Discomfort

At these 13 Southern hotels and inns that are haunted, you can discover a relaxing getaway while you’re seeking spirits.
By Pam Grout

In honor of Halloween, when the world’s restless spirits rear their severed heads, we’ve put together a list of the South’s spookiest haunts. These 13 historical hotels and inns–each with a tantalizing tale and at least one guest who checked in but never checked out–are the best for getting your Halloween fright on.

Kehoe

Above: The 13-room Kehoe House in Savannah, Ga., is allegedly haunted by a pair of twins. Kehoe House photos

Below: A lovely staircase welcomes guests at Savannah’s Marshall House, which offers haunted trolley tours. Marshall House photo

Lobby Stairs
1. 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa,
Eureka Springs, Ark.
The ghost: Norman Baker
Best chance for sighting: rooms 218, 419 and the Crystal Dining Room

During the 1930s, Norman Baker ran a controversial cancer hospital and health resort at the hotel. Although room 218 is often requested by parapsychologists, the entire hotel is allegedly haunted by the eccentric Baker. Look for ghosts in Victorian garb in the mirrors of the hotel’s Crystal Dining Room, a white-uniformed nurse pushing a gurney and Theodora, who introduces herself as a cancer patient before vanishing in thin air.

This AAA three Diamond property offers a discount to members. Ask about ghost packages and October tours of haunted Eureka Springs.

2. Olde Harbour Inn, Savannah, Ga.
The ghost: Hank
Best chance for sighting: room 406

Named America’s most haunted city by the American Institute of Parapsychology in Thomasville, Ga., Savannah offers nearly two dozen haunted tours from candle-lit pub crawls to voodoo cemetery tours. Much of the historic downtown was built over a colonial cemetery and every historical hotel worth its smelling salts has at least one otherworldly resident. At Olde Harbour Inn, the resident ghost is Hank who smokes cigars and knocks coins and books off shelves at the bed-and-breakfast inn that was an 1812 warehouse.

This AAA three Diamond property offers a discount to members.

3. Marshall House, Savannah, Ga.
The ghost: several, including a child
Best chance for sighting: foyer and hallways

The history of this stately 68-room inn includes its use as a hospital during the Civil War. This year, Marshall House completed a $1.5 million renovation. While rooms and suites have a fresh look, paranormal activity–especially on the fourth floor–remains part of the inn’s historical ambiance. Marshall House offers a two-night package that includes a haunted trolley tour, a copy of “Savannah Ghosts” by Al Cobb and continental breakfast.

This AAA three Diamond property offers a discount to members.

4. Kehoe House, Savannah, Ga.
The ghost: ethereal twins
Best chance for sighting: rooms 201 and 203

This 13-room inn is allegedly haunted by a pair of twins who lost their lives playing in one of the ornate mansion’s many fireplaces. William Kehoe, owner of an ironworks foundry who built the Queen Anne mansion in 1892, sired 10 children, and all the fireplaces, now boarded up, are decorated with ironwork angels. With a short stint as a funeral parlor, the Kehoe House also was owned in the 1980s by New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath.

This AAA three Diamond property offers a discount to members.

5. 17 Hundred 90 Inn, Savannah, Ga.
The ghost: Anna Powers
Best chance for sighting: room 204

This 14-room inn is allegedly home to Anna, the ghost with a penchant for room 204. She flung herself off the third floor balcony, although the reason is unclear. Some say she was in love with a married man. Others say she was married to one man and in love with another.

6. Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, La.
The ghosts: Solemn John and Maurice Bergere
Best chance for sighting: 14th floor

During its 122-year history, this family-owned hotel in the French Quarter has been a favorite haunt of William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway–who immortalized its Carousel Bar in his short story “Night Before Battle”–and dozens of other literary greats.

This AAA four Diamond property also is the stomping ground of several ghosts including Maurice, a young boy who roams the 14th floor looking for his father Jacques Bergere, who was thrown from his buggy when returning to the hotel, and Solemn John, a Tennessee businessman who lost his fortune during the Great Depression. A door in Hotel Monteleone’s restaurant opens and closes every evening even though it’s locked and an elevator often stops on the wrong floor.

