State Street.

DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller pronounced Cheney dead at the scene around 9:20am.

Sycamore Police Lt. Darrell Johnson said it appears Cheney started driving at Maple Street and proceeded down the alley, also called Bill Johnson Boulevard, behind the stores on West State Street, gathered speed and struck the cinder block wall.

“There’s no evidence he tried to stop or avoid striking the building,” Johnson said. It’s not clear yet exactly how fast Cheney was going.

The official cause of death is massive head injury, Miller said, Cheney was not wearing a helmet, Johnson said.

Carls Fargo owner Tom Carls said Tuesday afternoon he did not know Cheney. No one was in the banquet room at the time of the crash, and no other vehicles or people were involved.

Carls said police told him Cheney’s injuries left him unrecognizable.

A construction crew late Tuesday repaired the wall, which had a hole that was more than 4 feet tall and about 5 feet wide left after the crash. A plastic sheet covered the interior wall. Carls said there are three weddings planned for this weekend, and repairs should be complete by then.

An inquest to determine the official cause of death is pending.

Johnson said police continue to investigate the crash.


Located at 355 W. Main St., Sycamore, IL. 60178, 815-895-6789



The Ghost Research Society investigated The Stratford Inn on August 14, 2010. Investigators present for the investigation included Dale Kaczmarek, Nicole Tito and trainee Lauren Kasmar. They were also joined by fellow investigator Russ Noratel.

 Hauntings: The third floor and rooms 312 has been the scene of female screams while room 211 where Mary Whittemore died has had experiences. The banquet room and back stairs just on the other side of the door in the Fireside Room have also been plagued with activity.




Equipment setup:

In Room 312 a Tri-Field Natural EM Meter was placed on the floor and monitored. An EM Pump and The Talker were employed and Nicole and Russ conducted and EVP session. I filmed with an IR and full spectrum camera and snapped pictures with a digital IR camera.  In the Banquet Room, an EM Pump and The Talker were placed on a chair near the wall where the suicide took place. Also employed were a K-II meter and a static IR camera which was placed on a nearby table and was used to film the crash scene.  I also used the full spectrum camera and snapped pictures with a digital IR camera. The pyrometer was used to gauge some cold spots felt in the room.

In Room 211 we joined another group that was conducting an EVP session. I used an EM Pump and The Talker on the stairway along with a handheld IR and full spectrum camera. A Tri-Field Natural EM Meter was also used as well as a digital IR camera. Upstairs a laser grid system was being used.  

In the Fireside Room we conducted another EVP session and used an EM Pump, The Talker, K-II and Tri-Field Natural EM Meter. I monitored the session with an IR and full spectrum camera and shot some pictures with a digital IR camera.




Personal Experiences:

Nothing out of the ordinary was experienced in Room 312 because of the loud television in the room across the hallway, a loud party happening just down the block and an obnoxious loud yawning coming from an adjacent room.  

In the banquet room, moving cold spots were experienced by all and I got visible “goose bumps” and had the hair come up on my arms on the other side of the long table at the front of the room. The Talker inexplicably began malfunctioning and produced a noise that sounded much like the revving of a motorcycle’s engine going through the gears. It only stopped after I turned off the unit for awhile and replaced it on the chair. Nicole believed she saw some movement to the left of the room.  

In Room 211 there was much activity on the Ghost Radar application and other devices and apparently some intelligent communication. Researchers upstairs believed they saw something interrupting the laser beams from time to time.  

In the Fireside Room, we all audibly heard knocks and taps on the walls in apparent response to some questions. Nicole believed she felt something or someone behind her at one point. After we turned off the digital recorders and camcorders, Lauren and I both clearly heard a dragging sound come from the steps where the accidental death of Mallonee happened. It appeared to be quite close, just on the other side of the door, and very short-lived. We immediately turned our units back on but no other such experiences happened.









Video/audio Evidence:

Banquet Room

Talksound.MPG Nicole thought she saw some shadowy movement in the back of the banquet room and about that time The Talker began making some strange noise that sounded like a motorcycle going through it’s gears. The device was located exactly where Robert Cheney had committed suicide. It is only supposed to pick up and use phonetics.  

Yeah.MPG Russ Noratel commented, “Got to be an equipment malfunction.” After that I turned the box on and the first word that came out was, “Yeah.”  

Whisper.MPG a low whisper was recorded by the long table in the banquet room.  

Room 211  George and his group was also in the room conducting an EVP session and we joined in. He asks, “Mary is Jeff with you now?” Just at that moment The Talker begins to make that weird noise again. It has never before or since made that sound.  

Fireside Room

Two knocks.MPG Dale asks, "Can you knock on the walls or the floor?" Near the end of the clip you hear two quick knocks.

Mumber.MPG Nicole asks, “Mahoney did someone push you down the stairs?” <A strange low mumble was heard> “Or did you fall?”

3raps.MP3; Nicole asks, “Rap on the table if you are here.” About 18 seconds later 3 distinct and audible raps were heard clearly in the room.

123.MPG Nicole says, “One, two, three.” As she knocks on the table. Eleven seconds later a noise in clearly heard coming from the stairs in the basement where the death had occurred in the past.

Nicole Tito: Stratford Inn Report August 15th, 2010 from Nicole Tito

Team Partner: Dale Kaczmarek

Observer: Lauren Kasmar

Equipment Used: Sony video camcorder, Sony audio recorder, K-II meter, Talker, Ovilus, EM Pump

Impressions/Personal Experiences:

 Throughout the night, the most activity seemed to occur in the banquet room during the EVP session.  I decided to sit in the exact spot that the individual committed suicide several years ago by driving his motorcycle into the brick wall.  After several minutes, Lauren and I began to see shadows across the room dart between the chairs and tables.  This occurred several times.  Then, the Talker started making a weird buzzing noise that almost sounded like a motorcycle revving its engine.  Dale was unable to explain this and did not believe that the battery was low causing a malfunction.  Towards the end of the session, Lauren and I began to feel cold spots around us that would migrate back and forth. 

Later on in the night, Dale, Lauren, and I went to the Fireside Lounge and conducted another EVP session.  At this time, we all heard noises in the basement through the locked door with stairs leading to the lower level.  It was around 3 AM so it was doubtful that staff would still be around.  There were unexplained knocks and voices.   

EVPs/Audio Evidence:   

That Was Mine---You will hear me ask, "Are you next to us?"  Followed by Dale off in the distance and then Lauren and I talking followed by a low male's voice that says, "That was mine."  I do not think it was Dale as he was further away.  This is when we were experiencing a cold spot in the banquet room.  

Voice--To me it sounds like a robotic male's voice saying, "Get out of the kitchen," then you will hear Dale in the far background followed by me saying, "Come out and play."  Again, this was captured during the same EVP session in the banquet room. 

Enhanced this is the enhanced version of "get out of the kitchen."

Video: No evidence.   

Still photos: No evidence.  

Overall opinion:

The hotel was a beautiful and comfortable place to spend some time. Much more research and investigation will be needed under more controlled conditions to determine if the place is actually haunted or not. The hotel was completely filled to capacity due to the conference and with the extra people, extraneous noise from outside and hotel employees, it was impossible to conduct a thorough and quiet investigation without some contamination. 

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