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"Hauntingly" Good Times at "Spirited" Southern Properties

Tapoco Lodge, courtesy Tapoco Lodge

During a late summer/early fall marketing and events team meeting at Tapoco Lodge (ca. 1930s) in Robbinsville, N.C., Melissa Roof asked a simple question.

"We were talking about fall activities for the property, and I brought up the idea of a ghost tour. So, then I asked if anyone had any stories or experiences."

The recollections included the usual hauntings, such as whisperings when there's no one around and cold drafts, to the more particular, like the appearance of disembodied legs sitting in one of the chairs in the Laurel Lounge Bar sitting in one of the chairs, xxx learned the lodge had a story in just about every room.

"While everybody's experiences vary quite a bit, there is one recurring figure that seems to pop up in multiple locations around the lodge ~ a lady in a white gown.

And it seems to be one of those things where there's a lady in white in every hotel you go to. We don't know her story. She is seen primarily in the main building itself, appearing on the staircase that leads up to the lodge rooms.

Our front desk personnel, when they're counting down their drawers for the night or counting down the drawers at the Laurel Lounge Bar right next to it, will feel someone staring at them, and they look up, and there she is watching them count. She's very interested in our accounting."

She travels all around the lodge. Multiple people have seen her, and they have their reports of her."

Another area that gets reported is the Cheoah Dining Room. According to Roof, it was the mess hall back in the 1930s when the lodge was housing.

"Trixie, one of, if not the first, formerly enslaved people to settle in this area, lived here all his life and was the kitchen and the person in charge of the dining room. We're not sure if it's him still trying to keep an eye on things or somebody else keeping an eye on things back there, but the kitchen connected to that dining room is a constant source of noise."

With all of this learned information, Tapoco Lodge approached a local mother-daughter duo, who have their own paranormal investigation team, to conduct the property's ghost tours.

And the first one was quite a success, with 30 people turning out. With the interest, Roof says it may be an activity that's offered at select times throughout the year.

Even if you can't make it to a tour, who says you won't come across an unexplained happening or a spirit when staying at Tapoco Lodge.

Eerieness doesn't end when Halloween and spooky season does. Spirits roam year-round at many properties throughout the South.

For a "hauntingly" good time and the possibility of an otherworldly experience, check in at any one of these properties.

Lemp Mansion, courtesy of Lemp Mansion

St. Louis, Missouri

What once served as the home for the Lemps, the country's first beer brewers, is now considered one of the most haunted structures in the country. Take the ghost tour to learn about the tragedies that befell the beer barons.

1886 Crescent Hotel, personal collection

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

If these walls could talk, you would get an earful about the property's storied history. It has served as a hotel, a college and a hospital run by a quack. "America's Most Haunted" hotel has plenty of ghost stories and offers a ghost tour where guests can learn more about "The Ghost in the Morgue," among others.

Galveston, Texas

According to "A History of the Hotel Galvez" by Kathleen Maca, there are many spirits roaming "The Queen of the Gulf" like the "Lovelorn Bridge."

Engaged to a mariner who sailed from the Port of Galveston, there was a massive storm one day and no report of his ship. The bride-to-be heard it had sunk and, in despair, ended her life. The tragic part is the mariner showed up alive at the hotel a few days later.

The Emily Morgan San Antonio, courtesy of Historic Hotels of America

San Antonio, Texas

Known as "the official hotel of the Alamo," at one time, the hotel housed a medical facility, which had a morgue and a psychiatric ward on-site. Guests have reported unexplained noises, apparitions and the feeling of being touched. Floors seven, nine, 11 and 12 are said to have the most paranormal activity.

St. Francisville, La.

It is believed that nine identified ghosts roam the grounds of The Myrtles Plantation, including a slave girl named "Chloe." The former antebellum-era plantation is said to be one of the country's most haunted homes.

T'Frere's Bed and Breakfast, personal collection

Lafayette, La.

One of Acadiana's most haunted places, there have been reports of voices of adults and children, footsteps walking/scurrying at night and more. For those who want the possibility of experiencing something supernatural, request overnighting in the 1890 room, believed to be haunted by children.

