For families who prefer their hometowns sprinkled with some authentic, spine-tingling, hauntings, the Bayou City does not disappoint.
By Marye Audet
Every city has its own spooky spots, and Houston is no different. Sometimes there’s a story behind the unusual activities, and sometimes no one knows why an entity or two take up residence in a certain place. Some residents think it’s all a lot of talk, while others will sit across the table from you with big eyes and relate their eerie experience until the hair on the back of your neck stands on end.
Whether you are a believer or just enjoy a really good ghost story, we’re sure you’ll find something in the following tales to pique your interest. If your kids are older, and they gravitate toward the mysterious, taking them on a driving tour of some of Houston’s haunted areas could be the perfect preamble to a bone-chilling Halloween.
Many of these spots are privately owned. Be sure not to inconvenience residents, guests or staff if you decide to go make the acquaintance of a resident ghost. Bring a friend and a flashlight if you are going to go traipsing around graveyards in the dead of night. In other words, use common sense to ensure you are safe.
John F. Kennedy slept in the Rice Hotel the night before he was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963. Subsequent guests and staff have reported a presence in the room, as well as orbs of light, rattling doors and cold spots. Before the ballroom was turned into the Rice Lofts, dancers would appear to dance around the room. Now that there’s no more ballroom, these spirits have taken to the rooftop to dance the night away.
The restaurant Sambuca is in this building and open to the public for any brave Houstonians wishing to get a glimpse of this haunted venue!
901 Commerce St.
(Temporarily closed due to Hurricane Harvey damage)
Built around 1900, Spaghetti Warehouse is the location of a haunted elevator shaft. Strange things started happening on this spot after a young man fell to his death down an open elevator shaft. Since then people are warned not to walk by the elevator shaft at night. It’s said that two men who ignored the warning were found dead next to the shaft.
The young man’s wife was traumatized by the loss of her husband and died a year or so later. The couple is said to roam the restaurant pulling people’s hair or tapping them on the shoulders. Furniture has been rearranged, dishes and silverware have been scattered, and many of the employees have had strange experiences. Some even refuse to go upstairs in the building.
Elder Street Artists’ Lofts
1101 Elder St
Elder Street Artists’ Lofts are located in what was once the Jefferson Davis Hospital and the site of a graveyard. It’s no surprise that strange things happen here – both murders and suicides have occurred here.
A little girl has been seen and heard weeping in the treatment room or wailing as she stares out the window. Cold, clammy air wafts about in deserted rooms, and people have reported a feeling of being watched.
A private company bought the building, despite rumors of its haunted past and the grisly events that have taken place there. The new owners invested millions of dollars restoring the building to create an affordable facility where artists could live and work. Despite the new look, the hauntings persist. Residents report voices, shadows, and apparitions – especially in units located in the area that used to be the morgue.
The building that now holds a modern eatery was built more than 75 years ago as a garage and car wash. No one really knows what happened here to encourage paranormal entities to take up residence, but a crying baby is often heard when no baby is in the place. Furniture moves from one place to another on its own, seemingly pushed by ghostly hands. Sitting there you may feel a strong tap on the shoulder, yet when you turn around no one is there. Workers prefer to have another person with them when working in this building – one that’s alive!
The zoo might seem like a strange place for a haunting, but workers in the zoo’s kitchen and warehouse area will tell you that it’s true. And, it just so happens that a zookeeper was shot to death in the very spot where the building now stands.
In 1941 the city’s first zoo director, Hans Nagle, had a confrontation with a police officer in the park. This altercation wasn’t new–it’s reported that Nagle had ongoing disputes with HPD officers–but on this particular day he resisted arrest. As he did so, he stepped back and reached for his side arm. Before he could remove the weapon from his holster, the police officer emptied his own service revolver into Nagle’s body.
He was dead at the scene.
Most of the unexplained activity happens in the building in the early morning hours. Hearing the sounds of pots and pans clanging, the feeling someone is watching, and being lightly touched on the shoulder are most common. Occasionally someone will see a man that quickly vanishes.
No one can say for certain that it is Hans Nagle, but no one can say that it isn’t, either.
If you’re really serious about going toe to toe with the “Other Side,” consider signing on to one of the tours offered by Houston Historical Tours. They offer nine different tours and even give you the chance to stay overnight in haunted houses and hotels. You’ll see the spookiest sites in Houston and get the background and legends of each one.
Be sure to put your walking shoes on. Although the tours are mostly driving, you may find yourself exploring abandoned cemeteries, climbing stairs, and walking through downtown. The tours are usually right around three hours long.
Numerous paranormal investigators have visited this small cemetery, which is made up of about 300 graves. People have reported being pushed, hit, hearing voices, and feeling a “presence.” There have been photographs of glowing, orange eyes, as well.
Langham Creek Bridge/ Patterson Road
The site of an unusual number of car accidents, Patterson Road is another Houston haunted area. People who stop their cars in the middle of the Patterson bridge nearest to Eldridge have heard someone tapping their cars.
Local residents say that it’s the ghosts of Civil War soldiers marching in formation across the bridge. If you turn your lights off, and are very lucky, you may see a ghostly figure at the other end of the bridge.
Bowden Road and Martha Chapel Cemetery
While not in Houston, Bowden Road and Martha Chapel Cemetery in Huntsville may be the most bone chilling spot in Texas. Local residents warn those who are adventurous enough to brave the lonely road leading to the cemetery to turn back.
Witnesses report a variety of mysterious activities. Large handprints have appeared on cars and trucks, cars have been “grabbed,” and red lights glow. Some people have reported seeing ritual ceremonies and a faceless, threatening creature has appeared to some people. One of the most common sightings is a young child with glowing eyes riding a tricycle down the lonely road.
If you decide to go exploring, be careful not to rouse the spirits there. Some visitors have had ghostly residents of the area follow them home.