Winston Salem was founded in January 1753, though at that time it was simply known as Salem. The historic Brookstown Inn was originally built as a cotton mill in 1837. The company who first purchased the land, and built the property was known as the Salem Manufacturing Company.
During the mid-1800s many people had moved to the south, eager to make their fortunes with textiles–and many did. The Salem Manufacturing Company, founded by the Fries family, became an integral part of the cities success. In fact, the Salem Manufacturing Company was one of the first companies to have electricity installed in the mill, throughout the entire south.
Unfortunately, the mill, and the company, had some rough times ahead. From 1854, through the early 1900s, the mill was sold, and purchased numerous times, but continued to produce cotton.
By 1977, the large brick building was considered an important historic landmark in the city. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A New Purpose
Seven years later, the building was granted a new life, and a new purpose. The interior was carefully altered to accommodate hotel rooms, without jeopardizing the historic architectural features within. The Brookstown Inn opened its doors that same year, 1984. Originally, it had forty-one rooms available, but an expansion in 1991 brought the total of rooms up to seventy.
Today, the Brookstown Inn is a haven for anyone with an appreciation for history, and antiques. Nestled beside Old Salem, the historic district within the city, many people frequent here to relish in history, to learn about the city’s first Moravian settlers, and to enjoy the various museums located within the district.
Murder on the Fourth Floor
Others, however, visit the Brookstown Inn, knowing its reputation for being haunted. Some people argue that the hotel is haunted, due to its proximity to Old Salem, which is considered one of the most haunted places in Winston-Salem.
But the Brookstown Inn is haunted entirely in its own right. And when one learns of the incidents that have occurred there, it is easy to understand why.
Back when the building was still utilized as a cotton mill, the fourth floor had been designated as a makeshift dormitory for employees. Rumor has it that on one evening, two female mill workers were in the dorm, when a fight broke out between them. Nobody is sure what the argument entailed, but it quickly grew intense, and violent. One of the women allegedly shoved the other down the elevator shaft, killing her.
Now, a spirit called Sally frequently haunts the Brookstown Inn, and many people believe she is the ghost of the murdered mill worker. Staff, and guests alike have reported seeing a full bodied apparition of a female, both in the hallways, and in some of the guest rooms. Several guests claim that they have been woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of a woman screaming. Multiple reports claim that the woman was crying out “mercy, mercy!” when they had their experiences. A few unlucky guests have even woken up to find Sally, standing over them, watching while they sleep.
For those daring enough to wish to encounter Sally, it is believed that her former dormitory is now Room 401, which is among the more active locations within the hotel. She is said to wear a gray dress, has wiry, red hair, and extremely pale skin. Sally is also known for patting the foot of the bed, while people try to sleep in it.
A Place of Many Haunts
Sally isn’t the only spectre that permanently resides at the Brookstown. Late at night, guests are often woken up by the sound of children laughing, and playing in the hallway. One couple claims they saw the ghostly children running towards them. Each, a boy, and a girl, were wearing old nightshirts.
Phantom footsteps are another common occurrence at the Brookstown, though not as common as abnormal photographs. Orbs often show up in photographs, especially in corners, and on the ceilings of the building. Usually they are white, or a bright green. Even more unnerving is the fact that a few photographs have shown up where an outline of a woman is clearly visible, when there isn’t a single living soul in the shot, and the outline does seem to align with any nearby furniture.
Should anyone wish to stay the night here, proceed with caution. One guest believes that after her stay at the hotel, two spirits came back home with her, a young boy, and a matronly female. While the spirits themselves do not seem malevolent, paranormal activity is now routine in her house. The boy likes to move things around, such as her car keys, and the matronly ghost has taken to whispering the woman’s name, when she oversleeps.
Trouble Before the Hotel
Several paranormal enthusiasts who have stayed at the hotel have voiced their opinion that the building was haunted long before the Brookstown Inn ever opened its doors. The spiritual activity began during the interim time between being a mill, and being a hotel. At one point the space was used by a moving, and storage company. During this time some type of incident or damage occurred, and a brick wall needed to be replaced within the building.
That is when a construction crew found a human skeleton, inside the brick wall. One lady claims to have worked for the moving, and storage company during this time. She stated that once the body was discovered, strange things started happening. Employees began to refer to the spirit as Eddie.
While Sally is, by far, the most popular ghostly entity at the Brookstown Inn, the spirit of Eddie still seems quite active to this day. Eddie is known for wandering the hotel at night. His footsteps can often be heard on the wooden floors, especially in the lobby. Several guests, seemingly without any connection to each other, have reported that they suddenly found themselves awake in the middle of the night. As they tried to go back to sleep, they would hear someone whispering in their room. Yet, their families were clearly still sleeping, all around them. Upon further inspection, they discovered that the voice was coming from within the brick walls of their room.