The Hotel Galvez, also known as the Grand Galvez or the Queen of the Gulf, is a historic hotel located on the seawall in Galveston, Texas. For over a century, the luxurious hotel has been welcoming guests from all over the world, serving visitors with its iconic beachfront and opulent furnishings.
However, Hotel Galvez offers more than just lavish rooms and ocean views; it serves as a gateway to the supernatural. From presidential visits to the legend of the “Ghost Bride,” the Hotel Galvez houses secrets that stretch beyond the living world.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, history buff, or a paranormal investigator, this article is your ultimate guide to understanding the hauntings in Hotel Galvez. So read on, if you dare, to uncover the truth behind the haunted Hotel Galvez.
History of Hotel Galvez
The history of Hotel Galvez dates back to 1911 when it was built on the Galveston Seawall in Galveston, Texas. Construction of the seawall began in 1902 after the devastating 1900 Galveston hurricane which took away over 6,000 lives.
In 1898, the seasonal Beach Hotel was burnt down in a fire accident. This prompted the local authorities to approve the construction of Hotel Galvez in a bid to revive the tourism sector in the city. The hotel, which reportedly cost $1 million to build, officially opened its doors on June 10, 1911.
At its peak, the hotel receives over 40,000 guests daily from all over the country. The place was widely known to the “Playground of the Southwest” for socialites, businessman, and politicians. Several prominent figures including U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as famous personalities like Frank Sinatra and Howard Hughes have also visited the historic hotel.
During the World War II, the hotel was temporarily taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard and served as a wartime headquarters as well as barracks for troops in training.
Over the years, the hotel suffered significant wear and tear from the coastal conditions as well as natural disasters like Hurricane Carla. This prompted several rounds of renovation works by different owners including the Baker Corporation, National Hotel Corporation, Harvey McCarty, and Denton Cooley.
The hotel last changed hands in May 2021 when it was purchased by Dallas hoteliers Mark and Lorenda Wyant. The couple paid a total of $100 million to purchase the iconic building and undergo renovations. The hotel was renamed as the “Grand Galvez” in honor of Bernardo de Galvez, a Spanish military leader and hero of the American Revolutionary War.
Today, Hotel Galvez is the oldest hotel on the island. It is also listed as a significant landmark by National Register of Historic Places (in 1979) and is currently a member of the Historic Hotels of America, a consortium sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The longstanding history of the hotel have also led to its infamous reputation of being haunted. That said, Hotel Galvez have embraced the ghost repute, touting it to be a highlight of every visitors’s stay in the hotel. Ghost tours of the Grand Galvez are also held all year round by Hotel Galvez ghost expert Melissa Hall.
The Ghost Bride and Room 501
The most famous legend associated with the century-old Hotel Galvez is none other than the “Ghost Bride”. As the story goes, a young woman named Audra staying on the fifth floor of the hotel was waiting for her fiancé to return from sea.
Everyday, she would take an elevator to the eigth floor and climb a slender ladder that led to one of the hotel’s four turrets. Once inside the hexagonal turret, she would watch through an opening, eagerly awaiting the return of his ship.
One day, Audra overheard the news that his ship had sunk. She was devastated and heartbroken as her fiancé had promised to return for their wedding. In grief, the bride wore her wedding dress and hanged herself in room 501.
The twist in the tale? Her fiancé had actually survived the shipwreck and arrived the port days later, ready to marry his fiancée.
To this day, visitors and staff claim to have seen a melancholy figure, dressed in white, wandering the fifth floor and the hallways. Room 501 is said to be the most haunted room in the entire Hotel Galvez. Visitors who spent the night at the room reported several unexplainable events including doors slamming shut, sweeping voices, and lights turning on and off on its own.
During the renovations of the hotel, many construction workers feared to work in room 501. They claimed to feel that something was staring at them, even though there were no one else other than the workers.
The Haunted 5th Floor
Apart from the haunted room 501, the 5th floor is rumored to be haunted by a nun named Sister Katherine.
The story speaks of the St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum which was run by Sister Katherine and other members of the Sisters of Charity. During the deadly hurricane in 1900, Sister Katerine tied ropes to the children before attaching the end of the line to the sisters, hoping that they can weather the storm together.
Unfortunately, the orphanage was destroyed by the storm, nor were the nuns and orphans able to escape to safety. In total, ninety orphan and over a dozen nuns lost their lives in the storm.
In fact, it is said that the ropes were the cause of death as some of the children were found with strangling wound around the neck.
Due to the large number of lives lost during the storm, some believes that their bodies were hastily buried along the beach, underneath where Hotel Galvez stands today.
Guests staying in the hotel reported seeing children in wet clothing running along the corridors of the hotel. Sounds of their laughter can also be heard in the lobby during the middle of the night, prompting some to believe that they are the spirits of the orphans who were killed during the Hurricane of 1900.
Several guests and staff have also seen a young girl bouncing a red ball along the hotel hallways. The ball however, does not make a sound when it bounces off the hard floor. However, it is unknown if the young girl was a casualty of the 1900 hurricane.
Ghostly Painting of Bernardo de Galvez
The portrait of Bernardo de Galvez was supposedly hung on the lobby of the hotel since its opening in 1911.
The tale goes that the unusually white eyes of Bernado would follow the guess as they walk pass the painting. As more reports about the ghostly experiences, the painting gained popularity. Many would attempt to take a photograph of the artwork, only to discover a skull-shaped reflection replacing the face when they review the images.
Staffs of the hotel maintain that this eerie phenomenon can be avoided if guests courteously ask the painting for permission before taking the photograph.
The painting can now be found on the second floor, facing the hotel’s main lobby.
Directions to Hotel Galvez
The address of Hotel Galvez is 2024 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77550, United States.
To visit Hotel Galvez, head towards Seawall Boulevard. Once you’re on Seawall Boulevard, look for the grand structure of Hotel Galvez, which is situated at 2024 Seawall Blvd.
The hotel, which is in a coat of bright pink paint, can be easily spotted along the boulevard. Upon arrival, you’ll find ample parking space to accommodate guests. The majestic facade of the hotel will greet you, setting the stage for your experience at this historic and possibly haunted establishment.