The Moss Palisades Hotel
77 Southern Cross Road

Constructed and opened in 1920, the Moss Palisades Hotel was once a huge, opulent lodging house owned and operated by local tycoon and known eccentric Charles Moss, whose stated goal was to create a facility that could house everyone from the richest tourists to the poorest families and drifters. The resultant structure was designed according to many of the same principles used in the construction of Kirkbride asylums -- two great, batlike wings spread outward from a tall central structure that housed the administrative offices, the kitchens, the restaurant and bar and the ornate, spacious suites enjoyed by the wealthiest of the hotel's clients. Moving outward from this central point, the staggered segments of the building catered to progressively less affluent clients, until at last one arrived at the final portion of the wings. At this extreme end of the establishment, the facilities were little more than tenements -- very pretty on the outside, to be sure, but cramped and dirty within.

The hotel was something to see in its heyday: a soaring Gothic structure realized in marble, granite and brick, with accents in gold and silver leaf, spacious balconies and a huge copper-plated dome atop the central structure, with lesser domes on the sections immediately to the central wing's right and left. The main interior lobby soared a full five stories from the ground floor, pillars lining a vast atrium with couches, live piano music and hanging gardens held above the lobby from the upper levels; vast windows beneath the main cupola and around the lobby admitted an unbelievable amount of sunlight each day, warming the whole of the chamber and washing it in brilliant golden-white hues. In the depths of the Depression, throughout all the hard times that followed its construction, the Moss Palisades Hotel was a beacon of hope, a shining symbol of everything America once was and could be once again.

Of course, beneath that hope was a strong current of fear and distrust. Throughout the hotel's operation, wild rumors followed its staff and its founder, claiming that any number of guests had disappeared over the years, that the rooms in the poorer areas were deathtraps that captured and killed those who stayed therein, storing them for later consumption at grotesque, decadent feasts where human flesh was the main course. During the Depression, these rumors were largely ignored -- the Moss Palisades offered food, warmth and a roof over one's head, and the hotel wasn't picky about its clientele. After the Depression and the war, things began to change. The people of Shadowgard began to scrutinize the hotel and the disappearance of some few of its guests ever more closely, and while nothing was ever proven, the rumors eventually drove the Moss empire to ruin. By the time Charles Moss died, friendless, childless and alone, the hotel was firmly in the red and quite clearly never destined to see black again. It shut its doors for the final time in 1953, and after twelve years of neglect, the city stepped in and condemned the whole structure. To this day, the shattered remnants of Moss' corporate heirs jointly hold the deed to the property, but that has turned out to be utterly useless, as no one has yet expressed any interest in purchasing even the land alone.

If it wasn't a deathtrap before, the hotel certainly is now. Over the years, a few very brave souls have crept into the building seeking some elusive thrill, and fully half have disappeared or died within. The Shadowgard police have posted strongly worded notices all around the property, and frequently patrol the area in search of trespassers, but they can't catch everyone who wants inside, and countless locals and students are still drawn each year by the hotel's haunting appearance and intangible allure.

Today, the Moss Palisades Hotel is an opulent ruin, a monument to faded grandeur. The metallic accents have been worn away, the domes have been tarnished, the windows are broken and smeared with grime, and ivy covers virtually every inch of the walls. The hanging gardens are long since brown and dead, and most of the furniture is broken or missing outright. It's said that whispering voices echo through the halls, the pianos sometimes play themselves and the old-fashioned elevators move up and down of their own accord. The Moss Palisades is the quintessential haunted mansion, considered by many amateur ghost hunters to be the Grand Central Station of Shadowgard's paranormal landscape -- a description that scares away no small number of true believers, to be sure, even as it proves to be irresistably alluring to others.