Saturday’s Dead Files showcases family
dynamics in famed Glen Tavern Inn

August 20, 2014
Santa Paula News

The historic Glen Tavern Inn is celebrated not only for its architecture and history, but also for its famous guests... whether dead or alive.

And the Inn, long famed for paranormal things that go bump in the night, is now the subject of yet another television program highlighting its otherworldly holdovers from the past, but this time the present - in the form of Jennett family dynamics - also takes center stage on The Dead Files.

The program, which premiered September 2011, is the Travel Channel’s top-rated show. 

The program features psychic medium Amy Allan and former NYPD Homicide Detective Steve DiSchiavi as they investigate locations that are reported to be haunted. 

Although partners Allan and DiSchiavi work separately as they investigate to provide proof of paranormal activity and it isn’t until the end of the episode that the two meet face-to-face with the occupants of the location for the reveal.

And the reveal that will be shown Saturday, August 23 at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel segment focused on the Glen Tavern Inn, titled “Double Jeopardy” is more than anyone - especially Inn owners Rosanna and Tom Jennett - ever expected.

It seems that Rosanna Jennett has a strong - dare one say supernatural? - bond with the Glen Tavern Inn, which the couple purchased in 2004, almost lost in a fire, struggled to make successful and now is where they live, enjoying the fruits of their labors... as well as a few nuts from years’ past, at least if The Dead Files is correct.

No one wants to spoil the show so details are scarce on what will be shown Saturday, but several others are interviewed - including Santa Paula Historical Society Founder/President Mary Alice Orcutt Henderson and Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean, among others for investigations by DiSchiavi that touch on murder, mayhem, suicide and the 1928 St. Francis Dam Disaster.

But it’s the Jennetts’ story that is the most compelling.

Although The Dead Files follows very strict criteria and formula, it veered way off course when it came time for the reveal, when the two investigators sit down together for the first time during the show to compare findings with each other and the occupants.

The Jennett’s daughter, Gabriella, had contacted the show about the Inn and her mother’s fondness for it, a situation that has led to some family discord.

That discord only grew stronger when the Jennetts moved from their Malibu home to the Inn, but only after Gabriella was accepted to the NYU’s Stern School of Business and moved to New York. 

“I so wanted to live here,” said Rosanna, “I couldn’t wait for Gabriella to go to New York... she was here alone when we had the fire,” in April 2006 that spread quickly on the third floor of the historic building, an incident that “traumatized her... Gabriella wanted to get far away from the drama of the Inn!”

That drama includes several guests that never allegedly have checked out: those spirits or phantoms, ghouls or poltergeists that call the Inn their home. 

“Oh people do love the ghost aspect,” said Tom of the hauntings, especially on the third floor where major stars, from Henry Houdini and Clark Gable and Mary Pickford to Carol Lombard and John Wayne and Rin Tin Tin, often stayed during area filming.

Whatever is up there it likes the early morning hours and the number three: “There is a connection between time and space from 3 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.,” when Rosanna said there is the most activity reported.

It wasn’t that the couple was not warned: “During escrow we were told the ghosts came without extra charge,” said Tom. 

From a little girl spirit that runs into a wall and disappears from sight and wailers and moaners and ghosts that turn doorknobs and mess with lights to unexplained images in mirrors, there is something different, but not threatening, about the Inn.

Ironically, noted Tom, “When we first bought the place the actual, physical tenants were the scariest,” as the stately hotel, built in 1911, had become somewhat of a flophouse, something a visitor would never imagine amid the now restored elegance of the Inn.

For  The Dead Files the Inn was shut down for three days for Allan’s walk through, pictures and other distractions already removed so she would not be distracted during her “channeling” session. 

Meanwhile, DiSchiavi used his investigative skills to uncover evidence and interview people regarding the Inn and city history.

They filmed the reveal until 3 a.m. - yes, three again - an experience that Rosanna said was “exhausting... we had no idea the reveal would take that long!”

And no doubt The Dead Files had no idea they’d get more than expected during the reveal when Rosanna was urged to “Navigate my own life,” and break the bond she has with the Inn.

“Amy said it’s time for your own time... I can see there’s life out this window,” but Rosanna said she wants it both ways.

“Glen Tavern Inn is a treasure, a gem that has to be preserved... what makes Santa Paula so beautiful is its connection to the past,” and the Inn is a strong conduit back in time.

And the Inn has let the Jennetts know its affection for its owners in a practical way: “The cost to fix the damage from the fire matched almost to the dollar the insurance coverage we had... “

“In your typical haunting shows people go into a dark room with a night vision camera and tape recorder,” such as other shows that Tom said have filmed at the Glen Tavern, whether those seeking ghosts or using the venue for fictional films.

“This is different... this is a story of  two people that had a crazy idea,” to buy a rundown, albeit historic venue, “and renovate it... ghosts and all.”

“The more we were renovating this place,” said Rosanna, “the more we were renovating ourselves. No growth happens without conflict and challenge... and this is about how we grew to have more depth in life.”

Tom noted, “Renovating a house is hard, but try renovating 25,000 square feet!” 

All the while of course, working around the ghosts. 

Whether their guests are alive or dead, haunting or haunted, the Jennetts set a record of sorts: there will be a second episode of The Dead Files at Glen Tavern Inn, the first time the program has ventured twice to the same location.

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