Austin Texas is famous for being the home of the television show Supernatural duo, Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) and Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) but it is also a mecca center of haunted locations. Most notably is the haunted Driskill Hotel. (You have to envision “Sam” & “Dean” pulling up in front of the hotel with their famous 1967 Impala, Baby. Would they bring their salt and iron in to investigate it?)
There are so many reported haunted locations in Austin, such as Omni Austin Hotel, Texas Governor’s Mansion, Austin Tavern, Littlefield House, et. al. however Driskill Hotel seems to always top the list of the haunted places in the city.
Considered by many as the most active location in Austin, the Driskill Hotel, first opened its doors on December 20, 1886. At the time it was considered the “Hotel of Dreams”. Located in the middle of downtown Austin on 6th Street, it is the most historically iconic landmarks in Austin.
Col. Jesse Lincoln Driskill purchased the property where he would build the hotel for less than $8,000. By the time the hotel was completed, however, the cost was estimated at more than $400,000 including 189 guest rooms and suites along with a high end grill and bar.
The hotel originally had four stories, occupying almost an entire block. It features three archways, one each on the north, south and east sides. Six million bricks were used in the building’s construction. Carved limestone busts of Col. Driskill and his two sons are located in these three sides.
Stepping into the doors is like stepping back in time. The building is built in Romanesque style with a stained glass dome, dozens of columns and brightly polished marble floors. It speaks of classic elegance and opulence, being among the world’s most luxurious hotels.
There is a large portrait of Col. Driskill located at the center of the main lobby staircase. Claims are if you make eye contact and maintain it, although it is not recommended, he will relentlessly stare into your soul making you cry. Rather dramatic (just a pinch)?!
Now on to the “juicy” part, the reported hauntings of the hotel. Jesse Lincoln Driskill’s spirit is reported to still be present in the hotel with reports of his haunting the top floor and elevators. He apparently was very fond of smoking cigars and guests claim to smell cigar smoke in their rooms or of him playing with their bathroom lights. (He passed away four years after his hotel opened.)
Documentation exists from 1887 of a young daughter of a popular Senator of the time who met her fate while chasing a ball along the grand staircase in the hotel. She fell down the staircase, killing her instantly. A week after her passing she was still at the hotel playing with her little ball, giggling down the hallways as you hear a ball bouncing down the stairs. This was the first recorded paranormal incident at the hotel.
Room 525 is supposed to be the most haunted room in the building. The story is often referred to as the “Suicide Brides.” It is a story of tragedy and despair that surrounds this room. Rumors abound involving two young women who were on their honeymoon, supposedly twenty years apart to the day.
The story goes that bride number one is the most active ghost. She was supposed to be married at the Driskill, but her future husband called it off the night before. She hung herself in her room and has most often been seen on the fourth floor walking the hallways in her wedding gown.
Surprisingly she is most often spotted by guests who are at the Driskill to attend a wedding or a bachelorette party. Oddly enough it is considered good luck for brides to see her ghost before their weddings.
The second jilted bride is called the “Houston Bride.” She has been seen on the elevator and leaving the elevator carrying a bunch of packages to her room. Many who have seen her are unaware she is no longer living. The “Houston Bride” actually talks to people and is seen entering her old room.
On the fateful night it is said that she put up a “do not disturb” sign, pulled a brand new handgun out of a package then taking a pillow to muffle the sound, she walked to the bathroom. Lying down in the bathtub she put the pillow to her chest and pulled the trigger, bleeding out in the tub. Her body was found about 3 days later.
In room 525 the overhead lights have a tendency to “flicker” on and off multiple times, although the desk lamps do not. Knockings on the doors in the room can be heard. Guests in room 525 have reported being pushed out of bed while others have reported their furniture being moved during the night.
Rumors claim that even the elevator near room 525 is haunted. Hotel elevators randomly go up and down with no one on them and no one operating them.
As a result the hotel staff blocked off the bathroom area then completely shut the room down. Reconstruction began in 1998, reopening this room. When this occurred, several strange incidents occurred. There were unexplained leaks, ghostly visions and claims of apparitions.
On the fourth floor, many claim to see what appears to be a spirit of a woman out of the corner of their eye when no one else is around. Female whispers have been heard, and although they are at times faint, those who have heard her do not forget it very easily. Hotel staff have heard a woman crying on this floor, although it is empty. All of these occurrences are supposedly related to the woman who committed suicide on that floor. (Possibly jilted bride number one?)
People who stay there claim there is an unsettling feeling about the place. In the halls, lining the walls, are reportedly very “creepy” random Victorian-era portraits. Most people painted in them are staring at you. One gentleman who stayed claimed there were hundreds of them and they were around every corner.
Reports of being touched on arms and faces, along with apparitions seen sitting in chairs or standing at windows looking out. Yet still on the third floor there is a portrait of a young girl holding flowers. Reportedly if you look at it, you get a sudden sensation of your feet being lifted off of the floor. When this occurs their equilibrium is off for several hours afterwards.
A Mrs. Bridges was a former front desk employee in the early 1900’s. Apparently she loved her job so much that she continues to “help” out. She is seen in Victorian dress and fusses with the flower arrangements (at least where they used to set). Also, she is only seen at night and accompanied by the smell of roses.
Peter J. Lawless lived in the hotel from 1886 to 1916. He sold tickets for the railroad, staying in the hotel during periods when it was even closed. He has been spotted on the 5th floor near the elevators. When elevator doors open, he is seen checking his pocket watch.
Housekeepers have trouble keeping room 419 tidied up. After vacuuming they will find footprints on the carpet, bed covers ruffled, dresser drawers open and the sensation of being watched and followed around.
Yet still there is a report of a ghost sitting in the lobby, in the old vault of the hotel. He may be the depression-era hotel manager keeping tabs on the money. Claims are however that he is cheerful and friendly.
Whether you are into the supernatural or not, the rich history of the Driskill Hotel is worth stopping in and checking out.
Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos Street, Austin, Texas 78701