Top Ten Most Haunted Places in Houston, Texas
Built upon barren and murky swamplands, the city of Houston, Texas started out as anything but a dream. After Texas gained its independence from Mexico in 1836, two New Yorkers helped create H-town, a fact much detested by modern-day Texans.
Brothers August and John Allen bought over 6,000 acres of Texas swamp land and named it after the Republic of Texas’s first hero and President. Many Tejanos, Mexicans fighting for the Americans, helped clear out the desolate area. The city officially began.
The Anglo and Mexican cultures lived alongside each other – sometimes at peace and sometimes simply co-existing, but often in violence. A city born from violence, Houston has as bloody of a history as any other.
It can be seen in the bars, hotels, and residencies of the city. Some even manifest below ground while others are on the top of the sea. In a city as large and wild as Houston, it comes as no surprise that many mishaps occurred that have left the city incredibly haunted.
These are the top hauntings of Houston, Texas. Next time you visit, take a tour with US Ghost Adventures.
1. La Carafe
A good place to start on any ghost hunt is with the oldest building in the city. That honor belongs to La Carafe.
Today it is a popular bar, reminiscent of something you may find down in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In 1847, however, it operated as a bakery called Kennedy Bakery.
The original wooden building was lost in a fire and the brick building we see today was built in 1860. Later, it became a trading post sharing the same name.
After that, it housed multiple different businesses from a drug store to a nail salon, and finally, a bar. It is considered the oldest and continuously commercially run building.
In the 1980s, Houston skate crew “Urban Animals” made this their main watering hole. Additionally, it’s rumored that Sam Houston spent one of his final nights here, and many believe his ghost is one of the many that remain.
Oldest Bartender in Houston
The ambiance of La Carafe only adds to its mystique. The inside of the bar is dimly lit with mostly candles while the drab, old brick solidifies the feeling of being in a place littered with the spirits of another time.
Then there are the unexplained occurrences.
The cash register is known to open and close on a whim. While it may be quite old, the frequency of the event makes many wonder who is actually opening the cash register.
Some believe that a former bartender named Carl is who’s haunting the place. He likes to play tricks on women employees and patrons and is known to knock over wine glasses from time to time. People have also reported seeing him staring out the windows after the bar is closed.
Upstairs houses another spirit as many bartenders have reported hearing the sounds of a child playing, often with a phantom ball that bounces across the floor.
The creepy activity offers a truly terrifying and unique dive into the concrete jungle of downtown Houston.
2. The Rice Hotel/Lofts
The Rice Hotel, now known as the Rice Lofts, has a history as interesting as any other. Equally as tumultuous as the city of Houston itself, the hotel has seen many guests come and go.
Some decided, perhaps unwillingly, to stay forever.
The land the building is built on today was the original site for the Texas capital building between 1837 to 1839. However, when Austin became the new Republic capital in 1839, the building lay vacant until 1881. It was razed and a new building was erected.
Eventually, Rice University founder William Marsh Rice bought it and created the Rice Hotel. Then, Texas politician and state hero Jesse Jones bought it and created the 17-story building we see today.
Mr. Jones kept the name and transformed it into the most luxurious hotel in all of the Lone Star state. In 1922, its cafeteria became the first public room in the state to have air conditioning. In the 1940s, it was the first hotel in the city to have fluorescent lights.
Many politicians and celebrities chose to stay at the state-of-the-art while in Bayou City. Among them were Shirley Temple, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mick Jagger, Richard Nixon, and John F. Kennedy.
It would be the last place Kennedy would ever stay.
A Permanent Dark Cloud
The progressive president stayed here with his wife Jackie on Nov 21st, 1963. The next day he took his infamous car ride in Dallas, where he would be assassinated.
Some say his spirit still haunts his room as many feel a presence where he last slept. Orbs are often seen near his room and door knobs constantly rattle.
Something, or someone, has a tendency to occupy the old ballroom as well. After being converted into lofts in 1997, the couple reappeared on the rooftop.
Their dancing continues to this day with occupants of the apartment complex complaining of footsteps and loud noises coming from the roof.
3. Glenwood Cemetery
Built in 1871 and designed by Horticulturalist Alfred Whitaker, it is just as beautiful as it is haunting. Modeled after the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, and the Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, WA, the Glenwood Cemetery reflects the style of the time.
In the Victorian era, cemeteries were not only meant to honor the dead but the living. Back then, Cemeteries were designed with the visitor’s comfort in mind and often resembled parks.
Rather than simply having an ugly slew of tombstones in a line, they were sprawling and decorated with natural greenery. For this reason, the Glenwood Cemetery is also referred to as “The River Oaks of The Dead.”
