Sleeping With A Ghost Again: 8 More of the South's Most Haunted Hotels
Last year’s haunted hotels list was so popular, we decided to do it again. Here are eight more hotels offering luxury, comfort and chilling encounters with a few special guests.
The Tutwiler Hotel
Birmingham’s first luxury hotel is celebrating its 100th year in 2014. For decades, the historic hotel served as the center of the city’s political, social and business circles. Since 1914, The Tutwiler has hosted hundreds of dignitaries, politicians and celebrities, such as President Warren G. Harding and Charles Lindbergh. After falling on hard times in the 1970s, The Tutwiler closed its doors. Now relocated a few blocks over and reopened after extensive renovations, this Hampton property is once again the epitome of Southern elegance.
The hotel’s namesake, Major E.B. Tutwiler, underwrote the the mortgage and lived in the luxury apartments that were eventually transformed into hotel rooms in 1985. He also decided to stick around for the past century. His ghost has the habit of knocking on doors late at night, but when drowsy hotel guests open up no one is there. Major Tutwiler has been blamed for these late-night visits and mischief in the restaurant downstairs. The story goes that a few years ago a bartender kept getting in trouble for leaving the lights and stoves on after closing. The bartender knew he’s turned off every light, but when he went to leave, the lights kept coming back on. This happened several nights in a row, until the manager came in one morning to find someone had prepared a large meal and taken out a bottle of wine. The staff began addressing the ghost of Major Tutwiler every night at closing with the words: “Good night Major! Please turn the lights and stove off, and don’t make a mess!” Apparently the Major appreciated the effort, because there haven’t been any problems in the restaurant since. Rates start at $103 a night.
Dauphine Orleans Hotel
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans’s French Quarter has a reputation of being one of the most haunted districts in America, so visiting the historic boutique hotel Dauphine Orleans is sure to please ghost hunters and history buffs alike. The site of the hotel, dating back to 1775, has a history as long and rich as the French Quarter. John James Audubon painted his famous “Birds of America” series in the Audubon Room, which now serves as the hotel’s breakfast room. Today, May Baily’s Place serves as the Dauphine Orleans hotel bar, but from 1897-1917 it operated as a bordello in the former red light district of Storyville. Pictures of the former madams of Storyville line the walls, and a red light still shines in the hotel’s courtyard to remind patrons of the Quarter’s sordid history.
Guests and employees have reported many ghost sightings in the hotel, ranging from Civil War soldiers to “ladies of the evening.” Several ghosts have been spotted wandering across the courtyard of the former bordello, and one of the apparitions is believed to be the spirit of a Creole soldier in uniform. Perhaps he was a regular at May Baily’s. For those wanting more, the hotel offers a New Orleans Spirits Package with two nights accommodations, a ghost and spirits walking tour and drink at May Baily’s.
Battery Carriage House Inn
Charleston, South Carolina
The history of the Battery Carriage House Inn dates back to 1843. The Battery was an active artillery installation during the Siege of Charleston, which at the time was the longest bombardment of a civilian population in the history of warfare. All the houses in the area, including the Battery Carriage House, were damaged and abandoned during the four-year bombardment. The Inn, home to several prominent businessmen in the 19th century, was first converted into a “motor court” in the 1920s. By the 1940s, Charleston had become a Navy town and the nearby Market Street that now houses tourist shops was occupied by strippers and prostitutes. The hotel began to serve less illustrious guests and found it more profitable to charge by the hour. The area grew more respectable by the 1960s and the Carriage House became a boarding house for college students. In the 1980s, it returned to a historic district hotel and has remained a Charleston favorite since.
With the inn’s long and complex history, it’s not surprising that The Battery Carriage House holds the title of “Charleston’s most haunted inn.” Two of its most famous ghosts lurk in rooms 8 and 10. Legend goes that the “Headless Torso,” thought to be from the Civil War era, resides in Room 8, and guests have reported a hovering presence and the sensation of being watched. Room 10 holds a far less menacing spirit. “The Gentleman” is thought to be the son of one of the inn owners from the early 1900s. For reasons unknown, the son, a successful college student, jumped from the roof of the house to his death. Guests have reported seeing unexplained shadows and apparitions of a young man who climbs into bed with female guests.
Battery Carriage House Inn offers a Ghost Adventure Package, which includes two nights stay in any room (including rooms 8 & 10) and several paranormal tours and experiences around Charleston.
A member of Historic Hotels of America, The Driskill is among the world’s most luxurious. The hotel is located in downtown Austin and was built in 1886 by cattle baron Col. Jesse Driskill at a cost of $400,000. It was heralded by the Daily Statesman as “one of the finest hotels in the whole country.” Two weeks after the grand opening, The Driskill hosted its first inaugural ball for Texas Gov. Sul Ross, and Lyndon B. Johnson and his future wife, Lady Bird, met in the Driskill dining room for their first date and later would celebrate his political victories at the hotel. Other prominent guests have less happy memories at the hotel.
The Driskill’s first paranormal occurrence was recorded before the hotel’s first anniversary. In 1887, the daughter of a Texas Senator was playing with her ball on the grand staircase and tumbled down to her death. A week after the tragedy, she was seen playing with her ball near the stairs. In recent times, guests and staff have reported the sound of a ball bouncing and the faint sound of a child’s laughter. Perhaps the most chilling story focuses on Room 525. The legend tells of two brides on their honeymoons who commited suicide in the bathroom 20 years apart. For decades, the room was off limits for guests and the bathroom boarded up, but it was unsealed and renovated in 1998. Since then, this room has been at the center of strange occurrences and a third woman committed suicide in the hotel, but this time on the fourth floor. Guests report seeing a woman out of the corner of their eye, and staff have heard whispers and sobbing on the fourth floor. Rates average about $400 a night.
