There’s no shortage of spooky tours on the island
Galveston’s official population hovers around 50,000, but not all the island’s residents are counted in the U.S. Census.
They appear as pale figures dressed in Victorian garb near the Menard House, 1605 33rd St., or as orbs in dark corners of The Strand’s brick buildings. They move furniture and flip light switches while the living watch in fear and awe.
Spirit sightings are reported all year long on the island — why else would the concierge of Hotel Galvez keep a stock of electromagnetic field detectors for ghost hunting behind the desk?
It’s the season of ghost tours and events on Galveston Island, so join if you dare.
Broadway Cemetery Tour
Marked by ornate headstones and mausoleums, there’s a haunting beauty behind the gates of Galveston’s Broadway Cemetery. Beginning in 1839 with the donation of four square blocks of land, the grouping of cemeteries on the central boulevard of Galveston has grown to include seven separate cemeteries containing the remains of notable islanders such as Michel Menard, George Sealy and James Moreau Brown. Join the tour, as spirits come to life through stories about Galveston’s most prominent residents in close proximity to their final resting places.
$15; Tours held at 9 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Oct. 15, Broadway Cemetery, 3900 Broadway, Galveston, galvestonhistory.org
Haunted Harbor Tours
Before vessels of immigrants found the shores of America through Galveston’s harbor, it was the paddling ground of Jean Laffite, one of the first Europeans to call the island home. The pre-eminent pirate’s spirit is still said to preside over the patch of Galveston Bay he occupied about 200 years ago. But that’s only part of the mystical tale woven aboard the Seagull II, a 50-foot boat that takes passengers on a cruise of the harbor’s creepiest corners.
Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29, $20 for adults, $17 for youth ages 6 to 18 and free for children ages 5 and younger, Texas Seaport Museum, 2200 Harborside Drive, Galveston, 409.765.8687, galvestonhistory.org
Lanternlight Tours of The 1892 Bishop’s Palace
As night falls over Galveston and 14th Street is shrouded in darkness, join groups of guests being guided through the 1892 Bishop’s Palace by lantern light. Just don’t make yourself too much at home — it’s rumored that Col. Walter Gresham, who built the palatial home for his family, is still keeping watch, patrolling the grounds for trespassers.
Tours held at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 28-29, $30, 1402 Broadway, Galveston, 409.765.7834, galvestonhistory.org
Hotel Galvez Ghost Tour Dinners
Celebrity sightings were once common at the Hotel Galvez during the roaring mid-century. Once a favorite haunt of Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and Howard Hughes, these days the hotel is better known for a different kind of sighting — the spirit of a woman named Audra. As the story goes, Audra was engaged to a sailor and, while he was at sea, would go to a room on the fifth floor, eyeing the stormy horizon as she waited for his return. When a strong storm struck, so did tragedy, as the ship was ripped to pieces. Though her sailor would return safely a few days later, it was too late for Audra, who hanged herself in despair. This is one of the legends explored on the Hotel Galvez’s haunted history tour. To steady your nerves beforehand, order a lemony-sweet Ghost Bride cocktail, named for the tragic heroine of the fifth floor.
$56, includes dinner at the Galvez Bar & Grill after the tour; 2024 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 409.765.7721, hotelgalvez.com
Ghost Tours of Galveston
Dash Beardsley, a nationally recognized aficionado of the spirit world, began mystifying locals and visitors alike when he started Ghost Tours of Galveston more than two decades ago. Over the years, four tours have become the cornerstones of Beardsley’s business, covering different parts of Galveston’s ghostly lore. The Original Ghost Tour on The Strand takes groups around the historic district, as they learn about Galveston’s haunting history. Its sequel, the Restless Spirits Tour, is slightly darker than the original and focuses on recent reports of paranormal activity in the area. The Secret Society Cemetery Tour ventures onto the hallowed ground of Old City Cemetery, which houses the remains of Civil War soldiers, victims of the 1900 Storm and others who met untimely deaths in Galveston. The Jack the Ripper Mystery Island Tour explores Galveston’s most notorious unsolved mysteries and offers compelling evidence that the demon of Whitechapel might have ventured across the Atlantic to conduct ugly deeds on the island.
123 25th St., Galveston, 832.892.7419, ghosttoursofgalvestonisland.com
Ghost Tours at the 1859 Ashton Villa
The United States was at the doorstep of great conflict in 1859 as James Moreau Brown moved his family into Ashton Villa. A few years later, when the Civil War had come to a boil, the first of Galveston’s Broadway mansions became a local headquarters for Union troops. Later, the Italianate mansion’s strong brick walls protected the Brown family and friends during the 1900 Storm as water crept up to the 10th step of its grand staircase. Ashton Villa’s long and colorful history makes it prime territory for paranormal activity. In late October, tour guides deviate from their normal historical repertoire to focus on the exceptional life and possible afterlife of one of the home’s most scandalous residents. Miss Bettie Brown is said to still be making her presence known almost 100 years after her death. As you walk through the house and hear its story, listen closely for the ghostly tinkle of piano keys, which could mean you’ve met the spirit of Miss Bettie’s younger sister, Matilda.
Tours held at 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Oct. 27-31, $30, 2328 Broadway, Galveston, 409.765.7834, galvestonhistory.org
Séance at the 1838 Menard House
Near All Hallow’s Eve, perhaps the best tour guide of Galveston’s oldest residence isn’t a historian, but a spirit medium. Island psychic Sharon Michelle, who started using her many gifts more than 40 years ago, will guide a group of 12 guests through the macabre realms of the 1838 Menard House.
9 p.m. Oct. 29, $150, 1605 33rd St., Galveston, 409.765.7834,
The Haunted Legends Tour by SegCity
If ghost tours aren’t adrenaline-inducing enough, embark on a haunted tour via Segway. Spend an hour and a half perusing some of the city’s most noted — and notoriously haunted — historic sites along The Strand and Postoffice Street downtown.
$79, 519 25th St., Galveston, 409.762.2255, segcity.com/galveston
Haunted Mayfield Manor
If you’re playing a game of giant chess in Saengerfest Park in downtown Galveston, you might detect faint howls coming from the 1885 Butterowe Building, which houses Haunted Mayfield Manor. With consultation from renowned haunted house designer Leonard Pickel, owner Joyce McLean dreamed up an experience based on the story of Dr. Horace Mayfield, a physician who supervised a makeshift morgue after the 1900 Storm. Though the story is fictional, characters in the frightening tale, portrayed by talented local actors, create a genuinely spooky ambience in the 12-room Mayfield Manor.
$10, 2313 Harborside Drive, Galveston, 409.762.6677, hauntedmayfieldmanor.com