The Alamo, Suicide Oak, San Fernando Cathedral — San Antonio is known for what many believe are haunted places.
By Taylor Pettaway |
San Antonio is known to be one of the most haunted cities in Texas, thanks in part to a bloody battle at the Alamo, untimely deaths and more. There are many haunted spots with plenty of stories to send shivers down your spine.
The Alamo: 300 Alamo Plaza
The Alamo is said to be the most haunted spot in San Antonio, but what else can be expected from a historic landmark with a mass grave underneath? San Antonio’s most iconic spot is said to still hold the spirits of the men violently killed while trying to defend the Alamo. More than 180 Texans died
Guests have reported hearing moans inside the building and even nearby hotels are said to have the spirits walking around and emerging from walls. One story says that after Santa Anna surrendered to Gen. Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, orders were sneaked back to the small Mexican force in San Antonio to destroy the Alamo. The men sent to level the building returned to their commander unsuccessful, reporting ghosts with swords of fire guarding the shrine.
The Lambermont: 950 East Grayson Street
The Terrell Castle, now known as the Lambermont, is the site of some tragic deaths and creepy haunts. The first victim was Edwin Holland Terrell, who commissioned the castle in the early 1900s. Suffering from the effects of syphilis, Terrell decided to end it all and shoot himself in the head, however he missed and didn’t die until 10 days later.
During World War II, the castle was split into apartments for military families and one day a soldier came home to find his wife in bed with another man. He shot the lover and pushed his wife off the third-story stairwell to her death.
To this day, people report seeing objects move, hearing heavy footsteps in the hall, children playing and odd smells permeating the air.
The Ghost Tracks: Villamain and Shane roads
In order to see the spirits that haunt this area, there is a whole ritual individuals have to follow. Legend says that if you park your car near the railroad tracks, pour baby powder over it and put it in neutral then a gang of ghost children will come to push your vehicle up and over the tracks. After the vehicle makes it over the tracks, people say they find fingerprints left in the baby powder.
The legend says the children come from a fatal school bus crash on those tracks that occurred in the early 20th century. A bus carrying kids stalled on the tracks and they sat there waiting for a train to come along, which killed them all.
A nun who was driving the bus miraculously survived after she was ejected through the windshield. But later, ridden with grief, tried to park her car on the tracks to kill herself. But just as the train was about to hit the car, someone — or something — pushed the car out of the way in time. Now the children come and save anyone who is stalled on the tracks.
Alamo Street Theater: 1150 S. Alamo St.
Built in 1912, now smack dab in the middle of Southtown, the building was originally the Alamo Methodist Church before it was converted by a couple to the Alamo Street Theater in 1976. It has since closed and reopened in 2016 as a hot dog restaurant. This was the first building in San Antonio to receive the South Texas Ghost Hunters Alliance “Officially Haunted” award.
The stories say several ghosts inhabit the space, including an actress named Miss Margaret and her seamstress Henrietta, who sometimes appears as a puff of smoke.
A boy named Little Eddie, who’s said to have died of polio at age 12, is also reported to haunt the building. Eddie’s said to be a bit more mischievous. He enjoys levitating or moving objects and shoving people from behind. There is also a former parishioner named Alvin who appears where the church services used to be held.
Suicide Oak: Corner of Patterson Avenue and Torcido Drive in Alamo Heights
Historians say Suicide Oak was the go-to spot for frontier justice in the early 1900s and was such a staple in the community, that when a windstorm blew it down in 1914, they had a one-page obituary for it in the San Antonio Light newspaper.
Legends say a girl hanged herself from the tree after a fight ended her relationship with a motorman on the Alamo Heights streetcar line. He found her the next day when he came into work and a week later killed himself in the same spot. The stories say that her ghost wanders the area, inciting violence and trying to convince weak minds to take their life.
Woman Hollering Creek: between San Antonio and Seguin on Interstate 10, near Exit 591 (seen here is water flowing over FM 1518)
There are several stories about the screaming ghost that haunts this area. One is the legend of La Llorona, the ghost who weeps for her lost children, who were either drowned or killed and thrown into a river.
