The Driskill Hotel
One of the most
hotels in the state of Texas, and long a gathering place for the
state's political players, it is said to be haunted by at least half a
dozen ghosts, including the spirit of a young girl heard bouncing a
ball down the main stairs; the ghost of founder Jesse Driskill himself;
and a "suicide bride" who killed herself in room 427 in 1989.
The hotel enjoyed a
on December 20, 1886, and was featured in a special edition of the
Austin Daily Statesman. In January 1887, Governor Sul Ross held his
inaugural ball in its ballroom, beginning a tradition for every Texas
have the clientele to match the splendor of his four-star hotel. At a
time when other hotels were 50 cents to one dollar per night, Driskill
charged $2.50 to $5.00 (including meals), an exorbitant sum at what was
then still relatively a Wild West town. Following the loss of a great
fortune in cattle drives, Driskill was forced to close the hotel in May
1887, less than a year after it opened. According to legend, he lost
the entire hotel in a game of poker to his brother-in-law, Jim "Doc"
Day, who became its second owner.
The hotel changed
times through the turn of the century, and went through boom and bust
cycles along with the city of Austin. The original building was
expanded in 1929 with a thirteen-story tower.
The Driskill was
demolition in 1969, and most of its furnishings sold, but was saved
from the wrecking ball at almost the last minute when a non-profit
organization called the Driskill Hotel Corporation raised $500,000. The
hotel re-opened in 1971, under management of the Braniff Airways
corporation and has remained successful since.
Driskill has become a centerpiece for Austin's high society, and
especially in its early years, a common meeting place for Texas state
congressmen, where many "backroom deals" were said to go down.
The Driskill was
president Lyndon B. Johnson took his wife, Lady Bird Johnson on their
first date. It became his campaign headquarters during his
congressional career, and became his home base on return trips to
Austin as President. He watched the results of the 1964 Presidential
Election from its presidential suite and addressed supporters from its
ballroom after his victory.
Today the Driskill
the premier hotels in Texas, featuring lavish bridal suites, two
restaurants, and a grand ballroom. It is also well-known for being one
of the most haunted hotels in the United States, featuring as many as
half a dozen ghosts throughout the building.
The hotel is located
Brazos Street. It was listed in the National Register of Historic
Places in 1969.
Also see: Peter Haviland of Lone Star Spirits, Texas Top Ten
Most Haunted List
According to Austin
Driskill makes his presence known by the smell of cigar smoke. He is
believed to turn bathroom lights on and off in several guest rooms on
the top floors of the hotel.Another apparition is the four-year-old
daughter of a US Senator. She haunts the grand staircase leading from
the mezzanine down to the lobby. The little girl was playing unattended
with a ball when she slipped and fell to the marble floor at the bottom
of the stairs and was killed. The front desk staff has heard the child
bouncing the ball down the steps and giggling.
A Houston woman in
1990s took a trip to the Driskill to try and recuperate from a marriage
that her fiancé called off at the last minute . Staying in Room
29 she decided the way to help herself recoup, would be to go on a week
long shopping spree with her fiancé’s credit cards. She was last
seen coming out of the elevator on the fourth floor with her arms
filled with numerous bags and packages. Her body was discovered three
days later when the housekeepers became concerned that she hadn’t left
the room to eat. She was found lying in the bathtub. She had shot
herself in the stomach muffling the sound with a pillow. The Austin
Police Department crime scene photographer reported it was a sad scene
to see such a young women commit suicide when she could have had a
long, happy life ahead of her.
Haunted America Tours
This site is © Copyright R. David Anderson
All Rights Reserved.