Miss Hattie's Bordello Museum | Haunted?
Located In San Angelo, TX
Hello again, my little ghoulies, ghosties, and long-leggity beasties! Hope you are all doing well wherever you are.
On the slab today is a post-mortem on Miss Hattie’s Bordello located in downtown San Angelo, TX. If you caught any of my other posts about places in San Angelo, you’ll know that pretty much the entire area of downtown San Angelo is said to be haunted. As we keep adding haunted locations from San Angelo to this blog, I feel like that claim is well-substantiated.
ANYWAY. Gown up, glove up, as this one is a little bit messy….
So there’s a Miss Hattie’s museum that you can visit, it is decorated entirely in the period in which it operated – from the early 1900s until about 1950, when the Texas Rangers shut it down. It’s rumored that much of the furniture and ALL of the bed frames are original to the building. How ‘bout that?
Now, the museum’s pet story about the origin of Miss Hattie’s Bordello goes a little something like this: a young couple married – the Hattons – and bought the building around 1902. Mr. Hatton had a saloon in the lower part of the building, and they would entertain guests in the upstairs living quarters. However, the tale tells of marital discord developing and of the Hattons divorcing very early in their marriage. The story is that Mr. Hatton would take the downstairs of the building, as it was his business, and Mrs. Hatton would live upstairs. Being that she was now divorced and had no income, and employment opportunities for women were scarce in those days, she turned to prostitution and became a madam of her own bordello. And that’s how Miss Hattie’s came to be.
Well, that’s a quaint little story, for sure – something along the lines of that Dolly Parton movie, you might remember – “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” – right? I thought so when I first read it, and as I got into the research on the location a little further, I got quite a surprise.
According to one source, there’s a big problem with Miss Hattie’s Bordello – there never was a Miss Hattie and the dates are all wrong.
Wait – hold up…
What the what?
I had to mentally shake my head and refocus.
Here’s the skinny on Miss Hattie - the TRUTH this time:
Yes, the Hattons bought the property. However, that wasn’t until at least 1910, as the building didn’t exist until around that time according to records kept by the city and insurance company maps of the area from that time period. It was not, as the museum story goes, built in 1896, turned bordello in 1902.
Another falsehood: the Hattons didn’t stay in the building after their divorce. They left the area and divorced in Del Rio, Tx, and it’s reported that Mrs. Hatton spent some time there in a mental hospital. The two never returned to San Angelo after they left it.
So … there IS no Miss Hattie.
Ain’t that a hoot?
You might be asking, as I did, how you have a Miss Hattie’s Bordello if there’s no Miss Hattie?
Well, there absolutely could have been a bordello in the location in the early part of the 1900s – it just wasn’t Miss Hattie’s Bordello. There was a hotel on the property in question, for a while anyway. Records confirm that there was an operating brothel at the address in the 1930s; it seems that certain areas of downtown San Angelo became very seedy, indeed around WWII and were forced to clean up. That’s what brought the Texas Rangers in. So they did, in fact, close down the brothel at the location of Miss Hattie’s, but again – it wasn’t Miss Hattie’s Bordello.
There was a lady involved with the brothel whose last name was Honey, so Miss Honey’s could have been a thing.
Where does that leave us? Well, we have a picturesque story with almost no historical truth to it. The writer of the erroneous (but cool, let’s be honest) Miss Hattie story wrote it with documents that hadn’t been conserved or organized very well in the archives, and she embellished them in order to curry tourist favor. However, we do have the actual location, which IS bona fide historical and upon further research, SATURATED with paranormal activity.
The current location that we know of as Miss Hattie’s also houses Legend Jewelers, and Mark Priest owns both the Miss Hattie’s museum and the jewelry store. He and his associates have much to say on the question of whether the property is active.
The articles I read on the reported activity at the location listed wispy apparitions appearing in mirrors, people being touched, shadows, ghosts having drinks at the restaurant nearby, and alarms going off for no reason. Other paranormal claims include objects moving on their own – such as pots and pans dropping off their hooks in the kitchen, jewels in the jewelry shop going missing only to reappear the next day, tourists catching extra “people” in their photographs, whispers, and cold spots/cold draughts.
One article even talked about an encounter with a previous caretaker of the property … who had been dead for about 100 years!!
Interestingly, the staff of both the museum and the jewelry store report that they feel the activity is friendly, not threatening, which is a relief – and somewhat surprising for a location that served as a house of prostitution, to be frank. I mean, let’s be honest – some violence probably occurred there between workers and patrons, at minimum.
So regardless of whether there was or wasn’t a Miss Hattie, the location appears to still be hosting quite the party. The other thing that really caught my attention about Miss Hattie’s is that the building - and others in the San Angelo downtown area – seem to be connected by a subterranean network of tunnels. The articles I found state that mostly these tunnels were used for storage, like horses, so that the animals and goods wouldn’t be stolen from wanderers. Other rumors about the tunnels include bank officials sneaking off to the hotel for romantic trysts, or off to the bordello for a good time – who knows? The thing is, the tunnels are still there. The businesses that have the access points have mostly closed them off, but don’t you wonder what might still be going on down there in the dark?
But that is an adventure and discussion for another time.
For now, I want to let you know that Miss Hattie’s Bordello/Museum offers regular tours if you’re interested – from 2 pm-4 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 1 pm-4 pm on Friday and Saturday.
What do you think? Are you ready to meet the working girls of Miss Hattie’s?
Until next time, ghost fans…..
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