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The Driskill Hotel

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One of the most famous 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 grand opening 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 governor since.

Driskill unfortunately did not 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 hands several 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 threatened with 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.

Throughout its history, the 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 where future 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 remains one of 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 at 601 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 Ghost Tours, 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 the early 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.

Citation: Source Haunted America Tours





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