History of the Adolphus Hotel
The Adolphus Hotel was the dream of Adolphus Busch. He was a German immigrant and founder of the renown Busch Beer Company. Busch seemed to have a passion for hotels and already owned the Oriental Hotel which was built in 1892 and situated on the southeast corner streets of Commerce and Akard. In 1910, Dallas was booming and the newly burgeoning city wanted a new City Hall and a new grand hotel to represent their expansion. The city leaders decided to talk to Busch about the creation of a new luxury hotel on the site of the old City Hall. Adolphus Busch agreed and shortly announced plans to build a $1 million hotel at the opposite corners of Commerce and Akard. Later that year, in 1910, the demolition of the old city hall and the construction of the new hotel was started.
Adolphus Busch hired Barnett, Haynes, & Barnett of St. Louis to design the luxurious new building. After some brainwork and architectural discussion a fantastic masterpiece was designed. The baroque beauty that was created was unlike any other building standing in what was then a rather unsophisticated downtown Dallas, Texas. The plan had originally been to call this fantastic new hotel the New Oriental, but it was decided to name the new hotel in honor of the owner, Adolphus Busch. Thus the Adolphus was born.
During the Roaring Twenties, the Adolphus would be the place to be. Made of velvety-looking red brick and gray Bedford stone, the Adolphus was to be twenty stories tall and designed in the Louis XIV style. The first floor of this sumptuous hotel was clothed in gorgeous red granite. The upper part of the building was richly designed with a beautifully decorative cornice. At the top it was graced by an enormous attic and a lovely French mansard roof constructed of subtly multicolored slate. One corner of the roof sported a turret from which an American flag would be flown. Huge bronze figures taken from Roman mythology, which designated morning and evening, were placed above the fifteenth story level on the ledges.
The lobby was paneled in walnut wood from the Caucus Mountains and inlaid with gold. A massive dining area and ballroom, which was named the ‘Palm Garden’, crowned the top floor of the hotel. It sported a high domed ceiling with fabulous views of Dallas through the gigantic windows and, of course, had a special balcony for the orchestra. No expense was spared for the creation of this lavish new hotel. In the end, well over $1.5 million was spent and it opened in October of 1912.
When the Adolphus opened it was an overnight success and in 1916 it became clear that additional rooms were going to be needed. Construction was immediately started on a U-shaped annex to the western side of the original hotel. The new architecture was designed by Lang & Witchell and was a lovely match to the twelve story original tower. The new addition gave the expanded hotel well over five hundred new luxury rooms. The new annex featured a rooftop open-air restaurant, dubbed ‘Bambooland’, because it had been beautifully decorated with bamboo walls and Oriental furnishings. On New Year’s Day of 1918 the grand opening of the new annex of the Adolphus hotel took place. In 1924 another additional wing was needed and once again the Adolphus expanded, adding three hundred and twenty-five rooms. This gave the Adolphus over eight hundred and twenty five rooms! The beauty and lavishness of this hotel is world renown.
Over the years the Adolphus has been host to major stars of music and film and has hosted a fantastic array of first class entertainment. Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey all played at the Adolphus. The Adolphus has also been host to such famous people as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, President Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt, and Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and many others.
The Haunting of the Adolphus Hotel
In the historic Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Texas, there are things that go bump in the night. The front desk manager regularly gets calls from guests complaining of hearing conversations that are never loud enough to hear what is being said, but just loud enough to disturb their slumber. The desk manager states, “I’m always getting calls at night from people who say they hear someone walking up and down the hall, but the floors are carpeted and would not make the sound of footsteps echoing in the hallway.” Other times, the groggy guests call to complain about being kept awake by the steady tinkling of a distant piano. Oft times, many guests will complain about the loud Big Band/Swing music blasting down the hallway.
At one time, in the early years of the Adolphus, the 19th Floor was the ballroom level and that is where the majority of the reports come from. As always seems to be the case, when hotel security officers go to investigate the complaints, there is no one wandering up and down the hallway. Nor is there a piano player or swing band playing tunes from a bygone era. As a matter of fact, there hasn’t even been a ballroom for many decades. The ballroom in question was permanently sealed off during a reconstruction in 1979. The only way to the remnants of the ballroom is through a crawlspace behind a rather obscure door.
Since it was opened in 1912, the Hotel Adolphus has continually maintained an extremely high reputation for lavish and luxurious comfort and outstanding 5-star service. It is these things that keep customers coming back and, one assumes, why some customers never leave.
Over the nearly 100 years since the Adolphus Hotel opened, guests and employees alike have reported numerous instances of paranormal activity throughout the hotel. Many swear the ghosts of visitors from long ago, and who have apparently never left, are to blame. Many people who have stayed at the hotel swear they feel like someone is watching them. They hear doors opening and slamming shut. Many employees who work the aptly named “graveyard shift” say they feel someone following them around watching them as they collect room service carts but when they look around there is no one to be seen.
One such report of a haunting involves a woman who had been a regular customer in the Hotel’s bistro. During the weeks after the woman died employees swore the saw the woman coming in and sitting down at her favorite table that was near the front of the Bistro. Several housekeepers have claimed that an unseen guest would tap them on the shoulder while they were cleaning one of the hotel’s restrooms. Several hotel employees have reported different episodes of having windows flying open with a hard blast of icy cold air.
Then there is the most famous of the Hotel’s specters — a sad figure of a bride. It is said that back during the Depression Era of the 1930s, a young woman was jilted by her husband-to-be and left standing at the alter on her wedding day. When he never showed up for the wedding, she hung herself a mere few feet from where she had hoped to start her new life. She died abandoned and broken-hearted. She is said to haunt the 19th Floor of the hotel—forever searching for her lost love. Many guests say they hear the sobbing of a woman either in the room next to them or going down the hallway but there is never anyone found. Many people who have seen the apparition have sworn she has followed them to their destination and stays until either the party is over or they leave. Many people have reported that the soft and gentle melody of a music box plays continually while the melancholy bride is around.
