Throughout its history, Galveston has played host to tragedy and death. With events like the Great Galveston Storm of 1900 in its past, it’s no wonder islanders and tourists alike have reported sighting ghastly apparitions at locations throughout the island. Whether you believe in the paranormal, or you just enjoy a spooky story, you don’t have to try too hard to find either in Galveston.
Apparitions have been reported to haunt these four historic Galveston locations.
Opened in 1911 as a symbol of Galveston’s resiliency in the wake of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the historic beachfront hotel Grand Galvez bears the name of Bernardo de Galvez, 1st Viscount of Galveston, for whom the island was named. Throughout its illustrious history, Grand Galvez, dubbed the “Queen of the Gulf,” has played host to presidents, celebrities and, purportedly, even a few ghosts, including the ghost of a lovelorn woman who supposedly committed suicide in room 501. The tale goes that the young woman, Audra, was waiting for her beloved, a sailor, to return from a voyage. One day, she received news that her fiancé's ship had sunk during a powerful storm. Audra held out hope and kept her vigil for days. Ultimately though, convinced her fiancé was dead, she hanged herself. A few days later, Audra’s fiancé returned to the Galvez in search of her.
2024 Seawall Blvd.
The first mansion built on the island and one of the first brick residences built in Texas, Ashton Villa was constructed in 1859 by James M. Brown, a wealthy businessman. The landmark three-story home was built in the Victorian Italianate style and features deep eaves, long windows, ornate verandas, and a smidgen of paranormal activity. Objects reportedly move unassisted, clocks suddenly stop and disembodied footsteps and voices are heard in the house. Some claim Brown’s daughters Rebecca “Bettie” Ashton Brown and Mathilda “Tilly” Brown-Sweeney are often seen or heard throughout the residence. Bettie is often witnessed on the center stairway, in the hallway on the second-floor landing, and in the Gold room while Bettie’s younger sister Tilly, an accomplished pianist, is sometimes sighted playing the piano in the Gold Room. During the Civil War Ashton Villa was used as a hospital for Confederate soldiers and some report seeing Confederate soldiers patrolling the grounds to this day.
The mansion operates as an event space and is only open to the public during infrequent seasonal tours and private gatherings.
2328 Broadway Avenue J
Galveston’s oldest home, a Greek Revival-style abode known as the Menard House, was built in 1838 by Michel B. Menard, an early Texas pioneer who co-founded Galveston and represented Galveston County in the Congress of the Republic of Texas. Menard’s young daughter Clara died in the home after falling down the stairs. Some say they’ve heard and seen her ghost in the house.
Menard House is a privately owned historic site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Through a partnership with The Galveston Historical Foundation, the house operates as a museum and event venue.
The Menard House is available for public tours Friday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Ave N 1/2
Known both as the Bishop’s Palace and as the Walter Gresham House, the Victorian stunner sitting at 1402 Broadway in Galveston was built for attorney, railroad magnate and Civil War Veteran Colonel Walter Gresham, who relocated to Galveston from Virginia with his wife following the war, according to Galveston.com.
Designed by famed Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton between 1887 and 1893, the home is one of the island’s last surviving structures from its great era of mansion building. Constructed of steel and stone, the three-story structure survived the Great Storm of 1900 almost unscathed. The Catholic Diocese of Galveston-Houston bought the house in 1923, and for many years it served as the seat of the local bishop (hence the name Bishop’s Palace), according to the Texas State Historical Association. The Galveston Historical Foundation bought the mansion in 2013. The residence may have changed hands over the years, but it’s said that it’s original owner, Walter Gresham, still patrols the grounds. His ghost reportedly becomes more active during a storm or hurricane, according to galvestonghost.com.
Considered one of the country’s finest examples of Victorian architecture, Bishop’s Palace is listed by the U. S. Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.
The Bishop’s Palace is available for public tours daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1402 Broadway Avenue J
Sources: Texas State Historical Association Handbook, Galveston Historical Foundation, galvestonghost.com, hauntedroms.com, Hotel Galvez, Robert Wlodarski and Anne Powell Wlodarski’s “Haunted Restaurants, Taverns and Inns of Texas”
Have you had any spooky encounters at these Galveston locales? Would you add any other locations to this list? Let us know in the comments below.