Live Oaks dot the scenery with the largest being the “Cemetery Oak.” It stands at a height of fifty-two feet and is estimated to be over 100 years old.
The cemetery was so beautiful that on November 2nd, 1886 a picnic was held. This morbid affair included over 4,000 Houston residents. Glenwood Cemetery was at the westernmost stop of one of Houston’s first street car lines and doubled as a city park for quite some time.
Timeless Legends of Glenwood Cemetery
Many famous Houstonians rest here. Over 20 mayors, a handful of Governors, and the last president of the Republic of Texas, Anson Jones call this beautiful greenery home.
Yet, their most famous resident is billionaire aviator turned movie director Howard Hughes. His story was adapted for the big screen with the 2004 film The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Additionally, Howard Hughes’ father, Howard Robard Hughes Sr., inventor of the rock bit, is also buried here.
With the history that’s been buried in this pristine cemetery, it’s easy to see why Glenwood Cemetery is a local favorite for ghost hunters.
Electromagnetic signals are strong amongst the tombs of Glenwood. At times, however, digital devices are known to not work. It’s believed that the spirit of a previous owner still walks the park, among others.
4. The Brewery Tap
If you’re looking for a break from the massive cemeteries and streets of Houston, but still want something spooky, look no further than The Brewery Tap.
Its location on Franklin Street rests right under the Franklin Street bridge. This part of the historic Buffalo Bayou downtown area was once a burial ground. In fact, one tomb, the Donnellan family tomb, is still part of the bridge itself!
The remains were relocated to the Glenwood Cemetery when the bridge was built in 1903. At the time of removal, the crypt held 3 remains which included that of Timothy Donnellan, one of the first settlers of Houston.
His red brick tomb was enlarged to aid in the construction of the bridge. It was not discovered until the early 1990s, although it had been sitting there in plain sight for some time.
Darkness Brews Beneath The Brewery
The building that houses The Brewery Tap dates back to 1892 and was an early producer of ice and beer for the Houston area. In the time of prohibition, the bar operated as the Magnolia Brewery where the resident ghost worked in his former life.
The story goes that the former bartender, William, died within the building’s walls, although, there are varying versions of his death. One describes his death as a work-related accident while another claims the Mafia murdered William.
In any matter, William has never left his former job. It’s been said that William will occasionally place a phantom drink order and from time to time, will manifest in various areas of the brewery. In fact, the owner has managed to catch a photo of this otherworldly employee.
Is it simply the soul of someone who loved the brewery that haunts the brewery? Or is it cursed by the souls of the disturbed? Either way, if you’re a lover of beer, the supernatural, or both, it is not a location to be missed along your journey through Houston’s sprawling urban ecosystem.
Why is The Brewery Tap haunted?
Is the building simply cursed? Constructed on top of a tomb, it’s easy to see why this fact alone plants a seed for a history of darkness and hauntings. Whether or not the disturbance of a burial ground is to blame for the tragedy that befell poor Will remains a mystery. What is known is that Will’s spirit appears to be forever tied to The Brewery Tap, continuing on as he did in life.
5. Julia Ideson Building
Houston has a deep music culture in many different genres. Blues, Country, Rock, and later Hip Hop have all played their role in developing the city.
It’s possible that at any time an artist may have walked by the Julia Ideson Building and heard the lone violin echoing through the building and found inspiration.
However, if they had peered in to see who was playing its beautiful strings, they would be shocked to find no one there.
Located near Houston City Hall and Sam Houston Park, it is part of the Houston Public Library and is at an easy and central stop for any paranormal investigator.
The building was constructed in the 1920s and was supposed to be part of a larger five-building plan. The Great Depression put a pause on the construction, however, and the rest of the building was never finished.
The Spanish Renaissance Julia Ideson building was opened in 1926 and was named after the city’s first librarian. A man named Jacob Frank Cramer moved into the building’s basement after the grand opening and became its first caretaker.
Music remains through the afterlife.
Cramer, an elderly man originally from Baltimore, brought his trusty companion Peety with him. Peety was a loyal and obedient German Shepard that often walked the halls with Cramer as he did his nightly inspections.
He and Peety were much loved by all the library staff who described him as “having one of the sweetest smiles I have ever seen.” The much-loved janitor was also a musician and played the violin very beautifully.
He walked the three-story building at night, enjoying the acoustics of the large building, choosing the inner court as his main theatre. One morning in 1936 his body was discovered in the basement. Peety was nowhere to be found and the 79-year-old Cramer’s tenure was over.
For decades after his death, visitors have reported hearing the distant sound of a violin, specifically The Blue Danube, Cramer’s favorite. Further, staff members have reported hearing the sound of claws walking across the floor, undoubtedly Peety continuing his rounds with his master.
