San Antonio was once the location of some of the most bloody battles fought during the fight for Texas Independence during the mid-nineteenth century. And while large and small-scale businesses all over the city claim to be haunted by some of those long-ago Texian revolutionaries, no other hotel has quite the same ability to claim ownership to those restless spirits than the historic Crockett Hotel.
Seated adjacently to the haunted Alamo next to Alamo Plaza, the Crockett Hotel today boasts some of the finest luxuries in all of San Antonio. But over a century ago, the land on which the Crockett sits had a very different existence, one that spoke of pain, tragedy and death.
It is because of this very reason that the Crockett Hotel remains one of San Antonio’s most haunted hotels, where the ghosts still haunt its corridors . . . and refuse to relinquish the idea that there is still unfinished business to be settled.
For many years, the land on which the Crockett Hotel exists was nothing but farmland and pasture. At an even earlier time, the plot had first been settled by the Franciscan monks who’d arrived from Spain to colonize and spread the word of Roman Catholicism among the local Native American peoples.
But in 1836, things would forever change for the Texians, and also for what would later become the Crockett Hotel.
On March of 1836, the infamous Battle of the Alamo erupted between the Texian revolutionaries and the Mexican Army, which was led by the notorious pseudo-dictator, General Santa Ana. On the eve of the battle, it is said the the Mexican cavalry gathered in the area just across from the old mission, where the Alamo defenders were holed up in hopes of warding off their enemy.
On the morning of March 6th, the Mexican troops rallied into position and laid siege to the historic mission that the Franciscan monks had once called home. The legendary Davy Crockett was just one of 189 Texian defenders who supported a new independent republic, and who fought bravely in a battle that would claim their lives.
At the end of thirteen long days, every single Texian defender was killed at the hands of General Santa Ana’s men, though the Mexican Army’s number also dwindled under the heat of the fight.
Today, the Crockett Hotel’s swimming pool and patio area is believed to be the site where Davy Crockett and the other Texian revolutionaries took their last breath, as that was once the southeast palisade of the Alamo compound.
(Click here to read more about the Battle of the Alamo and the ghosts which still haunt the site).
It wasn’t until 1874 that the Crockett Hotel’s land was used for anything other than cows and farmland. French-born immigrant Augustese Honore Grenet had recently moved to San Antonio, and upon doing so, he decided to purchase the land. It was there that he constructed his general merchandise store.
The store prospered, thanks largely to the newly bustling economy that the city centre had to offer. Within the span of some twenty years, Alamo Plaza had seen the construction of the Menger Hotel (1859), St. Joseph’s Church (1868) and the old Federal Post Office (1877). Grenet could not have picked a better location for a general store.
In 1877, Grenet bought the Convento building (the old annex from the original Alamo compound) and the courtyard from the Catholic Church. He then utilized the newly purchased property to build a two-story museum, his general store and “three wooden towers housing false wooden cannons."
When the property sold in 1887, it continued to be a general store under the new ownership of G.B. Davis. And, until the turn of the twentieth century, the property operated as either a general store or a tavern, depending on its three subsequent owners.
(Records of any “notorious”—read: scandalous—events at the tavern weren't found, which was particularly upsetting to this author).
Things altered completely in 1907 when the San Antonio branch of the International Order of Odd Fellows purchased the land.
Though the fraternity dated back and found its origins in seventeenth-century England, the message throughout the years remained more or less the same: to help others who were less fortunate than yourself.
The Odd Fellows had a grand plan in buying the general store. First, they’d tear the existing building down to its very foundation. Then, they would hire an architect and builder to erect something new, something grander: a hotel.
Well, sort of.
As they’d intended, the building was to combine floors for guests (to always plump up their coffers) and then separate levels on the upper floors to be used by the fraternal lodge. In 1909, the hotel’s doors opened for business under the name the Crockett Hotel, in commemoration for the bear-brawling, Alamo-defending Davy Crockett himself.
Off the bat, business boomed. The first four floors were used to welcome guests, and the fifth and sixth floors were dedicated to the Order. Over the years, the success of the Crockett Hotel waned and increased. 1927 saw the addition of a seven-story west wing added to the main building. In 1968, in order to accommodate the World’s Fair, the Crockett underwent more major renovations.
But by 1978, the property had seen better days and was no longer the calling point for many who visited San Antonio. The International Order of Odd Fellows sold the property, as they’d decided to look elsewhere for a building that was more suitable to their needs.
The Odd Fellows had sold the hotel to an investor from British Columbia, but he, too, did not choose to keep the property for all too long. After only four years of ownership, the hotel once again changed hands. And when it did, it came back into the hands of a San Antonio native.
John Blocker with his wife, Jenne, spent the following years revitalizing the old Crockett Hotel. Jenne's sister had been directly involved with San Antonio’s Historic Preservation Society, which probably came in handy when it came time for their restoration efforts.