Austin Ghost Tours lead walking tours through the Driskill Hotel lobby on weekends. The 90-minute tours have been featured on A&E, Travel Channel, History Channel and PBS. Tours are $20, and reservations are required.
Anchuca Mansion and Inn
Located in Vicksburg’s historic district, Anchuca Inn was built by politician J.W. Mauldin in 1830. The Greek Revival Antebellum home is the first columned home in Vicksburg — and one of the finest inns. The house survived the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863 and went on to serve the wounded and displaced victims of the war. Joseph Davis, brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, lived in the house until his death in 1870. The year before he visited his brother and stood on the balcony of Anchuca to address the people of Vicksburg for the last time.
A historic mansion in a historic town is likely to hold a few ghosts, and Anchuca doesn’t disappoint. The spirits of soldiers who died at the former war hospital have been blamed for unexplained activity, and the ghost of a former inhabitant also remains in the house. Daughter of former owner Richard Archer, Archie is said to have fallen in love with the overseer’s son, but her father forbade the match. Archie never forgave him, and no one seems to know how her story ended. She first appeared in 1966 to the teenaged daughter of owners the Lavendars. Perhaps the presence of another young girl compelled Archie to appear. Whatever the cause, she’s been seen standing by the mantle of the fireplace in the dining room, and guests have also seen strange lights and a woman floating above the interior balcony. Rates start at $125 a night.
Photo Credit: Anchuca’s Facebook page
Built in 1851, the Marshall House is the oldest hotel in Savannah and was recently named “Best Boutique Hotel” in the city. There’s one more accolade to mention though; it’s also one of the most haunted hotels. The Marshall House is named after its founder Mary Marshall, daughter of a French cabinet maker. A portrait of her that once belonged to Jim Williams, the real-life Savannah resident portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the film “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” hangs over the front desk in the lobby (pictured). In 1864, the hotel was occupied by Union troops led by General Sherman and used as a Union hospital for wounded soldiers until the end of the Civil War.
The foyer of the Marshall House is a hotbed for paranormal activity, with objects known to move about on their own. Unusual events also occur throughout the hotel without any explanation, such as water faucets turning on and off, lights flickering and electronic devices powering on and off by themselves. On the fourth floor, loud crashes have been heard and doorknobs turn as if someone were trying to open them. No one knows the identity of the ghosts, but perhaps fatally wounded soldiers from the Civil War era or Jim Williams looking for his painting are the cause. Rates start at $129 a night.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Built in 1924, the Carolina Inn was the brainchild of University of North Carolina alumnus John Sprunt Hill. On a late night walk through campus, he saw a striking piece of property that gave him a vision of a cheerful inn for both visitors and alumni. Hill purchased the property, which is known to be the site of the 18th century small log “Chapel on the Hill” from which the town took its name. Hill’s inn was designed by award-winning architect Arthur C. Nash. After owning the Carolina Inn for a decade, Hill donated the hotel to the university in 1935 with the condition that all profits go to the University library. Over the years, the hotel has undergone a steady schedule of renovation, but through it all the Carolina Inn has remained a cheerful place for visitors and alumni.
It seems fitting that this friendly Inn is said to be home to amiable spirit Dr. William Jacocks. Dr. Jacocks lived at the inn from 1948 until his death in 1965. He was known for his warm disposition and good sense of humor, and it appears those positive traits have remained after death. A well-dressed man believed to be the doctor has been spotted in the hallways after rattling the doorknobs of guest rooms, and Dr. Jacocks also likes to prank those who visit Room 256, the location of his former dwellings. Rates start at $112 a night.
Hall House Hall
A small town in the Appalachian Mountains, Dahlonega was formed in the late 1800s. It was home to the Cherokee Nation, America’s first gold rush and the Civil War. Dahlonega is also said to be an exceptionally haunted town, but that only seems to increase its charm. Visitors can spend the day panning for gold, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, touring award-winning wineries or strolling though history with the town’s many ghosts. Built in 1881, Hall House is the second-oldest building downtown and a stop on the local ghost tour. Hall House originally opened as a hotel, but it has been a private home, boarding house and now shares space with Bourbon Street Grille and two art galleries.
Hall House has had many reports of paranormal activity. Phantom footsteps and unexplained crashes have been heard from empty rooms, while one woman reported seeing uniformed soldiers and ladies in long dresses lingering in the hotel. The building’s most mischievous spirit is known as the “Chessboard Ghost.” One of the shop owners had painted a chessboard on the surface of an old wooden coffee table. One day while he was working at the counter, he glanced at the chessboard and found the chess pieces in a line down the middle. A few weeks later, he found them lined up around the edge of the coffee table. On several occasions, the owner left the store at night with a game in progress on the chessboard and when he returned the next morning, he would find the pieces returned to their home positions. Rates start at $100 a night.
Dahlonega Walking Tours offers several guided haunted history tours, and the Ghost Tour runs every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. with special hours in October.
Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of their respective hotels except Anchuca Inn from Anchuca Facebook page. Featured photo is The Driskill.