10 Haunted Spots in Austin with Dark Histories

Texas’s magnificent state capital has a rich and long history filled with intrigue and adventure. Austin has definitely seen its share of successes and struggles over the past centuries. While most of the old stories in Austin have happy endings, there are a few tragic tales and sordid speculations that stem from a much more sinister past. Today, these historic places stand proud as the legendary landmarks that add to Austin’s multifaceted and diverse culture. But within their walls hide the troubled ghosts and unsettled souls of a time long forgotten. So from pesky poltergeists to arcane apparitions, here are some spooky haunted spots around Austin that have seriously dark histories.

The DriskillThe Driskill

Built in 1886 by Colonel Jesse Driskill, the iconic Driskill is one of Austin’s oldest and most beautiful hotels. This historic hotel is known for hosting some of the most renowned visitors in their five star accommodations, and The Driskill Bar has been featured in dozens of lists including Most Beautiful Bars in Austin. But few people know about The Driskill’s dark history and some of its unfortunate guests. Some guests and employees claim that they’ve seen Jesse Driskill himself roaming the halls, or that they’ve smelled his signature cigar smoke mysteriously lingering in the air. While other witnesses have seen the ghost of two brides all in white in room 525, where evidently they committed suicide over 100 years ago. If you’re brave enough you can rent the room for a night and see for yourself…

Clay Pit Bar Clay Pit

Located in the heart of downtown Austin, Clay Pit is a popular fusion dinner spot that serves Indian and Mediterranean style dishes out of an old old two-story building. But, after hours, Clay Pit turns into a hotspot of paranormal activity that spooks the employees nightly. The building that is now Clay Pit was originally built in 1883 as a trading post by a group of settlers. In 1873, O.R Bertram took over the property, moved his family upstairs and opened the bottom floor as Bertram’s General Store. Sadly, Bertram’s five year old son died from typhoid fever while quarantined in his bedroom upstairs, and it’s believed that his tiny ghost still hangs around today, often playing harmless pranks on the employees at the restaurant. 

Texas State Capitol
Photo by Yannis Marigo
Texas State Capitol

Austin’s majestic state capitol has housed some of the greatest visionaries and policy makers in Texas history. This gorgeous building, which is part of Austin’s signature city skyline, is known for its classic architecture and remarkable backstory. While the Capitol is still a working government building that offers plenty of tours and visits to the public, it is rumored that the living aren’t the only ones occupying its floors. Several visitors have seen the ghost of former Governer Edmund Jackson Davis, who was in office between 1870 and 1874, as well as an ephemeral woman in red floating around in a third  floor secret stairwell – supposedly waiting for her lover. But the Capitol is also said to be haunted by the ghost of Robert Marshall Love, who was tragically killed right as his desk and still lingers around the building.

Seider Oaks Memorial
Photo courtesy of waymarking.com
Shoal Creek Indian Massacre Site

Many people visit historic Shoal Creek to enjoy the beautiful views, nosh at all the tasty restaurants and window shop along the water. But few people remember the horrific event that made Shoal Creek the hallowed site that is today…in 1839, Gideon White built himself a log-cabin near Native American occupied Shoal Creek, against the advice of his friends and neighbors. He lived peacefully by the springs for 3 years until, one night, he was brutally attacked and murdered in his home by a group of ruthless Indians. His body, along with dozens of other nameless people who died of yellow fever and cholera, are buried at this site. And because of the insane amount of paranormal activity that goes on there, guests are not allowed to visit the Shoal Creek Indian Massacre Site after 10PM – for their own safety…

The TavernThe Tavern 

Located near historic Shoal Creek, The Tavern is a classic dive bar and saloon that specializes in craft cocktails, great beers and hopping happy hours. This trendy tavern was allegedly also once a brothel where cowboys could go to get their kicks. You can only imagine what kinds of things went on within these four walls during that time. As the story goes, a prostitute named Emily and her daughter were murdered in the 1940’s by a group of rowdy soldiers. And it’s said that Emily’s ghost still haunts the Tavern, pinching and poking patrons and wandering listlessly around the bar. Some people even report hearing footsteps and a phantom pool game being played when nobody else is around. 

Texas Governer’s Mansion
Photo by Carol Highsmith
The Governer’s Mansion

One of downtown Austin’s beautiful landmarks, the Texas Governer’s Mansion is a stately abode that adds to the rich history of Austin. While the home is now primarily a museum where visitors can tour the various artifacts and mementos from a different time, the Governer’s mansion was once home to the venerable Governer Pendleton Murrah, whose served in office during the American Civil War from 1863-1865. Stories say that at one time Governer Murrah hosted a young man in his guest room who was courting Murrah’s niece. But when the suitor was bitterly rejected, he was unable to recover from his unrequited love and shot himself right there in the mansion’s guest room. When reports of strange noises started surfacing, the owners decided to close off the guest bedroom. But today, the entire mansion – and all its rooms – are reopened  and the strange sounds continue.

St. Edward’s UniversitySt. Edwards University 

The prestigious St. Edward’s University is full of esteemed intellects, breathtaking architecture and inspirational success stories. But these historic halls have also seen some serious tragedies and are said to be teeming with other-worldly activity in the form of floating apparitions, disembodied voices and unexplained sounds. Within the Mary Moody Theatre, a troubled young man hanged himself and supposedly never left the building. People have reported hearing the sound of a swinging noose and even seeing his horrifying body hanging in the theatre. A spirit nun has been seen pestering students in Doyle Hall. And in Premont Hall, a student slipped in the shower and died but still likes to make his presence known by slamming windows and turning on faucets. 