Darrow, La.

The "crown jewel of Louisiana's River Road," Houmas House Plantation offers two unexplained tales. One is of Le Petite Fille (The Little Girl). She has been spotted on the property during the day, either in the hallway or on the stairs.

Cheneyville, La.

The three-story Loyd Hall Plantation, built in 1820, is situated on 640 acres of a working farm. And yes, like many old structures in Louisiana, it has its share of ghost stories. There have been four known deaths in the house and unexplained happenings since.

Baton Rouge, La.

Staff at the property reports the tenth floor is haunted by the ghost of the state's most infamous politician, Huey P. Long, aka "The Kingfish." He frequented the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, then known as the Heidelberg Hotel, so often that he even had a tunnel dug to the hotel across the street to escape his enemies and visit his mistress.

The spirit of Long is thought to leisurely walk the 10th floor, puffing away on a cigar. Reports claim he will look in a guest's direction and fade away when acknowledged, all the time being extremely polite and well-mannered. Though the hotel has been smoke-free since 2006, housekeepers have reported catching a whiff of cigar smoke from rooms they've just cleaned.

New Orleans, La.

A maid known as "Mrs. Clean" reportedly haunts the hotel, and once paranormal researchers asked why she stayed. The maid, whose mother, grandmother and great-grandmother also worked at the hotel, told them she was picking up after housekeeping to ensure high standards.

Bourbon Orleans, personal collection

New Orleans, La.

Once the historic Orleans Ballroom and Theater, and a convent, many of the property's spirits come from the property's past. Some of the ghosts that still hold claim to Bourbon Orleans include a Confederate soldier, a nun and a dancer in the ballroom."

Natchez, Miss.

According to Karla Brown, of Downtown Karla Brown Tours, Trips & Shuttle Services, several bed-and-breakfasts state they're haunted, like Monmouth Historic Inn. Here, some have heard General John Anthony Quitman, former owner, walking up the stairs.

Birmingham, Ala.

The city's oldest operating hotel opened in 1925, touting private bathrooms and cold water. The property is believed to be haunted by its previous owner, Clifford Stiles, who died in 1975. Interestingly enough, the other ghost that frequents The Redmont is that of Hank Williams. He overnighted here, on what would be his last night, en route to West Virginia.

Jekyll Island, Ga.

There have been seven reported ghosts that have been known to haunt this resort. They range from a ghostly bellman who delivers bridegrooms their pressed suits to the ghost of a former president who walks the veranda at sunset.

Read House Hotel, courtesy of Read House Hotel

Chattanooga, Tenn.

According to Ghost City Tours, spirits roam the third floor of the property. However, for a chance meeting with the resident ghost, Annalisa Netherly, the tour recommends requesting room 311.

Red Boiling Springs, Tenn.

One of the city's oldest landmarks happens to be listed by CNN as "the number two most haunted location in the United States." The property regularly hosts ghost-hunting weekends that include guided all-night ghost-hunting and more.

Nashville, Tenn.

The hotel is home to a resident ghost named Abigail. Legend has it that a young woman, Abigail, said goodbye to her soldier on the Union Station train platform during World War II before he shipped off to France. When she arrived at the same spot to greet him on his return, she learned he was killed in action. Distraught, Abigail threw herself in front of a passing locomotive far below.

The forlorn spirit of Abigail, still looking for her lost love, can reportedly be seen wandering the main terminal and her presence is felt in Room 711. Now known as the Abigail Room, guests can request to stay in the haunted suite. Her story also lives on at the hotel's bar and restaurant in the grand lobby, Carter's with The Abigail Cocktail. The signature libation is made with local spirit Picker's Vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, lemon and bubbles.

St. Augustine, Florida

The oldest inn in America's oldest city is said to be haunted by a former servant known as "Lily." Apparitions have appeared, and strange occurrences have happened in the third-floor room known as "Lily's Room."

St. Pete Beach, Florida

Over the years, there have been many reported "sightings" and strange occurrences at the property. However, the most common presence felt through the building is that of Mr. Thomas Rowe, who brought the Don CeSar to life and is the focal point of the hotel's love story.

