The Haunted Texas Governor’s Mansion

1010 Colorado Street, Austin, TX 78701

This historical landmark has seen as many poltergeists as politicians. From former leaders to forbidden love, what’s haunting the Texas Governor’s Mansion?

Fast Facts

  • U. S. National Historic Landmark
  • Haunted by Governor Sam Houston
  • Fourth oldest residence to house Governors
  • Attacked by arsonists in 2008

Is the Texas Governor’s Mansion Haunted?

If you’re looking for ghosts, check out the Texas Governor’s Mansion. With full-bodied apparitions, phantom footsteps, and inexplicable sounds, this estate will keep you on your toes.

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Ghosts of the Texas Governor’s Mansion

The mansion’s oldest campfire tale dates back to its earliest days.

A young Texas Scout had fallen in love with a Comanche girl, but not everyone was keen on the young couple. Certainly not the girl's father, who was terrified the Texas Scout was stealing his daughter.

Forced to keep their relationship secret, the young couple would sneak around the grounds of the mansion together. This kept their affair well enough – until the girl's father caught them red-handed.

He approached the Texas Scout in a fit of rage. Rumor has it that he was so angry he killed his daughter's true love. Distraught, the girl stabbed herself in the heart.

She was so unwilling to return with her father that she took her life above her beloved's body.

The two poltergeists now prowl the grounds together, much as they did in life. Spectators spot them hand in hand, reunited forever in death.

The Governor’s Nephew

The property’s second poltergeist has a much less romantic backstory.

While Pendleton Murrah was Governor during The Civil War, the Governor's nephew had come to the mansion for a visit. Coincidentally, the Governor's Wife had her niece staying at the property, too.

Legend has it that the Governor's Nephew fell instantly for the niece. The niece enjoyed the boy's attention but felt nothing towards the poor lad.

Astoundingly, he proposed to the girl the next day. He watched in devastation while she rejected his advance.

His tragedy doesn't end there. A gunshot was heard emanating from the upstairs of the mansion later that night. A staff member who had cautiously entered the boy's bedroom discovered his lifeless body laid out on the bed.

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The Governor's Nephew had taken his life.

Since his melancholic suicide, staff members have avoided the boy's bedroom. Paranormal disturbances are regularly witnessed near the room, leading some to believe his spirit is trapped in the mansion forever.

The boy's sobbing moans are the most common activity, but muddled echoes and phantom footsteps are likewise overhead.

Those sensitive to residual energies claim he's most active on Sundays, the day he took his own life.

The Ghost of Sam Houston

Another haunted bedroom at the Governor's Mansion was once used by Governor Sam Houston. Some rumor that his ghost lingers there today, where he materializes as a full-bodied apparition.

The most famous encounter with Houston's poltergeist occurred in the 1980s when Governor Mark White returned to the mansion with his wife.

In the hallway outside their bedroom, Linda noticed that someone had left the light on above Governor Houston's portrait.

Thinking little of it, she switched it off and went to bed with her husband. The following morning she found someone had mysteriously switched it back on. Yet no one claimed to touch the switch.

This oddity recurred throughout the White’s Family’s stay at the Governor's Mansion. Does the Ghost of the Governor prefer his portraits well lit?

Other Ghostly Ongoings

Like his nephew's lost soul, Governor Murrah's poltergeist is said to stalk the mansion.

Spectators claim his fully-formed apparition looks similarly to Murrah, yet this poltergeist covers more ground. Not only is he seen within the estate, he's also seen near the surrounding property.

A second wandering spirit belongs to a former member of the staff. This long-rumored specter is spotted most frequently on the grounds.

Rumor has it that it’s a former unwed maid who became pregnant out of wedlock, yet was promptly dismissed upon the discovery of her situation. That could explain why she's seen near the mansion's entrance, where she begs for her job.

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The History of the Governor’s Mansion

Constructed in 1854, this historic home is considered by many to be the premier Governor’s Mansion. As the fourth oldest Governors’ residence in America, the estate has housed every Texas Governor for the last 160 years.

Building the Texas Governor’s Mansion

Prior to the construction of the Texas Governor’s Mansion, there were no permanent residences established for the state’s governor. In fact, the first four governors lived in boarding houses and hotels.

In February of 1848, the Texas Legislature authorized the use of public funds to annually lease a home for the governor. Just six years later, the legislature was called upon again. This time they were to approve the building of a designated home.

Self-taught architect Abner Hugh Cook was awarded the job of supervising the building of the Greek Revival mansion. In June of 1856, Elisha M. Pease moved into Texas’s first and only Governor’s Mansion.

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Mansion Becomes National Landmark

In the year of 1970, the Governor’s Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1974, the mansion became a U. S. National Historic Landmark.

Shenanigans at the Mansion

When James Stephen Hogg was elected in 1891, he and his family brought along extra additions. Dogs and cats, of course – exotic birds, sure.

Squirrels and raccoons? If you’re the Hogg family, then the answer is yes.

At any given moment, animals of all sorts could be found roaming the mansion. Joining the animals during these rolicking good times were Governors Hogg’s four children. Perhaps that explains a few of the stranger paranormal disturbances.

Walter Gresham, sitting in his library in Gresham’s Palace

The Governor’s Mansion Fire

On the 8th of June in 2008, the Governor's Mansion was vandalized by the hands of an arsonist. The home was set ablaze when the firebug launched a Molotov Cocktail at the historic landmark.

The mansion’s structure was so significantly damaged in the fire that a team of preservationists were brought in to ensure that the landmark would be properly restored.

While no one has been charged with the crime, it’s believed that the arsonist had ties to an anarchist group based in Austin. The group has been linked to similar arsonist attacks in the past.

Visiting the Texas Governor’s Mansion

If you are curious about visiting the haunted mansion, the historical landmark offers free tours. Since times and dates of availability are subject to change, visit their website before making plans.

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