Galveston, Texas is a coastal city that’s situated right on the Gulf of Mexico. Serving as a gateway to greater commerce in both Texas and the American Southwest, historically speaking Galveston is second to only New Orleans in terms of ship travel. Sailors from the Atlantic, Tampa Bay region, the Caribbean, and Mexico thought of Galveston as must-visit port. With all the sea traffic, Galveston emerged as also a popular tourist spot for those descending from the nearby Houston area as well as those arriving by sea.
Looking to capitalize on all the traffic, civic leaders in the area commissioned the construction of the Hotel Galvez in 1911, the hotel was favorably named after the first explorer to the area, Bernardo de Galvez. Over two hundred and twenty-six guest rooms span out over a lavish thirteen thousand square feet property that includes six individual palatial style suites. Constructed with a trifold positional foundation and standing with its center wing at seven stories, the hotel is the most luxurious beachside spectacle in the Galveston area. Including a spa, dining room, banquet hall, tropical swimming pool area with cabanas, Hotel Galvez has had the honor of receiving four sitting Presidents as well as celebrities and dignitaries of all variety. With all the prestige and presumedly normal tourism industry, just what exactly is the story behind the spirits haunting the Hotel Galvez?
Is the Hotel Galvez Haunted?
The most commonly reported paranormal activity on the hotel property is the sense of being surrounded or followed. Nothing malicious or violent is attached to this feeling, but guests claim to be sitting quietly in the lobby area in the evening during a time when there’s no foot traffic and they hear a low chatter. Almost just a whisper, it seems to be a supernatural hum that even has the overnight hotel clerks commenting that they’ve even detected the faint odors of cigar smoke despite nobody smoking in the lobby at all. It’s almost as if, to guests and the clerks, that the lobby area is crowded with ghosts that aren’t directly seen. On the flip side of this, guests have also spoken about a sense of being followed. Walking down to the lobby or across its hall, they’ve felt a presence as if someone were right on their heels yet turning around and nobody is there.
Despite sensations of a room full of crowded spirits, it is in fact a singular entity that is both the most active and the most popular. Hotel staff refers to her as “the Lovelorn Lady.” As her name and spiritual status would imply, she is of tragic origin. The most popular version is that her real name is Audra and she was engaged to a sailor who had frequently gone out to sea. Audra was quite fond of Room #501 as it was a short trip up to the roof via a nearby maintenance hatch. It is said that she would go often to sit and gaze out into the gulf, eagerly awaiting the ship that carried her betrothed. One day reports that her fiancé’s ship had been sunk in the Gulf reached the hotel and Audra was devastated. Feeling all was lost, she ended up committing suicide via hanging in her room, yet the tragedy was amplified when her fiancé was not in fact drowned and returned two days later to learn of her untimely death.
The Ghosts of Hotel Galvez
Over the years guests have spoken about Room #501 being haunted by Audra’s spirit. Primarily, activity of electrical nature is the most common complaint. At first, guests have mentioned a very cold breeze will pass by them in the room before the lights mysteriously flicker on and off as does the television. Housekeeping has further mentioned such disturbances and also commented that the electronic key card doesn’t work to the room, despite operating normally on others. Guests along this fifth floor have claimed to have similar experiences with a cold breeze, and even at times, witnessed a sad-looking woman in period piece clothing who mysteriously is there one moment then disappears the next!
In one of the more unknown and rarely publicized facts is that the hotel is actually constructed on top of the former ruins of St. Mary’s Orphanage. In 1900, Galveston was hit hard with a hurricane that is still officially recorded as the deadliest in U.S. history. The orphanage was leveled during this time and nearly 100 children and nuns were killed in its path. Years later, once the hotel was built over the leveled ruins, guests and hotel clerks noticed some bizarre activity. At times the sensation of child wrapping themselves around a person’s leg is felt, in not so much in a malevolent way, but in one that seems to desire attention and protection. Sounds of little children running and giggling throughout hallways and the spa area have been reported when simply nobody is there. The piano has been heard playing by mysterious little hands and even random women have heard someone softly cry out, “mommy” to them.
The Hotel Galvez has taken the paranormal activity at their hotel with a badge of honor as they welcome guests to indulge in a ghost tour that is held once a month coupled with a dinner tour. During the month of October, a more in-depth tour is held four times a week, however, abbreviated tours are held at intermittent times and information is available with the front desk. For all the lavish old-world charm that the Hotel Galvez has, it still proudly stands as a testament to the historic past and paranormal present.