People have reported seeing Mr. Rowe throughout the hotel, on the beach, and interacting with guests and staff. Sometimes in the evening, it is said you can look up to the windows on the 5th floor and see the figure of a man watching from above.

Francis Marion, personal photo

Charleston, S. C.

In the early 1930s, New Yorker Ned Cohen was found face down with his body smashed in the middle of King Street, facing toward the old Citadel's parade grounds.

Today, visitors hear eerie and unexplained sounds at night, all too familiar to the bell staff and room attendants walking the halls. Some see the image in shirt sleeves; others feel his presence throughout the hotel.

Asheville, N.C.

For nearly half a century, there has been the belief that a female ghost roams the hallways of the main inn. The spirit is referred to as the Pink Lady because of the flowing pink gown she wears.

It is believed the young woman was a guest in room 545 in the 1920s. She either jumped or was pushed to her death in the Palm Court, five floors below. No records support these claims, but the incident may have been kept quiet to avoid negative publicity. Nevertheless, reports of her sightings still occur; some say they see a pink mist, others a full apparition of a young, long-haired beauty in a pink gown.

The Carolina Inn, personal photo

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Even though room 252 has been renovated into four rooms, the long-deceased-yet-still-there guest, Dr. William Jacocks, who occupied it for 17 years, enjoys having fun with the unexpecting guests. It is said he locks doors, leaves curtains wide open and more.

Louisville, Ky.

Legend says two lovers were to be married at the hotel in 1907, but the groom met an untimely death on his way to the wedding. His then-distraught bride threw herself down the elevator shaft, falling ten stories to her death. The bride is said to continue to haunt the halls of this historic hotel.

Berea, Ky.

The historic property attracts ghost hunters with its three-day ghost hunts. Some guests report seeing the apparition of a young boy in their photographs. At times, the voice of a boy named "Timmy" can be heard in the hotel basement.

Airlie, courtesy of Historic Hotels of America

Warrenton, Va.

In a dimly lit meeting room of Airlie hangs an antique portrait of a grand lady painted by the renowned 18th-century English artist Sir Joshua Reynolds. It shows a woman posing with such pride and elegance that her likeness has been said to captivate the soul of anyone who gazed upon it.

Some guests and staff over the years came to suspect the Lady's portrait held a sinister secret. Whether you crossed the boardroom to fetch a forgotten document or sat at the grand dining table for a meeting, the Lady's gaze remained locked upon you, unwavering and unnerving.

Despite this, the portrait remains a cherished heirloom, an integral part of the Airlie history. To some, it is a source of fascination, drawing visitors from far and wide, eager to experience the eerie sensation of the Lady's gaze. To others, it is a dreaded presence, a reminder that even the most beautiful things could conceal the darkest of secrets. And so, the portrait of the Lady, with her haunting eyes that seem to pierce the veil between the living and the dead, continues to watch over the boardroom of Airlie Main House.

Middleton, Va.

Heralded as the oldest and longest continuously run inn in the country, The Wayside Inn has been the home away from home for many notables, like Thomas Edison and Tom Cruise. The property has attracted otherworldly guests as well.

The Wayside Inn has reported various paranormal activities, such as objects disappearing and turning up later in a different location, items flying off the shelf and more unexplained happenings.

Blennerhassett Hotel, courtesy of Parkersburg CVB

Parkersburg, WVa.

Built in 1889, the property is known for several hauntings, mainly from the gaslight era, says Susan Sheppard, story-teller and creator of Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tours.

The primary haunting at the hotel is "the smoking gentleman," the builder of the hotel, Mr. William N. Chancellor. Not only has his apparition been seen at the hotel, but his cigar smoke lingers throughout the establishment and the ghost tour route.

Washington, D.C.

During Shoreham's early years, three people died unexpectedly in suite 870, two being the hotel's owners' daughter and wife.

During its vacancy, there were claims of mysterious noises, doors slamming shut, and furniture moving—many of which happened around 4 a.m., the time of Juliette's death.

special thanks to Historic Hotels of America for additional information


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