Is James March a real person? AHS: Hotel Inspiration Explained

American Horror Story: Hotel introduced the cursed residents of the Hotel Cortez, including its designer, James March (Evan Peters) – but was he a real person, or who did he draw inspiration from? Since its premiere on FX in 2011, american horror story has become one of TV’s most successful and popular shows, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. In more than ten seasons, american horror story explored different settings, creatures, fears, and legends through a combination of fictional characters, fictionalized versions of real people, and others based on infamous real-life people.


As american horror story is an anthology series, each season is treated as a standalone miniseries, although the series has evolved, different characters and events have been referenced or featured in other seasons, forming a AHS connected universe. Each season covers a different horror theme, setting, and creature or fear, and for its fifth season, AHS took audiences to a very peculiar hotel inhabited by vampires and a variety of ghosts. Title American Horror Story: Hotel, this season centered around the Hotel Cortez in California, as homicide detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) moved into room 64 after a complex homicide case put his family in danger. Once there, he quickly realized that this was no normal hotel, and he keeps a variety of dark and dangerous secrets, mostly related to the Countess (Lady Gaga), the hotel’s owner. who is also a vampire, but not in the traditional style of these creatures.

Related: American Horror Story: How Season 10’s Vampires Compare To Hotel Villains

Hotel also featured James Patrick March, the designer of the Hotel Cortez and husband of the Countess, who had a very dark past that further plagued the hotel. It is through him that Hotel introduced some of the most infamous serial killers, as he used to dine with them the night before Halloween, but a question arose: is James March also based on a real serial killer, or is it completely fictional?

American Horror Story: Hotel – The Real James March Explained

James March was a wealthy oil businessman and serial killer, who used his money to build the Hotel Cortez. March had a very specific vision for the hotel by constructing various secret rooms and hidden hallways in an effort to use the hotel to hide all evidence of his many murders. March is the one who started the Ten Commandments murders, which were later taken over by John Lowe. Within the universe of American Horror Story: HotelMarch is one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, and the ghosts of many of his victims are trapped in the hotel – but so is he, as he killed himself in his office before the police can stop him, and he has dinner once a month with the Countess.

James March was reportedly based on serial killer and real-life con man HH Holmes, who bought an empty lot and began building a two-story mixed-use building, complete with apartments and commercial space. In 1892 he added a third floor and told investors he would use it as a hotel, but that part was never completed. The press referred to the building as “Murder Castle” as there were rumors that Holmes lured strangers into the hotel to kill them, but there is no evidence of this, and they also claimed that the building had secret torture chambers, trapdoors, gas chambers and a crematorium in the basement, but that was not true. What is true, however, is that Holmes killed various people, including his mistresses and his business partner, Benjamin Pitezel, the latter being the only murder for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. The exact number of HH Holmes’ victims is unknown as he confessed to 27 murders, but some of these people were still alive and he constantly gave conflicting accounts of his life. All of those HH Holmes rumors and stories came to life in American Horror Story: Hotel by James March, but unlike the Hotel Cortez, Holmes Castle is no longer standing, as it was destroyed by fire shortly after Holmes’ arrest.

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