Other stories say a pioneer woman drowned her children to “save” them after her husband was killed by bandits or Native Americans. When the attackers find her, she frightens them off with her maddened screaming. In other versions, she is screaming for help and sobbing over the loss of her family.
In a less tragic version, the woman is simply hollering to her family to let them know dinner is ready.
Freeman Coliseum: 3201 East Houston Street
The Coliseum is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in San Antonio. Built in 1947, it was originally called the Bexar County Coliseum, but later renamed the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum for the brothers who promoted its construction. Today, it’s a sports and concert venue, known for hosting the San Antonio Stockshow and Rodeo.
A number of stories have emerged from the venue’s history, including bloody ghost babies found on the floor from satanic rituals, the ghost of a woman who was trampled to death at a bull-riding event and even cackling laughter coming from a clown who died at the circus.
One of the most famous stories however is the legend that Teddy Roosevelt trained his Rough Riders in the coliseum. Individuals have reported seeing ghostly figures (like the one photographed above) believed to be some of the Rough Riders who still roam the halls.
Menger Hotel: 204 Alamo Plaza
The Menger Hotel once known as “Finest Hotel West of the Mississippi” sits next to the Alamo and is considered one of the most haunted hotels in Texas. Not only is it near where the Battle at the Alamo took place, but during the Civil War it was converted into a hospital for the sick and wounded. It has also seen devastating fires, murders, suicides and even housed Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders recruitment.
Employees and guests have reported dozens of ghost sightings at the hotel, some experts say there are as many as 45 ghosts in the hotel. Some say Roosevelt’s ghost still hangs out at the bar.
Among the better known spirits are Sallie White, an 1870s chambermaid who was shot by her husband because he believed she was cheating on him. Employees have seen a Black woman believed to be Sallie “in a uniform with an apron, a bandana wrapped around her hair and with her arms stretched out and full of fresh towels.”
Also said to haunt the hotel is Capt. Richard King, founder of the famed King Ranch, who died at the Menger in the room now known as the King Suite. A ghost dressed in a bolo tie and black hat, said to be King, has been spotted several times. The elevator in the original building is said to regularly stop on the third floor, where the King Suite is located, without being punched.
The Emily Morgan Hotel: 705 E. Houston St.
Known as the third most haunted hotel in the world, the Emily Morgan is another hotel that sits adjacent to the Alamo. Before it became a hotel in 1994, the building was a Medical Arts building in the early 1900s, with the basement housing a morgue.
The most haunted areas are considered to be the basement seventh, ninth and 14th floors (which is actually the 13th floor but was changed to avoid the bad luck associated with the number 13). The 14th floor used to hold the psychiatric ward, surgery level, waiting area and morgue.
Guests have reported feeling cooling sensations, the lingering heavy scent of medicine and some have even said they have opened the doors to the hallways to find a scene from a hospital.
People have also said they have had doors open and close on their own, lights start flickering and spirits of nurses appear. The elevator is also known to have a mind of it’s own — skipping guest’s floors, locking them in the elevator and even taking them into the basement.
Victoria’s Black Swan Inn: 1006 Holrook Road
The building, named for William Shakespeare’s favorite pub, has a reputation for being haunted and has become a favorite destination for ghost hunters across the state. The property was the site of the 1842 Battle of Salado Creek between the Mexican army and Texans, and is home to Fort Sam Houston’s former hanging tree.
The site was also a Native American encampment, and visitors have reported seeing their spirits in the woods. A couple that once lived at the inn, Jolene Woods and S.A. lawyer Park Street, both died untimely deaths; Jolene died of cancer at a young age and Park later committed suicide. Guests say they have seen Jolene walking to the gazebo in the front yard before she disappears.
A man, believed to be Jolene’s husband, has been spotted stalking angrily all over the house looking for his dead wife.
