What Happened to The Cecil Hotel? Is the Cecil Hotel Still Open?

What Happened to The Cecil Hotel? People don’t know about the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, California, for its nearly 100-year past or its beautiful Beaux-Arts lobby. Instead, the hotel is famous for being the site of many deaths and tragedies. People often called it “America’s Hotel Death,” as Esquire reported.

Over the years, the hotel has been fixed up many times. Due to a partnership between the hotel and the Skid Row Housing Trust, it reopened as the Hotel Cecil Apartments in December 2021.

Within the Trust and with content creator Peet Montzingo, who lives across the street from the Cecil and toured the building, Insider asked what it’s like now.

About The Cecil Hotel

William Banks Hanner, a hotel owner, planned the Cecil Hotel and Loy Lester Smith built it. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it would cost over $21.2 million today, which is more than $1 million back then.

The 14-story, 700-room Beaux-Arts building on Los Angeles’s Main Street, between 6th and 7th streets, was meant to be a fancy place for middle-class tourists and professionals from around the world to stay.

What Happened to The Cecil Hotel?

But when the Great Depression hit in 1929, the hotel’s good fortune turned into sadness. It had cheap rooms for rent for both short and long stays. In this new hostel-style set-up, people stayed in single rooms but shared bathrooms with other guests. Because the rooms were cheap and the Cecil was close to Skid Row, it was known as a place where sex workers, people who were broke, and criminals lived.

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What Happened to The Cecil Hotel?

The first known suicide at the hotel happened on January 22, 1927. This was the start of a string of violence and deaths that happened there. The next day, the Los Angeles Sunday Times reported that former real estate agent Percy Ormond Cook killed himself in a hotel room by shooting himself in the head because he couldn’t get back together with his son and ex-wife. He passed away that night.

In 1931, W.K. Norton was found after taking poison pills. Army Sergeant Louis D. Borden cut his own throat in 1934. In 1938, Marine Corps member Roy Thompson jumped off the building and fell on the skylight of another building.

Deaths at the hotel have been recorded as “fell from building” many times, so they weren’t always thought to be suicides. People could have killed themselves, but it’s also possible that they did it by mistake.

The people on the list are Grace E. Margo (1938), Robert Smith (1947), Helen Gurnee (1954), Julia Frances Moore (1962), Alison Lowell (1975), and two men who were not named in 1992 and 2015.

What Happened to The Cecil Hotel?

Dorothy Jean Purcell gave birth to a boy in the bathroom in September 1944. She then threw the baby out of the building. Purcell stayed with an older person and said she didn’t know she was pregnant. She also said she thought her baby was stillborn when she gave birth. After all, the baby was still alive when his mother threw him away.

While she was being tried for murder, she was found not guilty because she was mentally ill. Purcell was taken to a hospital to get help with his mental health.

It’s not likely that one of the most famous murder cases of all time took place in the Cecil, but it may have been connected to it.

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On January 9, 1947, Elizabeth Short, a 22-year-old actress-to-be, went missing. After she died, she was called the “Black Dahlia.” After six days, her naked, mangled body was found in an empty lot near Leimert Park, about five miles from the Cecil. During the investigation, there were rumors and claims that she had either stayed at the Cecil as a guest in the days before and/or been seen at the bar of the hotel, as Insider reported. But some people didn’t believe those claims, and they still haven’t been proven. The country was shocked when she was killed, and the case has still not been solved.

Is the Cecil Hotel Still Open?

A few sites say that the Cecil Hotel is no longer taking guests. As part of an effort to move on from its problematic past, the Cecil Hotel has had many changes in ownership and name. It is now known as the Stay on Main Hotel and is currently getting a $100 million makeover so that it can be used as cheap housing. It is planned that the hotel will return in 2023 with 299 hotel rooms and 264 apartments. The Los Angeles City Council made the Cecil Hotel a historic and cultural site in 2017.


The Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, California, is known for its history of tragedies and deaths. Built in 1929, it was intended as a fancy place for middle-class tourists and professionals. However, the Great Depression led to cheap rooms for rent, making it a place for sex workers, broke people, and criminals. The hotel has been the site of numerous suicides, including the first known suicide in 1927. The hotel has undergone multiple changes in ownership and name, and is now known as the Stay on Main Hotel. It is set to return in 2023 with 299 hotel rooms and 264 apartments.

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