Austin, Texas has many haunted museums and mansions but the Texas Governor’s House is one that stands out physically and by its haunted history. A large white house with contrasting black window shutters, the Governor’s House was built in 1854. The early, eventful years of the house left an indelible mark that still resonates today. Stories of murderous lovers, a suicide, and a phantom Governor who won’t stop visiting his old residence.
No Expense Spared
An architect by the name of Abner Hugh Cook can be credited with the task. With a Greek style, the mansion is home to an extremely large painting, elegant yet dramatic chandeliers, and woodwork that has been developed with only the best carpentry skills.
In the immaculately manicured garden stands a water fountain that is surrounded by chic, ornamental furniture. The interior design of the property includes matching drapes and furniture upholstery that incorporates a damask pattern. No expense was spared in the creation of this building. This was confirmed by the inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and named as a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
When the mansion was built it spanned over 6,000 square feet. As if this was not big enough, a remodel in 1914 added another 1,920 square feet. This remodel increased the bedrooms from 11 when originally built to 25 and the bathrooms from non-existent to 7. It is placed in the center of a large square in Texas, hidden by large trees and beautiful gardens, making the building an image of pride and privilege. The mansion has been the home to Texas governors and their families for over 160 years. Several of these residents are unprepared to leave.
The Governor’s Mansion Campfire Tale
According to locals, when the house was built there was a young Texas scout who fell in love with a Camanche girl. The families were not happy about the couple and attempted to keep them apart so the lovers would meet secretly, sneaking around on the grounds. One night, the girl’s father caught the couple together and was so angry with the scout that he killed him. It is said that the girl was so upset at the thought of leaving her lover that she stabbed herself in the heart while stood over him.
Between 1863 and 1865 Pendleton Murrah became the Governor of Texas and therefore moved into the property. During his term at the Governor’s Mansion Pendleton’s nephew came to stay. At the same time, Pendleton’s wife had her niece staying as well. It is said that the nephew fell in love with his cousin swiftly but the feelings were not returned. Proposing to the girl on the very next day, he was distraught when he was rejected. That night, it is narrated that a gunshot was heard. On investigation, the staff found his body laying on the bed with a gunshot to the head having taken his life.
In 2008 a Molotov cocktail was thrown through one of the windows in the house which led to severe damage. A full team of preservationists was sent in to restore it to its previous elegance and the mansion continues to house the Governors of Texas once they have been elected.
Ghosts of the Texas Governor’s Mansion
There have been scores of people who have witnessed the paranormal events of the Governor’s Mansion, including politicians during their terms in office.
The nephew of Governor Pendleton seems to be making the most noise as staff have begun to avoid the bedroom at all costs. Many who enter or walk by hearing the sobbing moans of the heartbroken man, muddled echoes, and footsteps pacing behind the door. It is understood that the nephew creates such loud bangs that Governor Andrew Hamilton had the door sealed. This was unsealed again during the 20th century. Residents and visitors have also observed a boy screaming in the window, with his mouth open.
His uncle Pendleton Murrah is said to stalk the property too, both inside and outside, he will appear as a fully formed apparition.
Others have glimpsed the young scout and his girl wandering the grounds, holding hands. According to legend, they remain together in their favorite place, for eternity.
The ghosts do not stop there; during the 1980’s Governor Mark White and his wife were in residence at the mansion. The wife saw that the light above Sam Houston’s portrait had been turned on. Even though she switched it off, it was back on the next day. This on and off competition continued throughout their term.
Governor Sam Houston has made his presence known in other ways as well. In one of the bedrooms, his full-bodied apparition has been spotted on several occasions.
Another testimony is that of a maid who is seen crying at the front door. According to folklore, it is a staff member who was dismissed from employment because she became pregnant while unmarried.
With the rattling sounds of doorknobs, cold spots located in varying places throughout the property, and the feeling of dread that fills many people at times, it is obvious that not all of the people who have visited the mansion have left.