6. The Downtown Houston Tunnels
Below the mass of iron and steel that stretches outwards into the hot Texas sky, there is a relief. A system of tunnels built in the 1930s allows for an escape from the daily toiling and mingling of above-ground life.
What started as an underground connection between two movie theaters is now the largest downtown tunnel system in the United States. The Downtown Houston Tunnels offer cool relief from the hot summer sun. Complete with air conditioning, the labyrinth-like tunnel system is also lined with shops and food courts.
Construction began in the 1930s and expansions commenced up until the 1970s. As more buildings were added to the downtown area, more tunnels were constructed. Though convenient, it is very easy to get lost in transit.
And some get lost permanently.
Otherworldly Wanderers of The Houston Tunnels
The Downtown Tunnels were constructed by the 31st Governor of Texas, Ross Sterling.
Soon after their development, an entertainment business owner named Will Horwitz connected a movie theatre to three of his vaudeville theaters to save money on air conditioning costs.
Though providing family fun for many, the expansion was anything but for the workers. It is said that during this part of the construction, there was a collapse and ten workers perished.
Now, many see their shadow figures against the walls in the deepest parts of the tunnels. Some have heard footsteps and the horrific sounds of men screaming.
While many are doubtful, as there are many trespassers that take refuge in its deeper caverns, there is no doubt to those that have been down there after dark.
Why are the Downtown Houston Tunnels haunted?
The tragic deaths of the workers are believed to be the reason for the otherworldly activity, but they’re not the only cause. The tunnels have also become a hotbed for undesirable activity, creating a dark atmosphere that calls to the otherworldly.
7. Battleship Texas
The only surviving US naval ship to have served in both World Wars, the Battleship Texas is truly a splendor of American naval power. Commissioned in 1914, the vessel was originally coal-powered, but after the wars ended, she underwent modifications.
In 1925, the coal boilers were replaced with modern oil-fired ones, and in 1927, she was back out on the waters. Operating as the flagship of the American fleet, the USS Texas was considered one of the most powerful weapons in the world at that time.
Upgrades to the ship continued as World War 2 progressed and the vessel saw action all over the European Front – North Africa in 1942, Normandy in June 1944, and Southern France in August of that same year.
The battleship played a major role in D-Day. Texas shelled Omaha Beach and Point Du Hoc and help to soften enemy defense. After the European Front was secured, the vessel made its way to the Pacific and played a role in the assault on Okinawa on May 14th, 1945.
After the war was over the ship was dubbed “the magic carpet” for carrying so many soldiers back to their homes. She then was transferred to the San Jacinto battleground, complete with a commencement ceremony on April 21st, 1948.
In 1975 the Battleship Texas became a National Historic Engineering Landmark and in 1977, her status as a National Historic Landmark was cemented.
The Perils of War
With a history like that of Battleship Texas, it’s no wonder overnight ghost hunts are offered for anyone brave enough to partake. It is believed the ship is haunted by the only man unlucky enough to lose his life on the Battleship Texas and never leave.
A helmsman named Chris Christiansen was killed on the bridge by enemy fire off the coast of Cherbourg on June 25th, 1944. Ever a faithful member of the US Navy, he stays in his position ready for the next fight.
Many who stay overnight report seeing a mysterious red-headed sailor near the ladders and in the hallways. Disembodied voices have been heard and mysterious vapors have often been seen as well.
8. The Old Spaghetti Warehouse Building
Due to Hurricane Harvey, this building is currently being rehabilitated. Many Houstonians are sad to see it go as it has served as a restaurant since 1974 when the Spaghetti Warehouse moved in.
While there is a chain of these around the country, no other location can boast the title of being one of the most haunted buildings in Texas.
The building was constructed by real estate developer B.A Riesner in 1912. At that time it housed the Desel-Boettcher Company, the largest wholesale retailer of fruit and produce in the state.
Houston was growing and during this time, Commerce Avenue was lined up with rows of similar warehouses, each stocked with different goods and services. Later, the building would become home to a pharmaceutical company.
It is here that the spirit of the Old Spaghetti Warehouse, or what was once there, comes into play.
Tragedy at The Warehouse
One day, a young pharmacist was bringing a product down from an upper level. Feeling the weight in his hands was too heavy he decided to take the elevator instead.
However, he made a drastic mistake and tripped as the elevator was still coming up, and he plummeted to his death.
Adding to the tragedy was the death of his beloved wife, who struggled with his passing for a year before succumbing to her sadness.
Who haunts the Old Spaghetti Warehouse Building?
There are actually a few spirits that inhabit the building. It’s believed that both the spirits of the pharmacist and his wife haunt the building as witnesses claim to have seen them on the second floor. The pharmacist has been seen shuffling around, appearing to be taking care of inventory as he did in his previous life.
