6 Oct 2013
Sleeping With a Ghost: 8 of The South’s Most Haunted Hotels
The Menger Hotel
San Antonio, Texas
Not only is The Menger the most haunted hotel in Texas, it’s also the oldest continuously open and operating hotel west of the Mississippi River. The hotel was built by William Menger in 1858 and quickly became one of the most popular hotels in the region, hosting famous guests like Robert E. Lee, Babe Ruth, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Oscar Wilde and Theodore Roosevelt, who used the hotel bar to recruit the Rough Riders for the Spanish-American War. With over 150 years of history, it’s no wonder that many ghosts have made The Menger their home. Richard King, founder of King Ranch, died in the hotel and today guests who stay in his suite often wake up to him peering down over them. Sallie White was a chambermaid at the hotel before she was killed by her husband in 1878. Today guests of The Menger can see her roaming the halls and suites. During the month of October, the Sisters Grimm Ghost Tour invites guests to its annual Halloween dinner and ghost tour at The Menger. The cost for the dinner and tour is $61.95, and the hotel has packages that range in price from $184-$224 a night.
The Crescent Hotel & Spa
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Crescent Hotel was originally opened in 1886 as a luxury resort in the Ozark mountains, though it closed shortly after and reopened as a junior college. Just over 50 years later, Norman G. Baker bought the hotel to use as a hospital. Baker was a famous inventor and radio personality with no medical education or training, yet he claimed that he had discovered cures for illnesses and diseases like cancer. Guests of The Crescent Hotel can visit the recently reopened morgue of the hospital (pictured ), which displays original artifacts in the space where Baker performed autopsies and stored cadavers. A nurse and one of Baker’s patients, Theadora, still haunts the hotel today. A handful of other ghosts are also said to haunt the premises, including a young woman who was a student and an Irish stonemason, Michael, who fell off the roof to his death during the construction of the building. On Halloween night, The Crescent is hosting its second Annual Halloween Seance using original artifacts from the hotel. The Crescent is also celebrating the reopening of its morgue all month, and accommodations range from $199-$599 a night.
St. James Hotel
The riverfront St. James Hotel, originally called The Brantly, is located right in the middle of the Historic District of Selma, Alabama. From the hotel, guests get great views of the Alabama River and the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Civil Rights demonstrators started their march from Selma to Montgomery. The hotel was also once occupied during the Civil War by Union soldiers; they burned most of the city, but luckily St. James was spared. At one time, Jesse James and his gang stayed in the hotel for a while, taking a break from bank robbing. Nowadays, it’s said that Jesse James and his girlfriend, Lucinda, both haunt the hotel. James can be seen walking in and out of certain guest rooms wearing typical cowboy attire of the late 19th century, while Lucinda’s presence is often detected by the strong smell of lavender. Many also hear a dog barking in the courtyard or running through the halls, thought to be the companion of James. The St. James Hotel has various accommodations, and rates start at about $185 a night. If you make a reservation for October 19, you can attend the Haunted History Tour hosted by the city of Selma for only $6.
The Myrtles Plantation
St. Francisville, Louisiana
This 215-year-old mansion is said to be the home of 12 ghosts, making it one of the most haunted homes in America. The Myrtles was built by General David Bradford as a home for his family, but today it’s a bed and breakfast located outside of Baton Rouge. The most well known ghost is Chloe, a slave who baked a poisonous cake that ended up killing the wife and two daughters of her owner. Chloe was hanged as punishment and now haunts the plantation wearing her green turban. Another spooky story is that of William Winter, a man hired to manage the plantation. Winter was shot on the front porch and managed to crawl up the stairs before dying. Today his ghost is seen crawling up the stairs and stopping at the 17th step. Rumor also has it that during the Civil War, Union soldiers tried to seize the house, but three of them were killed on the premises. Each weekend in October, The Myrtles will host a Halloween Extravaganza, which features an evening tour and refreshments. Accommodations at The Myrtles Plantation include rooms in the main house and cottages on the grounds with rates from $115-$400 a night.