By looking at vintage photographs, the Blockers and the architects were able to peel back the layers of history. They uncovered the original brickwork, windows, and storefront facade. The cornices on the roof were freshened up, and even the lobby was glossed and restored to a spit-and-shine polish. The Blockers also added an atrium and additional guest rooms.
After John and Jenne Blocker purchased the property, the Crockett Hotel was lucky enough to receive a lot of recognition for its beauty and historic prestige. In 1982, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. More recently, the Crockett was honored to be considered one of the Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Another round of renovation occurred in 2007, when much of the area around the hotel’s pool area saw new additions. (That same pool area being the same place where the Alamo battle was fought).
Today, the Crockett Hotel offers its guests a contemporary blend of old-world and new. But as one might expect from its location on the old Alamo battlefield, ghosts and spirits abound at this historic hotel.
Whispers greet the staff and guests of the Crockett Hotel.
Not for a single moment do the staff believe the whispers to be a product of the living—but only the dead.
The Crockett Hotel is rumored to be haunted by the spirits of the Alamo defenders, of men who fought to their very last breath. Davy Crockett, even, is believed to be one of the ghosts roaming the halls of the Crockett. If there is any hotel in the city that might lay claim to having the notorious Davy Crockett haunt its ground, it’s certainly the hotel named in his honor.
It is believed that the spirits of the other Alamo defenders have never left their final resting place either: the unusual sounds of chanting linger in the hallways, only interspersed with the sounds of disembodied footsteps and clip-clop-clip-clop of horses’ hooves.
Are these paranormal occurrences the doings of the spirits of the Texian revolutionaries?
Others have reported hearing doors open and shut and, strangely enough, watching the front entrance’s sensor-operated doors slip open on their own accord. One worker at the Crockett Hotel recalled witnessing such a phenomenon when she was on duty at the front desk. In her own words, she felt as though something had stepped close to the entrance, triggering the sensors to open the front doors.
Except that not a single soul had stepped close—not anyone of the living variety, at least.
Translucent orbs have been caught on film, and guests frequently report feeling cold spots dance over their skin. The most supernaturally active places within the Crockett are generally considered to be the bar, lobby, guest rooms and executive offices—the latter of which are unfortunately off-limits to those staying at the hotel.
(Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not talking about past presidents here).
No, instead it seems that the spirit residing in the Crockett’s executive offices might be a residual energy from days gone by.
The executive offices overlook the swimming pool and patio, and stand in the exact place that General Santa Ana’s troops once waited to breech the fortified walls of the Alamo.
According to some employees of the hotel, the most haunted spots in the Crockett are the offices. Staff have witnessed the apparition of a man dressed in a dark blue jacket meandering outside toward the patio area. Over a century ago, that patio was once served as the spot for the tavern.
Those who have spotted the restless spirit have reported that he seems to be the result of residual energy. In the paranormal world, the theory of residual energy means that the particular ghost is unintelligent—or, better yet, unresponsive to the goings-on around it—and is instead repeating the same motions day in and day out for all of eternity.
Visiting paranormal investigators to the Crockett unearthed another spirit in the inner offices of the hotel. This one, they said, was shy and rather quiet in its demeanor and energy. More whispering was heard in that office, even when there was not a single soul around.
And at one point in time, the front desk manager looked up from her work, only to look across the courtyard and see the curtains of one of the guest rooms opening and shutting. The only problem was that she knew that those particular rooms were vacant, and with the windows drawn shut, the curtains should not have been moving at all.
It seems that the spirits at the Crockett enjoy playing games—that, or perhaps they can’t decide if they want some privacy in the afterlife.
For those who are visiting San Antonio and looking for a chance to experience paranormal activity, the Crockett Hotel might just be the place for you.
Quite honestly, there seems to be enough phenomena occurring throughout the hotel to keep your average paranormal enthusiast content throughout their stay. For example, camp out in the bar area. Often, items tend go flying off the bar top onto the floor by unseen forces. Or, take a ride in what the staff call, the Crockett’s haunted elevators.
Said elevators are known to skip past floors that guests have actually pushed the button for, or open and close without rhyme or reason. It was this exact particularity that led to the death of one of the Crockett’s housekeepers in 2011, when she backed into the elevator with her cart. The elevator had already ascended to the floors above, leaving the shoot treacherously empty when she stepped inside. Since then, the staff have refused to ride that elevator—and guests are certainly not allowed—but tests have shown that nothing at all was wrong with the any of the elevators at the Crockett.
At the Crockett Hotel, it can sometimes be uncertain which spirits are making themselves known, but simply that they are.
If you’re lucky, you’ll come across the ghost of Davy Crockett.
If you’re not, you might find yourself on the receiving end of items being chucked at you by a spirit that you cannot see down in the bar area.
Regardless of luck, you’ll be sure to experience some form of paranormal phenomenon at this haunted San Antonio hotel.