Hotel Galvez: Room for the Dead
Located in Galveston, TX
With its history of war, natural disaster, visiting dignitaries and celebrities, suicide, haunted paintings – the Hotel Galvez is a true treasure trove for the ghost geek.
First things first – let me give you some backstory. The hotel and the City of Galveston are named for a Revolutionary War hero of Spain, the Viscount Bernardo De Galvez (1746-1786), who aided the American side in routing out the British. What’s ironic is that although Galveston and Hotel Galvez were named for this man, he never actually even visited the island or the hotel at all.
Construction started on the hotel around 1900 but wasn’t finished until 1911 and cost an estimated $1million to build. Hotel Galvez weathered the great hurricane of 1915 that slammed into Galveston, killing 275 people – and may actually have hosted one of the first recorded hurricane parties ever. Local legend claims some wealthy guests at the hotel at that time closed themselves in the building and partied until the storm cleared.
After surviving the hurricane, the hotel went on to host a speak-easy in the bar area during Prohibition. During World War II the entire hotel was closed to tourist traffic and became a base for the US Coast Guard. Several US Presidents visited over the decades, including Richard Nixon, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Other celebrities, including actor Jimmy Stewart and music superstar Frank Sinatra, came to the hotel to soak up luxury and the party atmosphere as well.
You may be asking right about now, “OK, great – but what about the haunty stuff?”
Well, here it comes ….
The staff sightings and stories are the most consistently reported paranormal occurrences according to my research on Hotel Galvez. Activity ranges all over the hotel, from the laundry and administrative areas to the guest rooms and grounds.
Hotel Galvez has 226 rooms, and the story of the Ghost Bride centers around room 501. The story goes that a beautiful young woman who was in love with a sailor would go up to room 501 and then look out at the sea from a hatch in the hotel roof, waiting for her lover’s return. According to the story, the young woman heard that a storm destroyed her lover’s ship and that all hands were lost at sea, never to return. Devastated and heartbroken, she hanged herself in the west turret of the hotel. In an almost Shakespearean surprise twist, her lover DID return from his travels only to find his beloved dead by her own hand. Staff in the hotel believe her spirit is still there, mourning her lost chance at true love. The hotel employees state that they see orbs of light and other phenomena in the hotel around the spaces associated with the story.
Other accounts of paranormal goings-on include a little girl seen with a ball on lower levels of the hotel and the presence of a man in part of the hotel laundry. There are further reports of unexplained happenings like candles blowing out in the absence of drafts or wind, dishes breaking without cause, items moving around the rooms, sounds like breathing and laughter near the Music Hall, and children’s laughter near another bathroom.
People living at the Hotel Galvez for extended stays also report a ghostly female figure in a maid’s uniform, and the apparition of a man walking into a closed-door, only to disappear….
The last bit of paranormal information I found that really gave me that deliciously creepy feeling is the hotel’s somewhat infamous haunted painting.
The Hotel Galvez boasts a painting of its namesake, the Viscount Bernardo de Galvez, who died in 1786. In the painting, the military leader’s eyes are said to follow guests as they walk by. People standing close to the painting report feeling chills or general uneasiness. But creepiest of all? When people attempt to photograph the painting of the Viscount, their photographs turn out distorted, with skeletal images emerging instead of the image of Galvez himself. According to one source I read, the only photographs of the painting that have shown a clear image of the Viscount have been the ones in which the photographer first asked for permission to take a picture of the portrait.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the Hotel Galvez definitely deserves its standing as one of Texas’ most haunted locations. The research I did for this blog makes me eager to visit, either as a guest of the hotel or on one of their walking ghost tours. The articles for the actual hotel and spa state that the ghost tours are free for guests staying at the hotel and can be purchased for around $10-$15 for folks coming in just for the tour.
What do you think? Are you game to check into Hotel Galvez?
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