Galveston has a very colourful, not to mention dramatic history. The island once served as a central point for commerce in Texas before it was decimated by a Hurricane in 1900. A large number of buildings were completely wiped out and the island never fully recovered from the disaster. It is this massive loss which seems to have triggered many of the most well known incidences of paranormal activity in Galveston, although there are a handful of newer tales too.
Join us in digging a little deeper into the history behind some of the most haunted places in Galveston, TX:
The Tremont House Hotel is one of two Tremont brand hotels on the island of Galveston. It was opened in 1872 and welcomed many celebrity guests including several US presidents, Buffalo Bill Cody and Anna Pavlova among others. It served as a shelter for hundreds of people during the great hurricane of 1900. However, it was closed in 1928 and quickly fell into disrepair leading to its demolition.
A new Tremont House now stands in its place and it boasts 119 rooms taking up one and a half blocks! It also boasts a number of spirits who call the Tremont home. One of the most commonly spotted ghosts here is a Civil War soldier who usually haunts the first floor lobby, bar, dining room and office. He marches back and forth as though standing guard.
There is also said to be another male spirit in the hotel who goes by the name of The Lucky Man or just ‘Sam’. He is apparently a salesman who walks with a limp who was murdered as he slept after winning big gambling that night. He is blamed for most of the paranormal occurrences on the fourth floor. Other spirits said to be in the hotel include a little boy named Jimmy, a ghost who loves to scatter guests clothing around and a number of storm victims!
7. Seawall Walmart
If there is one place that you probably did not expect to find on a list of Galveston’s most haunted locations then it is probably the local branch of Walmart. However, the Seawall Walmart is built on the land that was once occupied by St Mary’s Orphanage and employees say that many of the children are still around! Toys often move around the store when there are no customers around and entire pallets of toy inventory have gone missing only to reappear later. There are also frequent reports of children laughing or crying and a couple of employees have even seen apparitions of the children.
6. The Bishop's Palace
The Bishop’s Palace was finished in 1893 and it is one of the few original buildings on Galveston which survived the hurricane of 1900. According to the locals, the original owner Walter Gresham is highly protective of the property and still haunts the building. He is most often spotted during, or just before freak weather events. Those who have seen him have described him as being in an agitated state as he paces backwards and forwards across the front porch. He seems concerned that even though Bishop’s Palace managed to survive in 1900 it might not be so lucky the next time!
5. Ashton Villa Mansion
Ashton Villa Mansion was built between 1861 and 1865 by wealthy Texan businessman James Brown who was keen to show people just how well off he was! The 3 storey mansion is fit for royalty and was likely the first home in Texas to be constructed in all brick. The house was put to use as a hospital during the Civil War and spent time under the control of both the Union and the Confederates at one time or another.
These days, the property is considered to be one of the most haunted places in Galveston. Among the reports of paranormal activity there are sightings of a beautiful blonde woman wearing a turquoise colored evening gown and holding an ornate fan. This is believed to be an apparition of James Brown’s eldest daughter Miss Bettie Brown.
Other paranormal activity around the house includes ceiling fans turning on, the alarm going off for no reason and phantom piano music. The piano music is attributed to Bettie’s younger sister Tilly Brown. Staff have also reported seeing civil war era soldiers around the property from time to time.
4. Van Alstyne House
Van Alystyne House was built in 1891 and it is nicknamed ‘The Gingerbread House’ because of its distinctive appearance. For many years the building housed an antiques store, but the owners eventually had to abandon it because of an onslaught of paranormal activity. Just some of the activity that they reported over the years included the alarms going off in the night for no apparent reason, tables being completely flipped over, a toy truck rolling towards a visiting police officer and a disembodied voice threatening a visitor that he was going to die if he did not leave immediately!
3. Maison Rouge
In his day, the pirate king Jean Lafitte is said to have ruled Galveston with an iron fist and apparently he buried treasure somewhere on the island. This is why you will find the area where Maison Rouge once stood completely fenced off. There were too many treasure hunters coming to dig up the property in search of his loot!
The foundations that are visible there are not in fact those belonging to Maison Rouge, but rather a house known as 12 Gables which was built there much later by Captain Hendricks. Over the years there have been many reports of unexplained noises coming from the ruins. These range from the sound of men arguing with one another to the sounds of some kind of party. Whenever witnesses get close the noise stops abruptly.
There have also been reports of some strange light anomalies and little balls of bright blue, red, white and yellow floating around the ruins of Maison Rouge. These seem to linger in the air before moving quickly across the yard and up what would have been the front stairs of the house! There have even been reports of shadow figure moving between the ruins. This certainly is one of the most haunted places in Galveston!
The Hotel Galvez is apparently the oldest hotel on the island and it just so happens to be one of the most haunted places in Galveston too. In particular, room number 505 is a hotbed of paranormal activity and very few guests have managed to last the entire night in the room due to the uneasy feeling they experience. People tend to feel very uncomfortable in the room and they have described smelling the unexplained scent of gardenias in the room as well.
There are said to be a number of different spirits haunting the hotel including one known as ‘the lovelorn lady’. She is apparently the ghost of a bride to be named Audra who was staying at the Hotel Galvez while her intended was off at sea. She liked to take the elevator up to the 8th floor where she could climb out onto one of the turrets on the roof and watch for her love’s ship returning. One night following a terrible storm, Audra heard that his ship had been lost and promptly hung herself in room 501. Ironically, her fiancé arrived home safe only to learn of her death. She is now said to haunt the room in which she died. Guests have had doors slam, lights malfunction and seen strange lights in the room.
Audra is by no means the only ghost haunting this hotel, there are also many reports of the apparition of a nun called Sister Katherine who haunts the wast wing of the hotel, a little girl in period dress who plays in the lobby and a male spirit who harasses ladies in the first floor bathroom!
1. Stewart's Mansion
Stewart’s Mansion was once part of Stewart Ranch which was gifted to the State of Texas in 1969 and became what is now known as Galveston Island State Park. The mansion was not part of the gift, but it is known to be one of the most haunted places in Galveston with several different entities tied to the property. Many of these are linked to the location of the mansion and its significant role in Galveston history. For example, just beyond the gates there is a historical marker for ‘Lafitte’s Grove’ indicating the location of Jean Lafitte’s headquarters during the Battle of Three Trees between Lafitte and the Karankawa Indians in 1821.
Caretakers at Stewart’s Mansion have reported seeing apparitions of Native Americans and Pirates in the area and also hearing the sounds of cannons, muskets, cries and screams which sound like an echo of the battle itself. There are also reports of disembodied growls and barks often accompanied by the smell of wet dog which has been attributed to a legend regarding a pack of 12 black dogs belonging to Pirate King Jean Laffite. Apparently a vodoo queen performed a ritual over the pups as they were born transforming them into supernatural ‘hell hounds’ with flaming red eyes! The voodoo queen herself has also been seen around Stewart’s Mansion dressed in dirty clothes and wearing a necklace of bones. There have also been reports of shadow figures darting between the trees around the property. This truly is one of the most haunted places in Galveston.