They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes ghost stories. There are so many haunted places in the state’s capital alone that I decided to do a whole post on them. Let’s talk about 10 creepy haunted places in Austin, Texas.
1. Omni Hotel
This beautiful hotel in downtown Austin boasts nearly 400 rooms and is ranked # 23 in Best Austin Hotels by U.S. News & World Report. Is it so nice that someone checked in and never wanted to check out?
The Omni Hotel is said to be haunted by a man named Jack, who jumped to his death while staying there on a business trip. Right after his death, the staff refused to clean his room for awhile because they were so creeped out. But the creep factor didn’t stop once the room opened back up. Guests staying in Jack’s old room have reported seeing phantom shadows and curtains moving, presumably when the air conditioner was off. They’ve also said they felt like someone was in the room with them, crawled into bed with them or even watched them while they slept! Even when the room is vacant, witnesses report strange sounds coming from inside. And Jack doesn’t just stay hidden in his room all the time — he’s also been spotted wandering around the building.
2. St. Edward's University
Doyle Hall reportedly harbors a ghost nun. This nun is said to turn showers in the building on and off, which has got to be annoying if you’re just trying to get through your morning routine and make it to those dreaded 8:00 classes on time. I thought nuns were supposed to be nice?
The school’s Mary Moody Northern Theatre is said to be home to the ghost of a student who hanged himself there. An RA a Premont Hall supposedly died after he slipped and fell in the showers — and somehow his body wasn’t found for a full week afterward! The RA ghost likes to turn faucets on and off and slam windows shut. There’s also a story about a ghost boy at Teresa Hall who asks people to play with him.
3. Moore's Bridge
According to historicbridges.org, construction on this bridge started in 1884. It now sits in the city’s Richard Moya Park, spanning over 150 feet over the very interestingly named Onion Creek. The website deadexplorer.com suggests it may be one of the most haunted places in Austin — so what’s going on here?
Most versions of the story say the bridge is haunted by a man who was hanged there by a mob. Some versions are vague about the legend, only saying he was in some sort of forbidden relationship. Others say he was a white man being targeted for having a black girlfriend. The story likely isn’t true — either version — but there are plenty of witness sightings of…strange things.
People have spotted a man dressed in old fashioned clothing walking across the bridge and a woman looking up at a swinging body, usually reported just after midnight. In another story from the 1980’s, a couple driving across the bridge saw a man walking on foot. The man waved at them as they passed; they stopped to look back at him, but he’d already vanished. If this really was a ghost, at least he was a polite one!
4. Bedicheck Middle School
This middle school allegedly harbors the ghost of a kid doing something I did quite a bit in my younger years — performing on stage. As the story goes, a student named Billy was performing in the school’s production of the classic Phantom of the Opera. Unfortunately, little Billy somehow got himself entangled in a rope, slipped, fell and accidentally hanged himself.
But Billy didn’t seem to leave the auditorium, even in death. He’s now said to push students off the stage…but he also has a nicer side, helping performers remember their lines if they flub them.
If all this sounds like something straight out of a horror movie, it kind of is. This ghostly legend is pretty similar to the2015 supernatural horror movie The Gallows, though I doubt this was intentional.
I don’t usually say this, but since there are two schools on this list, I feel compelled in this case. Please, please do not visit this school in an attempt to find ghosts or anything else creepy. Most of my audience is in their 30’s and 40’s, and an adult showing up at a random school unannounced would make you look like the creep.
5. Home Depot
Yeah, I know. A home improvement store is probably the last place you’d think of as a home to ghosts. And I found conflicting information online about just which Austin Home Depot was actually haunted. Some sources said it was one on US 290, others said it was actually one in Sunset Valley, about 10 miles west of Austin. So all these stories may be embellished, the true details could have been lost over time, everything could have been entirely made up. But let’s examine them anyway, because they’re kind of interesting.
The main story here concerns a man named Herbert. Herbert was a carpenter and loved home improvement. So, consequently, he spent a lot of time at his local Home Depot. When Herbert died, his daughter decided to have his cremated ashes scattered around the outdoor garden section of the store. I’m not sure if this is actually legal — but like I always say in these situations, I’m just the messenger.
Herbert’s ghost is frequently spotted in the store’s garden section, helping out customers or just wandering around, maybe enjoying the fresh air and being in his favorite place. Employees were said to call him “Fred” before the story about Herbert came out. There’s also reportedly an old cemetery nearby, so maybe there are ghosts there who decided to wander a little bit.
6. Oakwood Cemetery
Established in 1839, this cemetery — also called City Cemetery — is the final resting place of tons of influential people in the city. But at least a few Oakwood residents don’t like to lay still in their graves.
There are a few theories as to why this particular cemetery may be haunted. There are reportedly a lot of unmarked graves of people whose bodies were used in medical experiments. I couldn’t find much solid information about this, but even if they’re all just legends, these legends can spread like wildfire and give rise to ghost stories. I’ve also seen speculation that the hauntings are from ghosts who are angry about all the vandalism at the cemetery.
Oakwood does have some pretty typical paranormal activity: Ghost children, an old man who wanders around during the day but then disappears, orbs, feelings of unease and cold spots on otherwise hot days. And Texas in the summer can get really hot — to the point that any sort of cold not coming from an air conditioner or drink is bizarre.
But perhaps the most interesting story here is that of Eula Phillips. Eula was just 17 years old when she was killed in her home on Christmas Eve of 1885. According to FindAGrave, her husband was convicted of her murder but later retried and acquitted. She’s now thought to be the last victim of the Servant Girl Annihilator. Also known as the Austin Axe Murderer), this serial killer is thought to be responsible for the deaths of eight women in the area that year. All their murders remain unsolved.
Eula has been spotted wandering around the cemetery at night. Because her death was so violent and traumatizing, it’s thought she wasn’t able to process it and may not even realize that she’s dead.
7. Littlefield Home
This former home at 302 West 24th Street was originally built in 1893 for George Washington Littlefield, a regent of the University of Texas (who now owns the house). While living at the house, Littlefield’s wife, Alice, had to be sent to a sanitarium. Alice had reportedly grown paranoid and was afraid of being kidnapped or killed. Some reports suggest George locked his wife in the attic and that’s why she grew so paranoid; their descendants have denied this. George died in 1920 and Alice in 1935. Their former home, now used by the university for office space and event hosting, has quite a few ghost stories.
Unsurprisingly, almost all the stories of the Littlefield Home involve George and Alice. A portrait of George hanging in the house is said to move, with his left eye following visitors wherever they go. Visitors also report feeling judged when looking at a portrait of Alice, as well as phantom piano playing attributed to her. UT Austin students reportedly hold regular seances for Alice.
According to an article on backpacerverse.com, an Austin resident named John used to be skeptical of the paranormal — until his girlfriend visited the Littlefield Home and told him a hair raising story. While visiting the home, she went upstairs to use the bathroom and came back out to a photograph on the wall she could have sworn wasn’t there the first time she came through. According to her, the mannequin in the photograph turned its head toward her and smiled. She freaked out, of course, and no doubt never went to that bathroom — or the house — again.
Other happenings at the house include an employee whose granddaughter told her she “smelled like a ghost” after working a shift there. Staff members also claim to return to the house after school breaks, when it’s been empty for days or weeks, and see items moved from where they were last left. Is this the work of some teenage prankster…or maybe someone else who’s not of this world?
8. Metz Elementary
If Silent Hill taught us anything, it’s that elementary schools, commonly associated with carefree children, can actually be really creepy. And Metz Elementary has an unusual legend behind it.
Originally built in 1915, the school was demolished in 1990 due to safety issues. It was set to be rebuilt from the ground up, but the process didn’t go smoothly.
From early on, construction workers reported seeing some strange goings-on. Machines would be turned off while they were in operation. Children were heard giggling and even seen peeking out of the windows, even though the school was obviously closed. Workers watches would stop when they got onto the property, then start working just fine again after they left. Ladders would shake while workers stood on them and one man was reportedly crushed to death right after quitting his job in frustration over the goings-on. The activity got so bad, workers had to have the property blessed with holy water.
That blessing seemed to bring the hauntings to a halt, at least long enough to have the school rebuilt. But stories of the paranormal continue today. After their work was done, the demolition leader took a tree from the property and transported it to his daughters house, where children’s voices are said to be heard coming from it. A man named Danny Perez, who claims to have attended the school has a child, says he heard phantom noises and doors opening and shutting in the school bathrooms. Someone in the comments section of his video said they also went to the school and that the girl’s bathroom was haunted, but didn’t specify how.
The hauntings of Metz Elementary are kind of strange. Other than the construction worker, there’s no evidence of anyone dying on the property. But the story was interesting enough to get some brief TV attention; it was featured on an episode of Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories back in the 1990’s.
9. Texas Governor's Mansion
As the name suggests, this mansion has been the official home of Texas governors and their families since 1856. Like everything else in politics, its history involves plenty of drama.
The most famous story of the haunted governor’s mansion involves a 19-year-old boy who lived in a guest house on the property when Pendleton Murrah was governor, toward the end of the Civil War. One day, this boy (or man, I guess?) visited the mansion and fell in love with a young female relative of Murrah’s. Some versions of the story say it was his daughter, others say his niece or cousin. Either way, this young lady rejected him, and he shot himself in his room. Guests have reported paranormal activity in the room ever since, including: Cold spots, rattling doors, loud banging and a young man screaming in anguish with his face pressed against the window. The activity is said to increase on Sundays, the day of the week he died. The room was eventually sealed because of the complaints, but when it was later unsealed the hauntings resumed like nothing had ever happened.
And Pendleton Murrah, the relative of this teenager’s object of affection, is also said to roam his former house. Visitors report seeing him wandering the grounds and surrounding properties. Another former governor, Sam Houston, has also been spotted close to a bed he bought while he lived there. But he’s apparently a pretty shy ghost; if you try to talk to him, he disappears.
Another ghost is that of a woman who used to work at the mansion but was allegedly fired after getting pregnant by someone in the mansion. It’s not clear just who this mysterious baby daddy was; it could have been anyone from another staff member all the way up to the governor himself. Now the woman is spotted on the grounds, presumably still waiting for her mystery lover.
There is one more dark piece of the mansion’s history that doesn’t have much to do with ghosts but I still found interesting enough to share. In June of 2008, the mansion caught fire and was almost completely destroyed. Fortunately it was empty at the time due to renovations, but the fire, initially started by a molotov cocktail, was determined to be arson. The person responsible was never caught — and due to the statute of limitations on arson, they probably never will be.
10. Driskill Hotel
Sitting at 604 Brazos Street, this hotel was opened in 1886 by cattle baron Jesse Driskill. It’s been the site of multiple inaugural balls for various Texas governors, so clearly some very important people have stood within its walls. But if the stories are to be believed…so have some of the undead.
One ghost said to haunt the Driskill is Peter Lawless, who lived at the hotel for thirty years. He presumably died while living there, though I couldn’t find any solid information on that. Peter has been spotted by housekeeping staff and guests, who say he exits the elevator and then vanishes from sight. Some witnesses have claimed to see him leave the hotel and step in front of a bus, only to vanish again after that.
The ghost of hotel founder Jesse Driskill himself has also been spotted. People report seeing cigar smoke when there are no smokers around that’s attributed to him. Driskill’s ghost is especially fond of presenting himself to women, so maybe he’s still looking for love in the afterlife?
Perhaps the darkest story of the Driskill (albeit one that doesn’t really involve ghosts) is that of the suicide brides. This legend tells of two women who didn’t seem to know each other but reportedly killed themselves in the same bathtub in the hotel twenty years apart while both on their separate honeymoons. Another version says one of the brides wasn’t actually married yet, but went to stay at the Driskill to mend her broken heart after being dumped by her fiancé. I’m sure the $40,000 shopping spree she allegedly went on with her ex’s credit card helped ease the pain as well.
The suicide brides is a pretty well known legend at the Driskill, but the most well known ghost there is that of Samantha Houston. As the story goes, Samantha was the daughter of a senator who had to be dragged along to some fancy get-together at the hotel. But as she was playing with a ball near the stairs, she dropped the ball (literally) and fell down the stairs to her death while trying to retrieve it. Witnesses report the sounds of giggling on the stairs and a ball bouncing near them.
There are also rumors that Samantha is the girl in a painting on the hotel’s fifth floor. I couldn’t find much about this painting, but it’s reportedly a replica of one called Love Letters by Trevor Garland. The painting, which depicts a little girl holding flowers, is also supposed to be haunted, with people who see it reporting a feeling of being levitated or even seeing the girl’s expression change.
The legends say that Samantha was the daughter of senator Temple Lea Houston, which would make her the granddaughter of the aforementioned Sam Houston. Temple Lea Houston did have a child named Sam. But this Samwas actually a son named Samuel who was still alive when his father died. So I’m guessing the story of Samantha Houston is probably not true.
So those are all the haunted Austin locations I have for you today. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been to any of these places and/or experienced something paranormal.