According to local legends, in 1932, Donald Rheem (of Rheem hot water heater fame) purchased a property on Orcas Island that sits off the coast of Washington. Despite its scenic views, his intent was not to enjoy the landscape, but to find a place to stash his unstable wife Alice.
THE GHOST STORY
As the story goes Alice Rheem was an alcoholic party girl who was known to dress only in a bright, red nightgown. Alice didn't seem to believe much in propriety especially in those years, as she was often seen riding her Harley motorcycle to Eastbound, where she would go to play cards with locals at the corner store.
Alice was supposed to have died in 1956 from complications of her alcoholism and that she haunts the mansion where she lived which is now known as the Rosario Resort.
Employees at the resort report seeing shadows and being caressed by fingers, especially in the room that used to belong to Alice. Guests have reported hearing footsteps that sound as if they're being made by high heels, and others describe seeing a lady carrying a dog that corresponds to what Alice looked like.
The Rosario Resort was originally the Moran Mansion built by Mayor Robert Moran between 1906 to 1909 on 7,000 acres he had purchased on Orcas Island. He planned the 58-room mansion as a retirement home. He had become rich as a ship builder after arriving penniless in Seattle in 1875. In 1911 he donated several thousand acres to the state so it could be used as a park.
Robert Moran died in 1943, and in 1938, Moran sold the estate to Donald Rheem for $50,000, which he used as his vacation home for the next 20 years. It was during these years that Alice was supposed to have lived there and behaved so badly, and not letting nothing like death get in her way.
Donald Rheem sold the property in 1958 to Ralph Curtain who had plans to turn it into a resort. Due to financial problems he sold it in 1960 to Gill Geiser who did go on to turn it into the Rosario Resort and Spa.
FACT VS. FICTION
Screeeeech..... Those are the brakes being applied to the above story of Alice, the red negligee-wearing, frisky ghost.
Before she became Alice Rheem, her name was Alice Goodfellow. She belonged to a prominent Piedmont family and her father William S. Goodfellow was a well known San Francisco attorney.
Her father died in 1913, and throughout those years afterwards she is listed appearing in different society events with her family in the Oakland, California area. In April 1921 she announced her engagement to Donald Rheem and in August 1922 the couple eloped despite having a brilliant wedding planned by the family. They never had children.
Alice's mother who was English died in 1933. During the 1930s and 1940s, the Rheem family was featured in several society events. She is reported attending family events for both the Goodfellow and Rheem families (in other words she was not an outcast among her rich family members).
Donald and Alice Rheem lived in Moraga a town in the San Francisco bay area. Alice owned a stable and she was shown in several horse shows with different saddle horses she owned and who had won competitions.
She died on May 11, 1956 in Oakland, California. It reflected she was still living on the family estate in Moraga.
No doubt that Donald Rheem owned the Moran estate in Orcas Island, but there is little proof to show that Alice lived there. She might have vacationed there and leading a double life, but in those newspaper pictures of her she doesn't appear to be a disreputable alcoholic that was stashed away on a forgotten island out of the reach of society and gossip columns.
So who is the Lady in Red who outraged the islanders? Was she someone else, or is she the product of a made-up ghost story?
In truth, there is a good probability that those who have experienced ghostly encounters in Rosario Resort crossed path with someone who is not Alice's ghost. No doubt there is one among a cast of a 1000 who throughout it's 100 plus years has found that the large mansion is the place to call home even in the afterlife.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer