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The Hotel Icon

The Hotel Icon is one of many haunted hotels in Houston. While lacking a celebrity appearance, like John F. Kennedy at The Rice Hotel, it promptly doubles down on spiritual activity. This historic Greek Revival structure, once the home of the Union National Bank, became a hotspot for suicides during the Great Depression. 


Other various mishaps occurred throughout the hotel’s twenty-year stint, causing terror-inducing stays for unprepared visitors. Room 415 is reportedly the most haunted but by far the only one. 


Quick Facts:


  • The building Hotel Icon operates in was once the Union National Bank building. Built in 1911, it was the tallest building in Houston until 1913
  • Hotel Icon opened in 2004 at the end of a $35 million, two-year refurbishment 
  • Many guests have seen a strange man dressed in a 1930s-style brown suit on the 10th floor.
  • Reports of gunfire in the middle of the night are common. When investigated, no evidence of firearms or bullet holes is ever found 


The Union National Bank Building


Upon its construction in 1911, the Union National Bank building was the tallest building on the Houston skyline. The Greek revival style building, with its Corinthian columns looking down upon the city street, was a testament to Houston’s living and American ingenuity. Inside, 30-foot Doric columns greeted visitors into the bank and welcomed entrepreneurial businessmen to their lofty offices high above the clouds. 


While its title of “tallest building” was stripped from it just two short years later, it would continue to be an awe-inspiring sight to visitors of the commercial city. So stunning, in fact, that it was rumored to have been singled out by the infamous Bonnie and Clyde.


The building changed names along with various mergers and buyouts; The Continental Building, The Pan American Bank Building, and the Natural Gas Building. The upstairs offices were rented out until 1973. It lay decrepit for many years until being transformed into The Hotel Icon in 2004. Marriot took control of the building in 2011, and a second, $1 million, renovation took place. 


The Man In The Brown Suit


The Great Depression of 1929 shook the nation to its core. Houston was no exception, but the oil trade helped keep construction and business up, although a small trickle of what it once was. 


However, with zero foresight and the shock of an economic collapse, many in the banking business responded poorly. Many members of the Union National Bank saw their customers rapidly pulling money out of the banks. Their numbers plummeted, and soon, so did they. 


A large number of bankers and other financial workers that occupied the uppermost floors of the building took their own lives following the great crash. Some by their hand and some with the help of gravity. 


To this day, gunshots are heard throughout the hotel late at night. Often they are accompanied by the sounds of bodies collapsing on the floor. When investigated, there is never any evidence or body of such an act of violence. 


The most common sighting stemming from the days of the Great Depression is of a man in a brown suit. The suit is in fashion with what was trending during that period. He appears on the 10th floor, and some have seen him pushing himself out of a guestroom window. 

The man is seen so often that he even made a TripAdvisor review!



Other Spirits of The Hotel Icon


While many employees of the hotel may deny the spiritual activity here, others are not so silent. It has been labeled one of the most haunted hotels in Texas by various sources year after year. 


One of the main spirits of the hotel is notorious for stinking up the upper floors of the building. Footsteps are often heard in the hallways of the upper floor. A key card is needed to enter here, so it is not somewhere anyone can wander into. 


Upon investigating the noise, hotel workers are stunned to find nowhere there but a terrible smell lingering in the hallways. 


During the renovations in 2004, a homeless man wandered into the hotel seeking shelter. His chosen abode for the night was the massive vault that sits behind the main desk, the same that was used during the Union National Bank days. The man inadvertently locked himself into the vault and was not discovered by construction crews for another two weeks. It is believed that he is responsible for the terrible smell. 


Room 415 on the fourth floor has a reputation for being the most haunted room in the building. A manager of Union National Bank once held an office there. During the initial stock market crash, he went into his office and shot himself in the face. Today guests in that room hear gunshots, disembodied voices, and some meet him in the middle of the night. He hangs over their bed, half of his face torn, and revolver in hand. 


Haunted Houston


Hotel Icon continues its homage to the days of old Houston. The old vault sits silently behind the main desk. The spirits of those that used to enter its safe confines roam the hallways and bedrooms of the grandiose building. To learn more about this haunted locale and others in the Houston area, take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures


Read our blog for more spooky locations such as these, and keep up with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok for all kinds of creepy content!



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