Also among the spirits said to haunt the inn is a girl named Sarah, who will communicate with a Ouija board. People have reported notable dips in temperature, unexplainable noises and lights that are often turned off and on at random.
Gillespie Mansion (Over time, folklore gave the structure the name of the “midget mansion”): Interstate 10 and Callaghan Road
Where now there is a busy highway used to stand the site of an unusual mansion. The home was built in the 1920s and was later inhabited by a dwarf couple and their two average-sized children, who were harassed by the community.
There are several versions as to what enraged the father, but one night he was so upset, he killed his family, shoving their bodies in an upstairs closet, and then committed suicide.
Other stories say that the family altered the house to fit their height needs and one night a servant, who felt so tortured working in the tiny conditions, killed the entire family.
Homeowners have said they heard moaning and crying coming from the second floor closet as well as constant sounds of scratching, as though someone or something was trying to escape from the closet. Even in some cases, people actually discovered fresh scratch marks on the walls.
In another incident, a group of teenagers who killed several other teens in the house blamed the murders on the father possessing them to kill.
Huebner-Onion Homestead: 6613 Bandera Road
Legend says, in the 1800s, Joseph Huebner, who liked his liquor, accidentally drank kerosene instead of whiskey. When neighbors found him collapsed, they couldn’t decide if he was dead or just drunk. They took a vote, decided he was dead and buried him.
Later, when Judge John F. Onion and his wife, Harriet, purchased the house in 1930, there already were tales of noises coming from the house that supposedly drove horses of passersby into a frenzy. Some believe Huebner haunts the property because he wasn’t dead when they buried him.
Homeowners have said they have heard footsteps on the stairs, machinery would randomly turn on and horse hooves can still be heard clomping in the yard.
St. Anthony Hotel: 300 E. Travis St.
Built in 1909, the St. Anthony Hotel was designed for society’s elite, and at one point had one of the most exclusive nigh clubs in the country. The hotel is rich in history, with notable guests like Fred Astaire, George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It is said to be incredibly haunted, though there is a lot of speculation on just who is doing the haunting. Many of the ghosts still remain unidentified, though they continue to haunt guests and staff.
One of the most famous is the Lady in Red, a woman in a red-sheathed dress seen roaming the halls and into the restroom. Women standing at the sinks washing their hands, say the lady in red struts through the doors with heels clicking against the marble before entering the stall and vanishing.
The 10th floor is supposed to be the most haunted, where employees say they have heard footsteps following them or that there is a man who rides the elevator until the 10th floor and then disappears.
San Antonio State Hospital: 6711 S New Braunfels Avenue
The hospital, which is still up and running, was first built as the Southwestern Insane Asylum in 1892 to house the mentally ill. Historical accounts from patients reported widespread abuse and mysterious deaths plagued the early years of the hospital
People say the ghosts of former patients still roam the campus, warning current patients so they don’t meet the same grisley end. Reports also say that staff members acknowledge that spiritual happens go on, but refuse to describe the encounters.
San Antonio Express-News: 301 Avenue E
Yes, even the Express-News building is a place of haunts. Just blocks from the Alamo and it’s bloody history, the newspaper moved into the building in 1929 — the day of the stock market crash (those are some bad omens).
Not much is known about why spirits haunt the building, but employees have reported seeing the ghosts of a man in the back stairs of the third floor near the freight elevator and a sobbing, tall blonde woman wearing a pink dress in the third-floor women’s restroom. They have also said a spirit causes the eighth floor toilets to flush on their own, and a gentleman ghost, donning an old-fashioned suit, has been spotted roaming the pressroom.
San Fernando Cathedral: 115 Main Plaza
The San Fernando Cathedral, built in 1750, is known as the oldest church in Texas with a rich history. But if you’re visiting at night, many have reported haunted happenings at the cathedral.
Some say a white stallion can be seen galloping in front of the church, others have said they have seen bright orbs or shadowy figures caught in photos. Legend has it, there is also the figure of a man dressed in monk-like robes who can be seen near the back of the cathedral.
Mass and other services are still held at the San Fernando Cathedral.