Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hauntings: Galveston

 Galveston (Texas)

In 1900, a hurricane swept in off the Gulf of Mexico and pounded the Texas coast with winds up to 135 mph -- a "Category 4" storm in modern terminology.  Galveston suffered a 15-foot surge of water, which easily swamped the 8.7-foot-high island.  Together, the wind and the water destroyed almost everything in their path and created the worst natural disaster in America's history.  Between 6,000 and 12,000 people died.

The storm surge knocked buildings off their foundations and the surf pounded them to pieces.  Over 3,600 homes were destroyed and debris covered the ocean for miles.  The few buildings that survived were the solidly built mansions and houses along the high class Strand District, like the Hotel Galvez, Tremont House, Bishop’s Palace, and Ashton Villa. 


The most haunted places in Galveston:

The Galvez Hotel was a showpiece when it was built in 1911 and played host to U.S. presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.  In Room 505, a guest committed suicide after hearing that her fiancé had died in a shipwreck.  She’s been seen so many times, the staff calls her the "Lovelorn Lady." People have seen other apparitions and glowing orbs, too.

The original Tremont House was torn down, but a hotel of the same name was built in 1980 and replicates the original’s Victorian style.  Three apparitions haunt the Tremont House. A Civil War soldier haunts the first floor lobby, dining room, and lounge areas.  He’s usually seen marching as if guarding the hotel.  The “Lucky Man” is a Victorian era apparition who haunts the fourth floor.  He was a gambler on his way to his room with his winnings when he was viciously murdered.  It's said he hunts for his killer to this day.  The third apparition, “Jimmy,” haunts the back alley and the bar.  Guests and staff have seen glasses and bottles move when Jimmy is around.

The Bishop’s Palace (or the Haunted Castle of Galveston) is a stone mansion completed in 1893 at a cost of $250,000 -- an exorbitant sum at the time.  The owner, Walter Gresham had stained glass windows put in, along with many fireplaces, one of which is lined in silver.  Whenever Galveston is threatened by a hurricane, Walter Gresham’s ghost appears to warn the inhabitants of his house.
 

In 1859, Ashton Villa was the first brick house built in Texas.  Brick was expensive, but thought to be stronger than wood and would weather hurricanes better—and it did.  The ghost of Miss Bettie, a former resident of Ashton Villa who died in 1920, has been seen standing on the second floor landing of the grand staircase.




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