Floor 19 of the Adolphus Hotel
On the 19th Floor of the famous Adolphus hotel there used to be a grand and luxurious ballroom known as the ‘Palm Garden’. During the year of 1979, the owners of the hotel undertook a great deal of reconstruction on the 19th Floor to create more guest rooms and forever seal off the once glamorous dance and dining room. However, it would seem the ballroom doesn’t stay quiet and patrons of the hotel’s past glamour days still dance and party in the now decrepit room.
Guests have repeatedly reported the sounds of footsteps echoing down the long, carpeted hallway of the 19th Floor. Strains of softly playing piano music fill the air on some nights preventing many of the guests from resting. On other nights the lobby get s irate phone calls from guests complaining about being woken up from a dead sleep by rather loud Big Band music. Many have reported the sounds of people talking and the clinking of glassware and dishes coming from the sealed off room that was once the Palm Garden ballroom.
The once opulent ballroom is now a mere shadow of its former glory. The hardwood floor is long gone and replaced with fluffy insulation. At the heart of the hotel is the yawning hole that was the dance and dining room that beheld such greats as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman of the Big Band Swing days. Now only accessible through a tiny crawl space that leads to a rather shaky, rickety catwalk, all the former glory of this once gorgeous place has been reduced to cobwebs, dust, rusty steel girder beams, and an unused marble staircase that leads nowhere. Yet it would seem that that the former guests of that long gone era are unaware of these changes and still continue to party on through the twilight hours of a time that has since past for the rest of the world.
Many experts on the paranormal would classify this as a residual haunting. A point in time that seems to have recorded itself on the very fabric of reality and replays itself over and over again — reliving the glory days of this once grand ballroom that was a favorite gathering place for so many of this country’s elite. In a residual haunting the people and actions of the past seem to be completely unaware of the present time frame; nor do the people in this loop seem to ever be aware of the existence of the observer. However, some people believe that it is more than a mere residual haunting and is what is known as an intelligent haunting. An intelligent haunting is a type of haunting where there seems to be an awareness on the part of the apparition(s). Some people who have heard these occurrences think that perhaps some of those who have since pasted from this dimension of existence still live in that point in time when they were most happy. That just maybe, they still enjoy the lavish beauty of the ballroom along with the sumptuous meals and the great entertainment of the day.
Whether it is a residual haunting or an intelligent haunting remains to seen; but whatever the case may be, one thing seem to be certain and that is that Floor 19 of this hotel is haunted by specters of the early glory days of the Adolphus.
Ghost Sightings at the Adolphus Hotel
Since its opening in the year 1912, the Adolphus hotel has maintained its reputation for lush and lavish comfort as well as excellent service. These are the things that keep customers returning time and again and perhaps the reasons why some have not left.
Myriads of the Hotel’s guests and employees alike have reported countless instances of unexplained activity in nearly every part of the building. They’ve also been rather reluctant to attribute these incidents to the ghosts or spirits of visitors from days past.
Louis Ford, a 16-year employee who is the supervisor of the hotel’s Bistro restaurant, says that people have mentioned to him that they feel like someone is watching them. They say they’ve hear doors slam, heard the sound of numerous people talking and footsteps echoing down halls that are now carpeted instead of still being the original hardwood floors of the early days of the hotel. Mr. Ford said that he also worked what is known as the ‘graveyard shift’ early on in his career at the Adolphus hotel. He said he had often felt he was not alone while he made the rounds to gather up the room service carts left outside of rooms late at night.
Dale Rust, who has been the bartender for many years at the Adolphus, says there is a rather playful spirit who routinely rearranges the beer bottles on display behind the counter. “The last bottle in the line up is always moved out of line”, Rust said. “Every time I’d put it back it would be moved out of place again.” He also mentioned that one particular spring marked a rather unusually busy period of strange activity.
Apparently after the death of a well-known and very frequent customer many employees reported that they regularly saw the image of the deceased woman coming in and sitting down at her favorite table toward the front of the Bistro. A housekeeper swore that an invisible guest would keep tapping her on the shoulder while she was cleaning one of the hotel’s many restrooms.
The most famous of the supernatural guests of the Adolphus is the specter of a sad woman in white. She is said to have been a bride who was spurned and left standing at the altar on her wedding day. “We’ve had so many people repeatedly say that they saw a young bride,” one employee by the name of Langley reported. According to the hotel history the grand ballroom known as the “Palm Garden” was the site for many musical concerts by the famous musicians of the day and the site for some of the most elegant and lavish weddings during the hotel’s very earliest years. But in the Depression Era of the 1930s, one young and beautiful bride’s dreams of a fairy-tale marriage in the grand hall were shattered when the man she was to marry abandoned her on the wedding day. The broken-hearted bride immediately hanged herself just a few feet from where she had hoped to start life anew with her handsome husband. Now, the sad and broken spirit of this bride is said to wander the halls of the 19th floor, sometimes appearing to unsuspecting hotel guests.
David Davis, who is the director of public relations for the Adolphus Hotel, says he has no idea if there really are ghosts roaming around the halls. However, he quite agrees that most of the guests and nearly all of the employees feel a very special connection to the hotel’s past. “Whatever that sense people get here when they enter the hotel, whatever sort of magic it seems to possess, it always draws a specific sort of guest and a specific sort of employee,” Davis said. “There is something very special about the Adolphus Hotel that draws people to it. It wants them to feel at home and like part of the family.”