Monthly Archives: January 2016

Haunted Hotel Stays for you to explore!

3 haunted hotels recommended
by Michael O. Varhola in his book
Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin,
and Texas Hill Country

Sheraton Gunter HotelSheraton Gunter Hotel San Antonio, Downtown San Antonio
Since 1837, travelers and visitors to San Antonio have often found one of the nicest and most convenient hotels in the city to be located at a particular corner about 100 yards from the bank of the river. Over the years, this establishment has had many different names, occupied successively larger and more elaborate buildings, been controlled by the armies of four nations, and collectively contributed to a fascinating and colorful history. One of those colors, however, has been that of blood, and gruesome events have occurred at the hotel, leading to its reputation as a venue for hauntings and paranormal activity. The Sheraton Gunter Hotel retains its role as a unique part of San Antonio’s rich and multifaceted heritage. It also remains, with good reason, one of the most haunted hotels in the Alamo city. To book a stay visit their website.

Faust Hotel New BraunsfeldFaust Hotel, New Braunfels – Comal County
Over the past few decades, the Faust Hotel has increasingly gained a widespread reputation for being haunted and has attracted the attention of various paranormal investigative groups. I have visited the hotel a number of times since 2009 and, among other things, have spent the night there, conducted investigations on or around Halloween twice, and appeared as a guest on the PSI-FI Radio show while there. It has, in fact, become one of my favorite sites in the Greater San Antonio area, not just for the strange things associated with it but also for its colorful history. The Faust is indeed haunted, of that I am sure. Visit it next time you are passing through New Braunfels, have a microbrew beer made on the premises in its taproom, ride up and down the elevator a few times, and, if you can, spend the night and see if you experience anything for yourself. Ready to do your own investigation? Here is the website of the Faust Hotel.

Ye Kendall InnYe Kendall Inn, Boerne – Kendall County
One of the most impressive and welcoming of the many haunted establishments that can be found throughout the Hill Country is, without a doubt, Ye Kendall Inn, the sprawling hotel, restaurant, and event complex that dominates the main square in the town of Boerne. Ye Kendall Inn is well known in the local area for being haunted, and I was well aware of its reputation before visiting it for the first time.

With a colorful history and so many people passing through its doors, dwelling in its rooms, and experiencing the full range of human emotions within its walls, it is perhaps not surprising that Ye Kendall Inn would have a reputation for being haunted and have so much ghostly lore associated with it. That being the case, I was almost surprised that no anomalies turned up in any of my photos or audio recordings and that I did not experience anything that might be interpreted as supernatural in origin.

I was not, however, disappointed, because it is not reasonable to expect spirits to perform on demand or reveal their presence during the short piece of eternity in which a living person is visiting their haunt. And I did very much enjoy the ambience, history, and hospitality of the place during the few hours that I spent exploring its halls, public areas, and guestrooms. I was left looking forward to my next visit and a more detailed investigation of Ye Kendall Inn. To book a stay at Ye Kendall Inn, visit their website, and make sure to report back any ghostly sightings to the author.

In Michael’s book Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country, you can read the complete history and ghost stories for these three hotels. The stories are part of 27 haunted sites thoroughly researched and covered.

 

The Ghosts of Graceland Cemetery

Graceland CemeteryThe whole concept of cemeteries as good places to find ghosts has been under discussion recently. Many psychic researchers believe that ghosts haunt places that have some meaningful relevance to their former lives. Sometimes these places recalled happy times: the houses in which they were children or, perhaps, the homes in which they raised their own families. On a grimmer note, these places could be prisons or hospitals—or other places where they spent unhappy, traumatic, or eventful times. But why a cemetery, a place where no living person longs to be and a place that, at most, is only a brief stopping point between death and the hereafter? If you were a ghost, would you rather wander around some old cemetery, or would you rather go back to your home or to some other happy place? Still, ghosts are found in cemeteries, possibly because they are somehow trapped there, bound to the spot in a psychic force that we do not understand. Noted psychic researchers Lorraine and Ed Warren would say that cemeteries are spawning grounds for evil spirits and may be portals to a nasty and demonic realm. My own experiences have shown me that far more hauntings occur outside of cemeteries than in them, but here are some stories about graveyard ghosts.

