Instead of buying tickets to visit your local fire department's "haunted house" this Halloween, why not get a real scare on instead? Houston is chock full of old buildings and burial grounds—turned into libraries or apartment buildings—where visitors encounter regular ghost sightings. When you belly up to the bar at The Brewery Tap in downtown Houston, don't be surprised if on the barstool next to you sits an apparition. Or, a drive-by The Wunsche Brother's Cafe building might give you a peek at Charlie, the deceased owner, on the cafe's balcony. If you're looking for a way to take All Hallows' Eve up a notch, late night ventures to some of Houston's scariest places will deliver.
Julia Ideson Building
Named one of "Houston's Top 10 Tourist Attractions" by The Houston Press, the Julia Ideson Building—now Houston Public Library's downtown branch—boasts Spanish Renaissance-style architecture, complete with exquisite courtyards. While scary this is not, some say the Ideson building houses the ghost of Jacob Cramer and his canine companion. Cramer, the building's former live-in janitor and a violinist, died in his basement quarters in 1936. Today, his ghost—and the ghost of his dog, Petey—are said to haunt the building. Don't be surprised if, upon your visit, you hear violin music playing in the background. And listen carefully for the sound of a dog's nails clicking against the marble floors. Both ghostly experiences have been reported by visitors.
Jefferson Davis Hospital
The Jefferson Davis Hospital, built in 1924, serves as both a landmark to the city of Houston and also as one of the most haunted buildings in America. Built atop a burial grounds for Confederate soldiers, slaves, and city leaders, this hospital sits eerily along the Buffalo Bayou near White Oak Drive in The Heights, Houston's oldest planned community. Since its inception, the building has served many functions, including a psychiatric hospital which officially closed in 1939. Today, the building acts as the Elder Street Artist Lofts, a subsidized housing project aimed to help artists "live out their dreams." Before its renovation, the building stood vacant for decades when brave passersby would sneak in to hear the ghostly voices of soldiers, nurses, and psychiatric patients.
The Brewery Tap
This nearly ancient bar in Houston's Historic District houses one of the largest on-tap beer selections in the city. Located in the historic Magnolia Building, it is also the rumored home of "William," a gregarious ghost who was killed in the 1920s when a large stack of barrels fell on top of him while working at Houston Ice & Brewing Company. William, and other unnamed ghosts, like to converse with bar patrons from time to time. If you visit this building and make your way up to the bar, notice any paranormal energy or unusual electromagnetic fields, as some patrons have actual photographs of orbs and ghostly images of men dressed in 1940s attire.
The Spaghetti Warehouse
One of the most haunted places in downtown Houston (as well as a popular stop along the city's "haunted" walking tour), the Spaghetti Warehouse once housed a pharmaceutical company. This building—apparently haunted for decades—has a story that links back to when a distracted young pharmacist suffered a fatal fall down a dark elevator shaft. His wife's death followed shortly after and, allegedly, led to the building's haunting. Employees and customers have experienced the two mourning souls through encounters with floating objects, vibrating salt shakers, and a feeling of cold spots in rooms and moist breezes in bathroom stalls. Some even claim that their hair was tugged or their shoulders tapped when no one was nearby.
Founders Memorial Park
Founders Memorial Park (formerly Mt. Olive Cemetery) may seem like a natural stop for ghost hunters, as most cemeteries possess a sense of eeriness. But this particular cemetery houses over 800 bodies of cholera victims—making it extra spooky—as well as many prominent Houston figures. The city's co-founder, the mother of the Republic of Texas' President Mirabeau B. Lamar, and one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence are all buried at this site. Full-bodied ghosts are said to be walking the premises at night and visitors claim to see the visible face of Robert Barr on his grave.
The Wunsche Brother's Cafe & Saloon
Throughout the years, the Wunsche Brothers building has worn many hats: a hotel, a rail station, a brothel, and, up until a devastating fire shut it down in 2015, a restaurant. This building claims the status of the first two-story building in the town's history, as well as one of the oldest remaining buildings in Old Town Spring. Legend has it that part-owner Charlie Wunsche, who was brutally jilted by his love interest, later returned to haunt the building and its visitors, keeping watch over his restaurant, his investment, and his staff. People report sightings of Charlie in his former hotel room and on the cafe's balcony. And he likes to play tricks on employees, like turning on the coffee maker and locking them out of the building.