7. Hotel Maison de Ville, New Orleans, La.
The ghost: Soldier with a penchant for country music
Best chance for sighting: Audubon Cottage No. 4

For 20 years, a soldier has haunted this charming boutique hotel where Tennessee Williams wrote “A Streetcar Named Desire” and where Antoine Amedee Peychaud supposedly invented the cocktail. No matter what radio station guests in cottage no. 4 tune their radios to, the spirited soldier switches it to country music.

This AAA three Diamond property offers a discount to members.

8. Hotel Provincial, New Orleans, La.
The ghost: a young nurse or novice wearing white
Best chance for sighting: Building 500

Just blocks from Bourbon Street, this hotel is on land originally bequeathed by King Louis XV. The building is frequented by a kind disembodied soul (she has even been known to help make beds) who employees believe might have been a nurse in the military hospital built on the site in the 1720s by Ursuline nuns. The spirit is seen winding her way through the building’s stairwells.

This AAA three Diamond property offers a discount to members.

9. Cedar Grove Inn, Vicksburg, Miss.
The ghost: Willie Klein
Best chance for sighting: anywhere on the mansion’s five flowering acres

This antebellum estate is reputedly haunted by young Willie Klein, one of John and Elizabeth Klein’s 10 children, who locals claimed was cursed for being named after his mother’s cousin, the hated Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Willie is joined in his hauntings by his father who allegedly leaves behind pipe smoke in the inn’s non-smoking Red Library, and a former tour guide who always joked she’d come back to the mansion on the bluff when she died.

This AAA three Diamond property offers a discount to members.

10. The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, N.C.
The ghost: Dr. William Jacocks
Best chance for sighting: room 252

William Jacocks, a doctor who spent the last 17 years of his life at this plantation-style inn in the Chapel Hill historic district, isn’t quite ready to give up his room. Guests and staff report the heavyset spirit in a black suit and knit hat moves from room to room, the smell of his favorite cologne in the air. In 2005, paranormal researchers conducted a Ghost Hunter 101 class, and discerned that Jacocks is one of several ghosts. The scent of flowers is often noticed in room 252, his former apartment–even though no blossoms are present.

This AAA four Diamond property offers a discount to members.

11. Stone Lion Inn, Guthrie, Okla.
The ghost: Irene Houghton
Best chance for sighting: Cora Diehl Room

Irene was 7 years old, suffering from whooping cough, when the maid accidentally over-medicated her with codeine and opium-laced cough syrup. In 1986, Becky Luker bought the stately Victorian mansion that was built by cotton baron F.E. Houghton in 1907. For the sake of her children, she tried to keep the young ghost a secret.

“We refused to use the G word,” Luker says even though her son, now a tax attorney, regularly encountered the young ghost in his toy closet.

Irene and the other ghosts left behind during the 1920s and ’30s when the Houghton home was a funeral parlor today are potent selling tools. Luker even uses the mortuary’s old porcelain embalming table as a bar. “It’s a different kind of pickling,” she says, jokingly.

Popular Murder Mystery weekends often sell out. The property is not AAA-rated, but she offers a 5-percent discount to members.

12. General Morgan Inn, Greeneville, Tenn.
The ghost: Green Room Grace
Best chance for sighting: Brumley’s restaurant in the Green Room

This 1884 railroad hotel in Tennessee’s Nolichucky River Valley has been visited by a prank-playing waitress named Grace. It’s believed that Grace was a server at the hotel when it opened or in the early 1900s. She has a thing about swiping spoons (she leaves the rest of the silverware alone). Appalachian GhostWalks starts their haunted Greenville tour from the hotel’s front steps.

13. Hotel Galvez, Galveston, Texas
The ghost: Lovelorn lady
Best chance for sighting: room 501 and fifth floor

Built in 1911, this eight-story Grande Dame of the Gulf that hosted Teddy Roosevelt, Howard Hughes and Frank Sinatra is also the home of an even more famous ghost. The pining woman whose ghost haunts the historic hotel checked into room 501 to await the return of her seafaring fiancée. After months of climbing to the turrets on the top floor to look for his returning ship, she mistakenly heard he’d perished at sea and hung herself. Wearing white, she is often seen roaming the hallway of the fifth floor. The hotel offers a Ghost of Galveston package, a two-night stay complete with ghost tours, a copy of the book, “Ghost Along the Texas Coast,” and a recording device to detect spirits.

Pam Grout is a contributor from Lawrence, Kan.

Sept/Oct 2008 Issue

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