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago does have its ghosts. The most noted Graceland ghost is that of little Inez Clarke, who died in 1880 at the age of 6, apparently killed by lightning while on a family picnic. Her grief-stricken parents commissioned a life-sized statue of their daughter to be placed upon a stone base above her grave. The statue was shielded from the elements by a protective glass box.

The stories associated with the ghost of Inez include strange weeping sounds that are heard near the statue, as well as the vision of a child who vanishes into thin air near her grave. The most interesting stories, however, concern the statue itself. It is said that sometimes the statue will disappear from within its glass box. This has been noted especially during thunderstorms, which seem to make sense because the child was killed by lightning. Perhaps poor Inez belatedly runs for cover as she relives the awful day she died. Psychic researcher Troy Taylor says that more than one security guard at Graceland has reported seeing the empty box, only later to find the statue returned to its usual place inside. One guard quit shortly after finding the glass box empty one night.

Graceland CemeteryAnother story from Graceland is not so much a ghost story as it is simply a weird legend. The final resting place of Dexter Graves—I’m serious, that’s his name—is marked by a larger-than-life statue called “Eternal Silence.”

It is an extremely creepy statue of a brooding man wrapped up in a voluminous robe. One arm, buried beneath the folds of the robe, is raised parallel to the ground, covering the mouth and lower half of the face. Only the eyes and nose are visible beneath the cowl of the robe. Over the years since Graves died in 1831, the effects of weather have turned the statue pale green, all except for the face, which remains black, having been protected from the weather by the robe’s deep folds.

The legend says that anyone who looks into the figure’s face will catch a glimpse of his own death.

For more hair-raising stories from Illinois, check out Ghosthunting Illinois by John B. Kachuba.

Delray Beach Colony Hotel & Cabaña Club

Haunted stories from the Delray Beach Colony Hotel & Cabaña Club

A Haunted story from Ghosthunting Florida
by Dave Lapham

Colony HotelThe Colony Hotel and Cabaña Club is not the Biltmore, but it is a really spectacular hotel. The three of us—Joanne, Sue, and I—had spent most of the previous day and evening exploring the Biltmore and talking to people there. We were tired, but the following morning we got an early start and drove the 50 miles north to Delray Beach, just above Boca Raton.

Like the Biltmore, the Colony, sister hotel to the Colony in Kennebunkport, Maine, was built in 1926 by the father-and-son team of Charles and George Bowden, to cater to the hordes of well-to-do Northerners who flocked to Florida to escape the cold, snowy winters and bask in the sunshine and leisurely Florida lifestyle.

For many years, the hotel was closed during summer months, when the entire staff moved to its sister hotel in Kennebunkport. Furniture was covered with sheets. All but a few lights and all other nonessential electricity were turned off. Cobwebs and dust collected in corners, windowsills, furniture, and floors. A caretaker was left behind to perform minimal maintenance on the grounds, cutting grass, watering plants, and providing some security. But in summer, even with a caretaker around, the Colony looked mostly abandoned, forlorn, and even ghostly.

Perhaps because the hotel was closed much of the year and for so many years, rumors of strange happenings grew about the place, including tales of mysterious lights, sightings of apparitions, and unexplained sounds emanating from the building. Maybe they were true or maybe they were just the imaginings of strollers passing by in the dark. In any case, the Colony developed a reputation for being haunted.

One summer evening during the off-season, a couple was walking down the street past the empty hotel and saw, or thought they saw, movement inside. The figures they saw seemed to be running back and forth in the darkened building. They thought perhaps kids had broken into the place and were robbing or ransacking it. This was in the days before cell phones, so they crossed the street to a gas station and called the police, who quickly responded. Several squad cars arrived, and officers walked around the exterior to check for signs of a break-in. There were none, so they contacted the caretaker to get permission to enter. Inside, a quick check revealed that all the doors were locked and the alarm system was functioning properly. It had not been tampered with.

One officer was standing in the lobby when suddenly the elevator started rumbling as if it were moving. Then it stopped and chimed, the usual signal indicating that it had arrived at the desired floor. The doors opened, but no one came out. The officer stood there watching, dumbstruck. Now quite nervous, he radioed his partner, who joined him in the lobby. Together they finished their investigation and left, the caretaker locking up and resetting the alarm behind them. They had found nothing out of order.

