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.
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…
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
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.
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…
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.
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. 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.
The 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…
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
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.