Other reports include the sounds of what appear to be children running around, knocking over the various antiques now stored in the building. Some have reported hearing their name called by a disembodied voice, though it’s not clear who – or what – is calling it.
9. Jefferson Davis Hospital
Opened in 1925, The Jefferson Davis Hospital served as a dedication to the memory of the Confederate soldiers who were buried on the very grounds where the hospital stood.
That’s right. This site is home to a cemetery that dates back to the 1800s.
In the 1840s, the Old City Cemetery was converted into a municipal cemetery that became the final resting place for individuals from all walks of their former lives. More than 6,000 people were buried here including Yellow Fever victims, slaves, politicians, and Confederate soldiers.
The cemetery would eventually deteriorate, and the city made plans to build a hospital that would provide affordable care for Houston’s indigent population. Family members of the dead opposed, but were promised their loved ones would be moved with the utmost care.
The truth was, many weren’t moved at all.
The earliest reports of hauntings go as far back as the opening of the hospital. Everyone from patients to nurses, and doctors reported sightings of mysterious pale beings wandering through the hospital.
It wasn’t uncommon for people to hear sounds of wailing and crying echoing throughout the halls. Though the activity was believed to be caused by disturbed spirits, the deaths that occurred in the hospital undoubtedly added to the phenomena.
The Disturbed and The Restless
After a very short run, the hospital closed in 1939 and sat empty for quite some time. There were talks of turning it into a center for contagious diseases but in the end, the spirits of the hospital had the building to themselves.
In 2004, restoration of the building began, and by 2013 it was turned into condos called the Elder Street Artists Lofts. The renovations wouldn’t shake the ghosts that call the area home, however.
Many that live there report strange happenings claiming most occur almost nightly, keeping residents awake.
Shadow figures are reported along the hallways in the darkness of the night. The feeling of being watched is quite common. The stench of sterilization products can be smelled at random times throughout the day.
This activity is high in the areas used as a morgue. The apparition of a little girl is repeatedly seen weeping in what used to be the treatment room. From the outside people, see her staring through the window.
Further, the air is often cold in the Elder Street Artist lofts, despite the hot Texas weather.
Why are the Elder Street Artists Lofts haunted?
It’s pretty eerie to think that there are individuals living in the rooms where patients took their last breath. But that’s exactly the scenario at Elder Street Artists Lofts. The building once served as a hospital during very primitive and dark times when survival rates were very low. Combine that with its placement on top of a former cemetery and you have the makings for a terrifyingly haunted place.
10. The Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo is a great place to take the family for the day. Chock full of exotic animals and displays teaching about them, it’s truly an enjoyable experience for people of all ages.
At night, however, it turns into a park for the dead.
Nagel, a German-born Dutch man whose parents immigrated to Tobin, Texas sometime around the turn of the century, was an eccentric and entertaining man. He would perform exciting stunts with the animals and trained many of them to put on a circus-like performance for visitors.
The Houston Zoo had a humble beginning, consisting of one small plot of land in Hermman Park with a lone bison named Earl. Thanks to the efforts of Houston Zoo zookeeper, Hans Nagel, the zoo expanded its inventory. By 1925, Nagel almost single-handedly acquired hundreds of animals for the new zoo.
However, no good deed goes unpunished, which is something Nagel would soon experience.
Protecting the Houston Zoo at All Costs
In 1941, Nagel would lose his life in a strange twist of fate. He saw a couple of teenagers sitting in a parked car behind some bushes in Hermann Park.
He was about to approach them when police officer Harold M. Warren stopped him. They had an argument over whose job it was protecting the park and in the end, Warren reached for his handcuffs.
Nagel reached for his gun but the officer shot first, killing Nagel. It’s said that his spirit still roams the zoo and the park to this day.
Employees of the zoo have reported the sounds of pots and pans banging around in one of the coolers. Some claim to experience the feeling of being watched and others have even felt a hand on their shoulder.
Nagel was very protective of the zoo and the animals during his time as the zookeeper, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be letting go any time soon.
Houston is a sprawl of buildings, roadwork, and people. But if you know where to look, even if that means taking a peak below ground or in the waters of the Buffalo Bayou, there are mysteries awaiting you.
The darkest dive bars, the most elaborate hotels, and the expensive condos all have something they keep secret from each other. Whispers of lives cut short and opportunities lost play out in the marshy city.
Texas’s first capital has something to offer everyone.
Many of those who founded are yelling out into the empty, cavernous streets when no one is looking. To find out what they are saying and where they are, take a tour with US Ghost Adventures next time you take a trip to Houston!
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