During the same period, passersby began reporting orbs, or balls of light, flying erratically in front of second-story windows. These orbs became quite common for several months, and many people reported seeing them. Then, as suddenly as they had begun appearing, they disappeared. None have been reported since 1989.

In 1999 the hotel began staying open year-round, and the stories of paranormal activity have persisted. Guests have reported strange lights and dark figures moving through the hotel, and  some have heard music coming from the darkened and empty dining room. The music can be heard only on moonless nights and early in the morning, before 3 a.m. And some have heard female voices coming from the dining room, when no one was there.

Knott House Museum

One staff member reported that on several occasions he has heard noises from the empty kitchen: pots clanging, utensils being dropped, an occasional plate shattering on the floor. He said that, each time, he has gone in to see what was going on, half expecting to find a mess. What he found was a kitchen in perfect order, pots hanging and dishes stacked where they should be. Justina Broughton, Charles Bowden’s granddaughter, has reported hearing animated discussions coming from the office and the kitchen. When she was a child during the off-season, she would often accompany her father into the closed hotel and run through the halls and empty rooms. She recalls that she often caught fleeting glimpses of something or someone out of the corner of her eye and thought nothing of it at the time. And more than once she saw an older, well-dressed man reflected in the glass cover of a painting. She had the odd sensation that he was her grandfather, and well he may have been. In any case, her experiences were always benign, even pleasant.

We were welcomed by a friendly staff. Although most of the people we talked to were a bit reluctant to discuss the paranormal activity there, they allowed us to roam around and take a look for ourselves. As we walked around, Joanne was able to confirm many of the stories we had heard from others or read about. She saw dark, fleeting figures in the dining room and hallways and heard the clanging of pots and pans coming from the kitchen, as well as music and muffled voices in the dining room. She didn’t find anything peculiar about the elevator but did sense activity on the second floor. Mostly, she confirmed what we already knew.

We couldn’t stay very late, so we were not able to experience anything that might be taking place in the wee hours, but I have no doubt of their veracity. As we left the Colony, I promised Sue I’d bring her back for a long weekend. It seemed a wonderful, romantic place for a getaway.

In his book Ghosthunting Florida, Author David Lapham visits more than 30 legendary haunted places in the Sunshine State.

The Old Jail

Haunted Bed & Breakfast welcomes guests
in Taylors Falls, MN

A tale from the Twin Cities Haunted Handbook by Jeff Morris, Garett Merk, and Dain Charbonneau

Old Jail Taylors FallsThe Old Jail Bed &  Breakfast was, in fact, at one time a jail. The history of the property started much earlier than that, however.  The original structure was actually a saloon built by the Schottmuller Brothers in 1869. The saloon building was connected to a cave, which ran to their brewery.  The beer was brewed in their brewery and then was stored in the lower cave temperatures before being served to the men at the saloon.

In 1884, the area needed a jail, which was built directly adjacent to the saloon.  Some people surmised that the reason for this was so that rowdy drunks could be more easily jailed for the night after causing a scene at the saloon.

After the building was used as a saloon, a variety of other businesses occupied the cave and the structure.  At one time, the building was used as a mortuary, again utilizing the cool temperature of the cave for preservation purposes.  In 1981, the buildings on the property, including both the jail and the old saloon, were converted in the bed & breakfast, which currently occupies the property.

Ghost Story

Twin Cities Haunted Handbook

As far as ghostly activity at this bed & breakfast, at least three ghosts have been experienced here. The first ghost is that of a cat. While there are no reports of anyone actually seeing a cat in the building, people sometimes report feeling a cat jump into their bed in the middle of the night. When the startled lodgers get up to look for the cat, they find there is no such creature anywhere.

The other ghosts, a young boy and an older woman, have been seen together in the building. Sightings of these ghosts are often preceded by a glowing orb of light. Sometimes, the ghosts actually speak. During at least one instance, the young boy was reported to say, “Don’t be afraid; we are here to watch over you.”

For more information on rates and to book a room, visit the website of The Old Jail Bed & Breakfast or call (651) 465-3112.

Jeff Morris, Garett Merk, and Dain Charbonneau explore all the best haunted locales Minneapolis has to offer. Get your Twin Cities Haunted Handbook here.

