Ghostly Overnights in Dallas

Portion of a panoramic photo with wide streets and the ornamental Hotel Adolphus towering many stories above the nearby buildings.
In this 1913 photo of the Dallas skyline, the new Hotel Adolphus rises above the rest of the city. Photo in the public domain.

If you’re one of that strange breed who loves a case of the paranormal shivers, look no further than the Hotel Lawrence for accommodations in Dallas. The hotel was built in 1925, and while it now serves as an affordable boutique hotel, it has a deliciously creepy pedigree.

For one thing, the basement once held a seedy underbelly of illegal gambling (many ghost hunters there today use poker chips to tempt the possible spirits to make themselves known). Hotel employees to this day report strange goings-on in the former casino—laundry baskets moving themselves, lights going on and off, electrical devices ceasing to work.

But the real spooky high jinks can be found on the 10th floor. Legend has it this is where a young woman fell—or jumped—to her death from the Presidential suite sometime during the 1940s. Alternate stories claim it was a man who fell—or jumped—and some even say that he was a congressman.

Well, no matter who fell or jumped, some odd stuff happens on the 10th floor now. This is where staff members have repeatedly report feeling “cold spots,” and hotel patrons swear they’ve seen someone walking around who disappears into the night air. People also report hearing footsteps and a woman’s voice at odd hours of the early morning. The most striking ghostly activity, however, has occurred when staff and guests have tried to open doors to no avail. Folks who have encountered this phenomenon swear it feels as if someone is holding the knob from the other side.

A stuck doorknob proves a subtle haunting, however, in comparison to the ghostly hubbub at the Hotel Adolphus, just a few blocks down the road from the Lawrence. The Adolphus is known as one of the most refined, fanciest hotels in the country, and this was true in the early 20th century, too, when the 19th floor ballroom hosted big band shows and parties. Descriptions of the ballroom sound similar to the one from the movie The Shining: It was glamorous, filled with champagne-swilling revelers in black-tie splendor dancing the night away.

To this day, graveyard shift desk attendants at the Adolphus receive calls from 19th-floor guests, complaining about hearing the music drifting in from the ballroom. The thing is, that ballroom has been abandoned for decades. Maybe the band plays to entertain the spirit of a longtime guest who still is sighted taking her usual seat at the hotel’s Bistro. Or maybe it’s the jilted bride who has spooked more than one hotel guest.

While the stately Adolphus keeps the ghostly fuss to a minimum, a nonprofit group called the DFW Ghost Hunters has been hot on the Hotel Lawrence case for some time now. The group even holds its annual Halloween conference at the Lawrence, and the public is welcome to join in for a $25 fee. The conference begins in the evening, with speakers and lecturers, followed by the midnight ghost hunt. The kindly hotel even offers half-off lodging specials for conference participants, in case you want to spend the night. Not that you’ll be getting any sleep, mind you.

Travel map of the Vicinity of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas
Vicinity of Dallas and Fort Worth

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