Omni HotelThe Omni Austin

One of Austin’s most luxurious and elegant hotels, the Omni has had visits from high flyers, celebrities and trendy visitors from all around. While most of the guests at the Omni have perfectly normal hotel experiences here, others have the rare pleasure of encountering the ghost of Jack: a guest of the hotel who reportedly killed himself by jumping off the balcony of his hotel room. Night staff and employees of the hotel say they have heard noises coming from the room that Jack occupied – even when no one is staying in it. And some guests have also claimed to hear noises come from the nearby room. What’s even creepier is that, since Jack didn’t pay his bill before he “checked out”,  his name is allegedly still in the hotel’s computer logs…

Littlefield HouseLittlefield House

One of Austin’s more obscure haunted spots, the Littlefield House is a stunning old Victorian style house that is now owned by the Univerity of Texas. But over 100 years ago, the Littlefield house was owned and occupied by Major George Washington Littlefield and his wife, who reportedly suffered from mental illness. Whether it was agoraphobia or skizophrenia, Alice Littlefield spend her entire life inside the house, where she eventually died. Today, the Littlefield House is used by UT as an events center, but visitors claim that they have seen Alice herself looming inside house. And some people have even heard her dolefully playing the piano in one of the rooms.   

Walter Tips House
Photo by Keith Peterson
Walter Tips House 

Located just down the street from the Texas State Capitol, the Walter Tips House is a historic building in downtown Austin that is now home to a local bank. The house was  originally built in 1876, then was moved over a century later to its current location. Though the home’s previous owners – Walter Tips and later Theo P. Meyer – were both successful businessmen who led seemingly happy lives, for some reason they left a lingering dark energy in the house that can be felt by many of it’s visitors. Maybe the move of the building disturbed the resting souls inside, or even angered them into retaliating. Whatever the case, guests of the Walter Tips house feel extremely unwelcome and ill at ease the moment they step on the property. 

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4 thoughts on “10 Haunted Spots in Austin with Dark Histories

  1. I lived in and around Austin for many years. I may have heard about some of these hauntings, indeed I have definitely heard of the buildings, but I don’t think I ever paid attention to them.
    However, I did have a strange experience once, unrelated to any of the locals listed:
    While in 7th grade, sometime in the mid-seventies, I had to do a school project regarding Historic Landsites. My Dad took me to the Texas State Cemetery and we took a picture of me standing in front of the statue for Stephen F. Austin. Though a sunny day, with the noontime sun above, I stood in complete light while the statue directly behind me remained in shadow. At the time, there were no trees tall enough to account for the shadow.
    Not even my Dad could explain it.

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    1. That’s spooky! Actually, the Texas State Cemetery is one of the most notoriously haunted places in Austin! Many people have had unexplained things happen to them here. How freaky that you’re one of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. From the Austin Club: Ghost Stories
    We all know there’s no such thing as ghosts, right? Tell that to some of the
    members and club’s staff; e specially when they close up at night.
    A building 120 years old is bound to have some unexplained creaks and groans.
    After all, thousands of members, guests and employees have passed through these doors since
    The Austin Club moved here in 1980. And many thousands before that, since the Millett Opera
    House was built in 1878. Lily Langtry, William Jennings Bryan, Edwin Booth, John Phillip Sousa
    are just some who entertained turn -of-the -century Texans. More contemporary stars have included Heather Locklear, Peter Strauss, and Farrah Fawcett.
    But we digress. This Halloween story is about The Third Floor Ghost, affectionately dubbed
    “Priscilla.” No documentation has been found, but legend has it that she was a heartbroken actress (some say opera singer) who threw herself to her death from the rafters of the opera house over a hundred years ago. Several employees and members have seen, or felt, her. As the staff closes up at night, Priscilla rides the elevators. No one else is in the building. Mischievous, she likes to pull all of the curtains out of the tie-
    backs. One longtime employee reports that when exiting the elevator to
    the third floor, a powerful force flipped the plate he was carrying onto the carpet. The room was
    ice -cold, and something or someone pushed past him and spun him around.
    What does the ghost look like? The few who have seen her describe a flowing cream colored o
    r black gown, accented by a huge gold medallion around her neck. A distraught senator
    once ran downstairs after hosting a fundraiser on the third floor. “I saw her! I saw the ghost!” he swore. He had not been drinking.
    Are ghosts part of the rich heritage of The Austin Club and Millett Opera House, or is this all just coincidence?

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  3. The stories of the brides at the Driskill are notoriously wrong, but there are so many urban myths out there. It’s one of the reasons why I spent a year researching and writing my book, “True Haunted Tales of the Driskill Hotel.” They did not both die in the same room. One was in the Yellow Rose Suite (Rm 543) in the 1950’s, and the other was Rm 429 in 1991. Although, when she did the deed, the room number was 427. I’ve seen the police report. Even we at Austin Ghost Tours were telling that poor girl’s story wrong for ten years until the ghost found a way to get her true story to us. It was pretty amazing. And the whole business about Rm 525 was that it was rumored to have been Col. Lawless’ room when he lived at the hotel for 31 years. Truth is, the room numbers have been changed around so often with different owners and renovations, there is no way to be absolutely certain which room was his or if it still exists. But his ghost is certainly seen a lot on the 5th floor!

    Liked by 1 person

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