For more than a century, the Stockyards Hotel has offered quality lodgings right in the heart of historic Fort Worth, having served its share of the highest and lowest classes of people to have ever passed through this fair town. There are some, however, who say that not every person to have passed through has truly left, some leaving ghostly impressions behind that haunt the historic hotel to this day.
The early, boom years of the twentieth century brought much change to this country, and Texas was certainly no exception. With the stockyard industry prospering, especially around Fort Worth, accommodations were needed to deal with the sudden flow of cowboys and buyers in town. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of hotels sprung up in a short period of time, each of them with their own unique history and impact upon the town.
The pointedly named Stockyards Hotel is no exception. In operation since 1907, this hotel has served countless travelers (and the occasional outlaw) over the years, with vintage Old West flair and hospitality that can’t be beaten.
And yet, there are those who speak of strange occurrences within the quaint confines of this old hotel. Strange noises and bizarre events and a former employee who works the hotel despite having passed long ago call the Stockyards Hotel home, making it a truly fascinating haunted locale to explore.
History of the Stockyards Hotel
The dawn of the 20th century was a boom period for commerce along the developing American southwest, and with Texas at the forefront of this trend, many a business sprung up overnight to accommodate this sudden change. With many out-of-towners coming in to do business in cattle, cities like Fort Worth were suddenly deluged with a need for hotels and other hospitality options. Local businessmen were only too happy to meet the demand.
In 1904, property on the corner of East Exchange and North Main was purchased by local land developer Colonel T.M. Thannisch. He soon constructed a two-story wooden structure with west and south-facing balconies, the largest individually owned business on Exchange Avenue. Containing the Stock Yards Club Saloon and Billiard Parlor in the western portion, the remainder of the building accommodated furnished rooms for rent.
In 1907, Colonel Thannisch developed a 3 story brick building on the east end of the property meant to contain a wider variety of businesses, including a dedicated hotel, a barbershop, a candy store, real estate and insurance firms, and a restaurant. Though the original wooden structure was retained for some years to follow, by 1913 it was demolished and transformed into a new brick expansion.
Built to look uniform to the original brick structure, this new hotel expansion allowed for amenities that had been previously unconsidered for the original, smaller hotel. Added on were suite rooms with private baths that overlooked Exchange Avenue, two or more community baths on each floor, and ceiling fans and heating pipes that helped deal with brutal Texas summers and cold Texas winters alike.
While some hotels boast of having kings and queens and movie stars for guests (and the Stockyard Hotel’s hosted its fair share of Hollywood and country music royalty), the Stockyards Hotel’s biggest claim to fame among their clientele is none other than the Great Depression outlaws Bonnie & Clyde.
Staying in what is now dubbed the “Bonnie & Clyde Suite”, Room 305, the outlaw duo of violent bank robbers likely chose this room on the corner of East Exchange and North Main for strategic reasons. Rumor has it that they picked this room for its view of a nearby bank, and because it gave a great angle on the streets that would tell them if any sheriff’s posse were coming for them.
If you’re in the mood to walk through a dark chapter of American history in the shoes of some of its criminal greats, then you could do worse than rent Room 305 for the evening. Decorated with photographs, newspaper clippings and a case containing an actual .38 revolver used by Bonnie Parker herself.
By the early 1980s, the former glory days of the Stockyards Hotel were behind it, and while it still offered a unique look into Texan history, it had still clearly seen better times. In 1982, businessmen Tom Yater and Marshall Young purchased the property and spent two years on a complete restoration of the building.
Reopening in April of 1984, the Stockyards Hotel has since tried to provide service with an opulence befitting this great hotel’s glory days. With fine rooms and decadent suites that enchant guests from all walks of life to this day, the Stockyards Hotel is as much a traveler’s dream as it is a unique slice of Fort Worth history that some guests may never want to leave.
Some of them, in fact, may never have…
Stockyards Hotel Ghosts
Supernatural occurrences have allegedly plagued the Stockyards Hotel since its early days, many of which still like to make themselves known.
In Room 305, the infamous “Bonnie & Clyde Suite”, water has been known to turn off and on at random intervals.
Another room allegedly has had issues with its TV and radio turning off and on independently.
The hotel’s original elevator has been said to have a mind of its own by more than one hotel guest or employee, as it has been seen ascending and descending without anyone inside.
While the malfunctions could very well have any number of rational explanations, the strange, ghostly figures that have occasionally been seen to walk the Stockyards’ halls are another matter entirely.
A ghostly little girl has been seen by numerous people stepping off the elevator at the second floor, taking a couple steps, and immediately disappearing. Some speculate that she may be responsible for the elevator’s strange behavior, and while impossible to rule out, it might be best to be safe when taking the old elevator.
Several female guests have reported the feeling of an invisible figure crawling into bed with them in the night throughout the hotel, while people working the marketing department in the hotel’s basement have reported an unseen presence watching them.
The Cold Caller
The most detailed case of a specter in the Stockyards Hotel would be the evening when a night clerk kept getting strange phone calls. He would pick up the phone repeatedly, yet no one would answer.
After several calls like this, the clerk investigated the matter and found the calls were coming from the hotel’s lobby. He craned his neck, waiting for the next call to see who it was, yet when the call rang the clerk was startled, mostly because the lobby was completely empty.
Word among the hotel staff is that a lot of these paranormal happenings are because of a former hotel employee named Jake, who passed on many years ago. Though some of these occurrences are mischievous, even borderline hostile at times, Jake himself is said to be a relatively harmless spirit who is more than likely just going about his job as he did in life.
No matter what does and doesn’t happen inside the Stockyards Hotel’s walls, it is a truly unique hotel that gives a wonderful view back into Texas’ wild west heritage and should be a must-see to anyone looking into the city’s history, normal and paranormal alike.