The paranormal stories and legends surrounding the mysterious Holiday Inn Express in N-Riverwalk area in San Antonio, Texas are an impressive 150 years in the making. This isn’t a stay for the faint of heart, we must warn you. Be very afraid of the imminent danger that lurks at this haunted hotel in San Antonio.
Once the home of the Bexar County Jail, the ghost of prisoners’ past lurks and lingers about this historic Mission-Revival architecturally designed building located downtown.
Built in 1879, the jail was equipped with its very own execution chamber located on the top floor. Prisoners who met their untimely deaths were taken to this hidden quarters, a noose placed snugly around their necks, and then shot down through a trap door that catapulted them two stories below to their demise.
And the century-old bars fastened to the first floor of the building? Those were once intended to keep the prisoners from escaping. Historic prevention laws prevent them from being tampered with, and they serve as a reminder of the jail days of yore.
Think you have the guts to stay a night in a former jail where ghosts linger about throughout the night? Or does the thought of seeing an apparition in your room with a noose around its neck give you the creeps?
Those who have stayed in this dark place all tell of its chilling rooms…even in the dead of summer. The only way to know the true terror of staying a night in “jail” is to see so for yourself…
Old Bexar County Jail History
Located in downtown San Antonio, Texas, this haunted hotel was constructed in 1879. Due to the city’s rapidly growing population, the building was erected with the intention of accommodating the city’s incarcerated population with a two-story limestone building that could allow for 70 inmates at full capacity. At the time that it was built, it was praised by many as a pinnacle of design and engineering:
“This jail has stood the test of three years’ use, during which time the worst characters from San Antonio to the Rio Grande have been sent here for safe keeping…The modern method of jail building, as shown in the Bexar County jail, is perfection for light, air, space, and ventilation, combined with security.”
But despite the beauty of this building, the energy inside was one of true terror, labeling it by many as Death Row on the River. Coincidentally, the building was deemed too small by 1912. Unable to accommodate the massive influx in population in San Antonio and surrounding areas, a third story was constructed during that year to house the increasing criminal population. Some of the worst criminals in San Antonio’s long history have called the Bexar County Jail House their home, as well as the place where they took their final breath.
By 1926, the same problem arose again due to sudden population increase, but this time, two stories were then added to the Bexar County Jail House. Thus, the notorious fifth floor execution chamber was born. Most prisons used outdoor gallow systems to execute those inmates appointed to death row, but such was not an option due to the obvious lack of outdoor space in a downtown setting. Prominent Texas architect Henry Phelps took this key factor into consideration when helping to redesign the building’s infrastructure during remodeling, and carefully crafted the third floor as to be the two foot fall of death for inmates that had reached their end of the line–or rope, to be technical.
It wasn’t until 1926 when public execution was outlawed in the city of San Antonio that the morbidly curious citizens would no longer have the ability to gather for a glimpse of a body dangling in the prison’s dreary windows.
After almost 100 years of operation, the Bexar County Jail closed its doors in 1962. It was not until 2002 that Baywood Hotels purchased the property and converted it into a hotel; later becoming the Holiday Inn Express in 2009.
Still, there is great darkness surrounding the building that is home to hundreds of executions and hushed rumors of obvious paranormal activity.
Hauntings of the Old Bexar County Jail
This five story hotel offers guests in search of paranormal activity a real treat. There are countless tales of unexpected occurrences and strange coincidences that fills these halls and rooms of mysterious energy.
To this day, there are numerous reports of the hotel’s peculiarly cold rooms… even in the summer or when the heat is on in the midst of winter–a chilling draft that refuses to abate regardless of season. Many guests have also said that their rooms have felt as if there is a strange presence moving about, indentations on beds that seem to disappear out of the thin air. But worse, many guests who stay on the floor where the gallows were once located have spoken of dark figures that appeared to be hanging by the end of a rope in plain sight.
Guests of the Holiday Inn Express near the Riverwalk often report strange and suddenly alarming sounds at all hours of the night, waking them from a deep sleep in a state of horror. Other guests of this haunted hotel have admitted to having objects ripped straight from their hands, and lights flickering on and off throughout the hallways.
And if that isn’t enough to entice you–or even terrify you–there are still visible scratches and marks along the walls of the chutes were many of the unfortunate prisoners met their end of the rope.