Historic locales hold haunted habitants

Katie Walsh

While haunted houses such as The House of Torment and Night Terrors offer fake blood and zombies, Austin landmarks such as Shoal Creek and The Driskill hotel offer a real-life scare.

Below is a list of four locations in the heart of Austin that are reported to have house spirits — from ghosts of suicidal brides in The Driskill to the friendly spirits of Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street. 

Shoal Creek Greenbelt
3398 Shoal Creek Blvd.

Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

On the north end of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt near 34th Street stands a historical marker commemorating Gideon White, a pioneer who was killed by a group of Native Americans in 1842. Many urban legends surround the creek’s alleged ghosts. 

Alejandro Dominguez, paranormal investigator and UT alumnus, said he took a recording device down to the creek near the historical marker and recorded the white noise. He said sometimes spirits communicate in frequencies that humans are incapable of hearing. 

“The best thing that I have found there was a couple voices,” Dominguez said. “They’re really hard to make out. I don’t know if they were Native American, but they certainly didn’t sound English.”

On the other side of Shoal Creek, near Pease Park, Dominguez said to look for lanterns floating at night. He said treasure hunters came to the creek for many years, lanterns in hand, in search of a lost treasure.

The Driskill
604 Brazos St.

Matt Robertson | Daily Texan Staff

In 1886, Civil War Col. Jesse Driskill built what is now The Driskill hotel on Sixth Street. The compulsive gambler died in 1890 but according to urban legend, he continues to haunt the hotel, appearing in guests’ rooms and filling them with the smell of cigar smoke. 

Other spirits said to lurk in the hotel’s walls include a little girl playing with a bouncing ball and the Depression-era hotel manager who lingers in the hotel lobby, according to Fiona Broome, author of The Ghosts of Austin, Texas.

Ghosts of suicidal brides, security guards and former President Lyndon B. Johnson are also rumored to appear throughout the hotel, making it Mashable’s second most haunted hotel in the country.

Texas Governor’s Mansion
1010 Colorado St.

Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

If the urban legends are correct, Greg Abbott and his family are not the only ones currently inhabiting the Texas Governor’s Mansion. Ghosts of former governors, most notably Sam Houston, are rumored to pace the halls of the historic landmark built
in 1854. 

Debe Branning, a haunted places examiner, wrote in an article for the Examiner that former Gov. Mark White and his wife experienced an encounter they attribute to Houston’s ghost. One night after putting the children to bed, Mark’s wife Linda turned off the light that illuminated the portrait of Houston in the hall. The next morning, the light was back on and their bedroom door ajar. 

In addition to Sam Houston’s ghost, moaning is said to be heard from former Gov. Pendleton Murrah’s nephew who killed himself upstairs after a failed marriage proposal

Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street
1809 Pearl St.

Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

On the edge of West Campus sits a quaint hotel that dates back to 1914, when it was the private residence of Judge Charles A. Wilcox and his family. When Wilcox died, the house was abandoned until 1993 when the current owner, Jill Beckford, brought it back to life as Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street. 

In the early days of the restoration, Beckford said she noticed suspicious activity in the building, such as a broom falling over every time she approached it. She said she expected spirits to live inside the home considering its age and history. 

“It’s a natural phenomenon for me because I lived on a farm in Iowa and we had [spirits] there too I think,” Beckford said. “I really didn’t believe in it, but then you start to think ‘well how else do you explain these happenings?’”

Over the years, Beckford has heard stories from guests about the “friendly spirits.” Two guests told her they saw an apparition of a woman dressed in white sitting in a rocker with two babies.

Beckford said she has gotten used to the spirits and has declined offers from exorcists to have them removed. She said the guests and the friendly spirits have peacefully co-existed for over 20 years and she doesn’t want them to leave.

“I feel protected by them,” Beckford said. “I feel that they are here for a reason and I am really enjoying their company.”