As we get closer to our spookiest holiday, it's time to delve deeper into the heart of Texas, unearthing more places around the Lone Star State that are reported to be the haunts of restless spirits. As we've discovered previously, there are tons of supposedly haunted locations scattered all over Texas, and they are well worth visiting for anyone who enjoys a good ghost story or two.
5. The Baker Hotel — Mineral Wells
In 1922 the citizens of Mineral Wells raised $150,000 to have a hotel built to profit from visitors coming to their city because of the rising fame of the mineral water running through it. The 14-story structure was designed as a luxuriously opulent palace, complete with a mineral water swimming pool, which was an unusual feature at the time. It was completed in 1929, bringing the community a hotel that was immediately a success as a major spa destination, boasting advanced technological amenities such as lighting and fans that shut off and turned on automatically when guests entered or left their rooms. Mineral Wells prospered throughout the ’30s, and the Baker Hotel did as well, often attracting celebrities such as Clark Gable and Judy Garland who were visiting the city's health spas. After World War II ended, the hotel saw a decline in its good fortune, and it was closed down in 1963. It reopened in 1965, but that was a brief reprieve marked by the death of its manager, Earl Baker, in one of the suites. In 1972 The Baker was shuttered for good, and despite occasional efforts to restore and reopen the once grand structure, it has remained closed ever since. A lot of old hotels are rumored to be the eternal un-resting places of ghostly residents, and The Baker is one of them.
One ghost story attached to the hotel is that of a bloody nude woman supposedly seen roaming the halls of the seventh floor. Some folks say she's the restless spirit of a mistress of one of the hotel's owners, who killed herself by jumping from the floor she haunts. Whether or not the backstory checks out, many people have claimed to see the nightmare-inducing specter of a female ghost in the hotel. Another tale involves a young bellhop who was crushed by an elevator door and who is said to still hang around his old place of employment and death. The hotel was featured in a recent episode of Ghost Adventures in which perpetual bad-hair-day host Zak Bagans ran around yelling insults to draw the hotel's ghosts out into the open. Currently, another group of developers is planning on restoring and reopening the hotel as a luxurious place for visitors to stay, so hopefully aspiring ghost hunters will soon have a chance to spend a night or two there.
4. The Granbury Opera House — Granbury
Granbury is an old city in the north central region of the state that was founded in 1887, and has its share of interesting history and legends, including one that claims Billy the Kid wasn't killed in a shootout in New Mexico by Pat Garrett but instead escaped to Granbury, where he lived to be an old man. Whether that legend is true or not, Granbury also has its share of ghost stories, and one of the more interesting ones involves the city's beautiful old opera house, which was built in the late 1800s. The theater was painstakingly renovated and restored, and is still in operation today, so folks can enjoy one of the eight to ten productions the Granbury Theatre Company produces every year. And those with an interest in ghostly activities might get an opportunity to encounter the Opera House's otherworldly resident — many people have seen a tall figure in black clothing and black boots haunting the theater, and some have reported that he occasionally flicks on lights and moves things around. One of the prevailing theories is that the man in black (not Johnny Cash) is the apparition of John Wilkes Booth, noted 19th-century thespian and the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. The actor was known to have made his way through Granbury before meeting his end after killing the President. There are other notable hauntings in other old buildings in Granbury, but the theater's ghostly man in black is probably its most famous.
3. The Littlefield House — Austin
Built in 1893 for the Civil War veteran George Littlefield, this Victorian home located on the University of Texas campus is both beautiful and also allegedly haunted. When Littlefield's wife, Alice, died in 1935, she left her home to the university, which uses it for certain functions to this day. Stories circulate that while she was alive, Alice Littlefield may have descended into a state of mental illness or at least disliked crowds and rarely left her house. Whether that's the case or merely legend, many folks believe that Alice Littlefield continues to reside in the home she was so attached to, even after passing from the world of the living. Some individuals claim to have seen her restless spirit moving through the upstairs halls of the house, and others say she will occasionally play a tune on the piano that's there. In any case, the Littlefield House is a beautiful Victorian home, so who can blame her for wanting to stick around?
2. The Hotel Gálvez — Galveston
This historic Galveston hotel opened in 1911, and was built partially as a response by local civic leaders to lure visitors back to the island after the catastrophic 1900 hurricane. Since then, the hotel has stood as a Galveston landmark, and has been visited by American presidents, celebrities and countless visitors from more humble backgrounds who wish to stay in a luxurious hotel within a stone's throw of the ocean. Apparently, some ghosts also find the Gálvez to be a great place to hang out, as it's widely reputed to be haunted. According to many people, the fifth floor is where a lot of the ghostly action is the heaviest, with accounts of visitors hearing doors opening and closing at night, and distant screaming interrupting their sleep. Legend has it that in the mid-1950s, a young bride-to-be named Audra stayed at the hotel waiting for her mariner fiancé to return from the sea. After days of waiting, a message arrived that destroyed all hope — his ship had sunk, and all lives were lost. Audra was so heartbroken by her fiancé's death that she hung herself in the hotel. Some tellings of the legend indicate that her room was 501, others say 505, but the whole fifth floor is reported to be haunted.
1. Elder Street Artist Lofts — Jefferson Davis Hospital — Houston
For decades, the old Jefferson Davis Hospital sat abandoned in First Ward, where it was built in 1924, and served Houston's indigent population until 1938. It was then used over the ensuing decades for a variety of purposes, including doing stints as a venereal disease clinic and a home for juvenile delinquents. By 1985, the old hospital was completely vacant, and became a much-visited stop on almost any "Spooky Places In Houston" tour. All sorts of stories about the building being haunted circulated, but Jefferson Davis Hospital was a legitimately creepy place at that point, and its backstory was appropriately scary — It was built on top of an old cemetery. Yep, like something out of a horror movie, the land was originally used as a municipal cemetery from the 1840s until the late 1800s, and was the eternal resting place for Confederate soldiers, former slaves, and victims of yellow fever and cholera epidemics, to mention just a few. After the old graveyard fell into disrepair, the city decided to build a hospital on the same spot. Needless to say, by the time the building was abandoned, plenty of people thought the scary-looking old institution was haunted. Some reported seeing shadowy figures moving around the place, hearing children crying or screaming, and smelling the scent of disinfectant upon entering. There were rumors of an old on-site crematorium that had been used to dispose of bodies after an outbreak of some unnamed epidemic, and other unseemly stories to explain the place's appeal to spirits of the dead. Then, in the early 2000s, the building was again repurposed, this time into rent-controlled artist lofts. Whether any of Jefferson Davis Hospital's resident ghosts stuck around after the building's newest transition isn't entirely clear, but I have a couple of friends who've lived there, and they claim it is still haunted, "just not like it used to be." So make of that what you will.
For a state as sunny as Texas, we still have plenty of places where the shadows grow long and restless spirits are said to roam, spending eternity in the places that were significant to them. Aspiring ghost hunters are cautioned to treat these haunts with respect, and to remember that if they search for something hard enough, they just might find things that go bump in the night.