 

The White Lady of Union Cemetery Easton, Connecticut

Union Cemetery EastonOne of Connecticut’s best-known ghosts haunts the Union Cemetery in Easton. The cemetery sits beside the centuries-old Easton Baptist Church near the intersection of Routes 59 and 136. The locals call the ghost “The White Lady,” and she has been seen by dozens of witnesses since the mid-twentieth century.

The legend of The White Lady contains several explanations about who she was and how she came to haunt the cemetery and nearby Route 59. One account says she was buried in the cemetery after she died during childbirth, and her confused spirit is desperately looking for her child. Two other versions say she was the victim of foul play. She was either murdered near the turn of the twentieth century and her body was thrown down a sinkhole behind the church, or her husband killed her sometime in the 1940s.

The White Lady of Union Cemetery Easton Appears Directly in Front of People’s Cars as They Drive by the Cemetery

Though her ghost has been seen moving about the cemetery late at night, most encounters take place on Route 59. The White Lady has a habit of appearing directly in front of people’s cars as they drive by the Union Cemetery, causing them to break hard and swerve to avoid impact. Any driver who has stopped to make sure the woman is all right finds no one around. A local fireman driving by the cemetery one night thought he struck a dark-haired woman in a white dress, who had walked right out into the road. Not only did this man feel the impact, he also discovered a dent on the hood of his vehicle. A search of the area turned up nothing.

union-cemetery-eastonWriter and paranormal enthusiast Jeff Belanger told me he grew up in this part of Connecticut and had heard many people talk about the White Lady. Jeff was once shown a video clip that was shot by the legendary paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who staked out the Union Cemetery one night in 1990. The Warrens had set up a video camera on a tripod in front of the main gates to the old burial ground and waited to see if The White Lady would make an appearance. Later that night they recorded nearly six seconds of video that Jeff Belanger called “compelling.”

Ed Warren told Belanger that at about 2:40 a.m., he heard the sound of a woman weeping in the cemetery. When Warren looked out into the field of headstones, he could see little points of light coalescing into the shape of a woman. This female form then began to move in his direction. Being the fearless ghosthunter that he was (Ed passed away in 2006), Ed tried to walk towards the specter, but as he did so, it dissipated and vanished from sight. Belanger said the video recording captured what looked like “a misty white form” taking shape into the outline of a human. The form then moved several feet through the graveyard before it faded into the ground by the front gates.

The Union Cemetery is closed after sunset, and the police do take notice of trespassers. So, if you do go for a visit, please be respectful.

To explore the scariest spots in Southern New England, check out Ghosthunting Southern New England by Andrew Lake.

 

Spooked in Seattle

Kurt Cobain’s Bench
By Ross Allison

Kurt Cobain Bench SeattleJust across the street from Viretta Park sits a house that once belonged to legendary grunge rocker Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.  On April 8, 1994 Kurt Cobain took his own life. An employee discovered his body in the spare room above the garage.  Some say his death may have been murder and not suicide.

It is believed that before his death Kurt spent most of his remaining days sitting on a bench just outside his house. Maybe that’s where he planned his last moments. Whether or not it’s true, people say that they can feel his presence near the bench. Others say they have seen him just sitting there, reliving his last few hours. Some have even reported feeling him breathe on them or touch them.  In fact, there have been reports of his face appearing in the window of his former home, and the new owners say that during thunderstorms, they can hear whispers from the former rock star himself.  If you visit the site, you’ll find a bench filled with flowers and cards and writings from fans who miss his inspirational talents.

The city parks department must replace the boards on the bench every so often due to the graffiti left by fans. One man believes he has obtained the original boards that Kurt himself sat on just before the tragic event.  After collecting these boards and placing them on his property, the man immediately began encountering strange things. He felt a chilling breeze shoot right past him, as if someone had run by him.  He’s heard odd noises and felt a presence, and he believes that Kurt’s spirit might be attached to these boards.

Many believe that the spirit of one who commits suicide remains earthbound, due to its troubled state of mind at the time of death. So perhaps Kurt’s ghost lingers as one of those hurting souls who may have regrets.

Ross Allison is the author of Spooked in Seattle. In his book he takes readers on a hair-raising ride through Seattle’s neighborhoods. Ross is the founder of A.G.H.O.S.T., one of the oldest, active paranormal investigation teams in Washington State.