General John A. Quitman purchased this home in 1826, just eight years after it was built, and renovated it in the Greek Revival architectural style, typical of the Old South antebellum plantations. General Quitman, who later became the governor of Mississippi, was a secessionist and it’s believed that he was poisoned in Washington by abolitionists. He died in his Monmouth home, though he never truly left. Four years after his death, Union soldiers of the Civil War occupied and robbed the house while the family of Quitman still lived there. The plantation remained in the family, being passed down to descendants until 1924, when it was sold to someone else and eventually fell into disrepair. General Quitman started making his presence known in 1977, after the plantation was bought by new owners hoping to restore the home to its original state. It’s reported that during the restoration, the general would stomp around loudly; some guests have even woken up in the middle of the night to find him checking on them in their rooms. Reservations at Monmouth range from $195-$285 a night, and if you plan on visiting Natchez during October, you can also participate in the spooky Dash from the Dead 5K haunted race and fun run in Memorial Park.
The Grove Park Inn
Asheville, North Carolina
This year is the 100th birthday of this AAA Four-Diamond Hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Grove Park Inn is a hotspot for famous celebrities and political guests. It was once used during World War II as a meeting spot for Axis diplomats, and after the war, the U.S. Navy used it as a center for rest and rehabilitation. One of the most mysterious ghosts of all, The Pink Lady, has been haunting the hotel for over half a century. Only rumors and folklore surround the tale of The Pink Lady, but most believe she’s a young woman who fell to her death from the atrium. Room 545 stands out among the rumors, because multiple people have reported getting a chill upon entering the room. Staff and guests sometimes report seeing a pink mist or a woman wearing a pink gown in various locations in the hotel. She’s known as a friendly, yet mischievous, ghost that turns lights and air conditioning on and off, opens and closes doors, pulls the covers off of sleeping guests, tickles their feet and even holds their hand. The Grove Park Inn has over 500 rooms with rates starting at about $200 a night. There are tons of things to do in Asheville, but if you’re looking for something a little eerie, check out this Guided Cemetery Tour on October 27.
St. Augustine, Florida
During Prohibition, St. Augustine was popular for its smuggling activity, and it didn’t take long for the Mediterranean-style Casablanca to became a favorite of rumrunners from Cuba. The owner of the inn was a widow (whose name has been kept secret) and after falling in love with one of the smugglers, she became their eyes and ears. If FBI or government officials were in town, she would go up to the widows walk on the roof, still visible today, and wave a lantern back and forth to let them know if it was safe to come to the city. The widow actually made quite a fortune doing this, because she played both sides and also sold some of the black market rum to guests at her inn. She haunts the inn to this day; some say she is still waiting for her lover. Boaters who’ve gone past the bay and guests of nearby inns say they’ve seen her carrying a lantern on the roof. Staff at the Casablanca Inn have also experienced paranormal activity, like made beds becoming unmade or tablecloths being yanked off tables. The inn has 30 unique rooms to choose from, with rates going from $149-$369 a night. The Casablanca Inn encourages guests to participate in ghost tours presented by Ghost Tours of St. Augustine.
The Ellis Hotel
This 15-story hotel used to be known as The Winecoff. The name may sound familiar, because in 1946 the hotel caught fire and killed 119 people. It’s still the most deadly hotel fire in history. When The Winecoff was built in 1913, it was the tallest hotel in the country and everyone thought the brick building was invincible, so no fire escapes, alarms or sprinklers were considered during the designing and construction process. Hotel building codes were reformed almost immediately after the fire, but that didn’t stop ghosts from haunting what is today known as The Ellis Hotel. Many guests report seeing mysterious faces and figures in windows and hallways, some even smell smoke or hear loud commotions that sound like people running outside of their doors. Workmen and contractors have also noticed that their tools will be moved or missing when no one else is around. Atlanta is known as the hub of the South, so finding things to do isn’t difficult. In the month of October, the city is hosting a variety of Halloween events, including haunted houses, corn mazes and more.