Texas Terror: Haunted Hotels for Halloween Getaways
By: Piper Meeks, Contributor
What better way to honor the dead than to meet them personally? All Hallows’ Eve is slowly creeping up on us and Texas has a number of places that are said to be haunted with ghosts of the past. The Historic Ott Hotel, the Menger Hotel, and the Crazy Water Retirement Hotel are just a few locations in Texas that are claimed to serve as permanent residences for the living dead. Whether you believe in spirits or not, you’re in for a treat should you decide to visit any of these places. After all, who doesn’t love a good ghost story?
The Historic Ott Hotel – Liberty, Texas
The Ott Hotel in Liberty is said to be the dwelling place of many lingering spirits that didn’t – and never will – check out. A number of deaths have been recorded in the hotel, including natural deaths, suicides, and homicides. The hotel is the home of two sets of lover suicides and one suicide-hanging. In another instance, a jealous husband caught his wife having an affair with a man and decided to end it by a murder-suicide, shooting the boyfriend and later himself in a passion-driven frenzy. Guests and hotel staff claim to hear the voices of two men and one woman arguing throughout the night coming from the second floor – the location of the murder-suicide. Employees say that each year on the anniversary date of this particular altercation, a shotgun being fired is heard from the top of the stairs that lead to the second floor. Are you scared yet? Brace yourself – there’s more.
Seeing floating orbs of all sizes and hues is not an uncommon experience at the Ott. One ghost leaves the smell of his cigar behind as he lingers throughout the hotel. Residents and guests refer to this spirit as “Bob.” Another regular is the “Blue man,” who is described as being half a man with only the upper half of his body revealed, which sports a skull and crossbones t-shirt.
The Hurricane Rita evacuation led one couple to take up residence in the Ott Hotel until they could return back home, but oddly they bolted the scene while the storm was in full force. Why? Well, one night while calling friends and relatives to assure them of their safety, a ghost appeared hovering over them in the form of a woman as they sat on the bed. They managed to snap a photograph of the apparition and quickly brought the evidence to hotel management; however, when they tried to show the photo, the cell phone stopped working completely. The couple didn’t stay that night.
After hearing of the Ott’s permanent guests, the “Louisiana Ghost Hunters,” a paranormal investigation group from Baton Rouge, requested to perform an investigation of the establishment. The plan was to stay for two or three nights, but after the first night, the crew left. Apparently, one night was all that was needed to provide plenty of evidence of supernatural activity through film, audio recordings, and electronic readings.
Need proof? Go to their website. It has actual photographs, video recordings, and eye witness accounts of the guests and residents, living and dead. It also reminds visitors to be sure to mention if they prefer a haunted room, because otherwise they “may be put in a regular hotel room,” and really, who would want that? One more thing: in an effort to maintain a historical image, the hotel rooms do not have televisions, clocks, computers, phones or even bathrooms. They do, however, provide other forms of entertainment: the living dead.
The Menger Hotel – San Antonio, Texas
It has been said that the Menger Hotel is the most haunted building in the world. Paranormal investigators from all over the country flock to the hotel, located adjacent to the historic Alamo, to experience what the guests claim to see there. Since its opening in 1859, many celebrities have stayed in the hotel, including U.S. presidents. In fact, Theodore Roosevelt is said to be seen on multiple occasions casually sipping on a drink at the hotel’s bar, the location where he recruited his cowboys as Rough Riders in the Spanish-American war.
Another common sighting is Geronimo, a Native American Indian leader that was imprisoned in the hotel’s basement many years ago. A woman wearing a blue dress and beret is often seen knitting in the lobby. Multiple guests claim to have seen a military man roaming through the halls. Another man in a buckskin jacket and gray pants is said to be heard arguing with somebody – or something – unseen. Captain Richard King, the founder of Texas’ famous King Ranch, has also been sighted there. King had a suite at the hotel and when he fell ill, he decided to spend his last months there. Following his death, however, he maintained a permanent residence in what the staff now refers to as the “King Suite.” He can be seen entering the room through a wall where the door used to be located before the hotel was remodeled.
The most popular permanent resident, however, is a chambermaid named Sallie White. In 1876, White worked at the hotel and reportedly started having an affair that would eventually cost her life. When her husband became suspicious, he visited her at work and found her in the sheets with her lover. Outraged, he beat her to death. The hotel footed the bill to have her body buried, but her spirit still lingers in the room where she was murdered and all throughout the halls where she worked. One guest actually complained to the front desk about a rude maid that ignored him – he said she was wearing a maid’s outfit and appeared to be from the 19th century.
The Crazy Water Retirement Hotel – Mineral Wells, Texas
Before the Crazy Water Retirement Hotel became a retirement home, it was a famous health resort and hotel that attracted people from all over the world. The hotel was built in 1914 on top of a well that was said to have “magic” mineral-rich water jam-packed with healing properties. In 1930, T.D. Baker bought the hotel and expanded its amenities to accommodate to the hundreds of thousands of visitors all over the world that sought to sip the miracle water.
Baker didn’t just jazz up the scenery, though. According to local legend, he provided a home for his mistress in the hotel so he could conveniently call her whenever he pleased. Although the legend becomes hazy on exactly why, one day Baker’s mistress jumped from her bedroom window on the seventh floor to end her life. However, whether she was attempting to escape from the hotel in general or from Baker, she was unsuccessful. Guests have reported seeing the red-headed mistress on the floor of her suite and some say they can even smell a hint of her perfume when walking through the hallways. According to former employees, T.D. Baker maintains a permanent residence at the Crazy Water as well.
The former owner and his mistress aren’t the only spirits that haunt the old hotel. The ghost of a former employee of the hotel that was chopped in half in a gruesome elevator accident in the 1950s has been sighted on multiple occasions. The apparition is said by witnesses to only be half of the boy’s mutilated body.
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