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Case Review – The Menger Hotel – San Antonio, Texas

By: Shawn Blaschka


          I recently visited San Antonio Texas with my family and had the fortunate opportunity to see one of San Antonio’s most haunted sites, “The Menger Hotel”.  The Menger has been featured in several paranormal programs and articles throughout the years.  The hotel is located directly next to the historic Alamo and is built on the grounds and foundations of the old fort.  In February of 1836 the Alamo was attacked and history records that it was a site of mass death during that fateful battle.  It only makes sense that these unfortunate souls that died violently are still lingering behind in the same area they defended so many years ago.  I would like to share with you my findings of interest at the Menger but first some history and explanation of the haunting.

          The site of the hotel dates back to the 1720’s when the present Fort Alamo was named Mission San Antonio de Valero which was first being built.  In 1793 the site was occupied by the Spanish and the land distributed to the Indian residents.  By the early 1800’s the Spanish military stationed a Calvary on site and set up what would be the first hospital in Texas.  It was at this time that the fort was first referred to as the Alamo.  In 1835 during the Texas revolution the fort was taken by the American resistance and occupied.  On February 23, 1836 the Alamo was attacked by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his army.  The defenders of the fort held it for a total of 13 days.  As many as 200 men from the Alamo alone died in that battle.

Around 1857 William A. Menger, who was a prominent resident of the San Antonio area, began construction of a two story, 50 room hotel which became the Menger Hotel.  The hotel opened its doors for business in May of 1859 only 23 years after the battle of the Alamo.  In March of 1871 William Menger died and the hotel continued to be managed by his wife Mary.  In 1881 the Menger family sold the hotel to Major J.H. Kampmann.  During the years of 1881, 1887, 1897, 1899 the hotel had several additions added to the original building.  In 1909 the interior and exterior of the Menger was extensively remodeled by noted architect, Alfred Giles.  Again in 1912 a 30 room addition was added as well as remodeling completed in the dining area.  In 1943 the hotel was sold to W.L. Moody Jr. with additions again to the hotel in 1949, 1953, 1967 and 1988.  In 1992 the entire 1859 section of the hotel went through extensive restoration.  The hotel has been host to many prominent and famous guests throughout its long history.  Theodore Roosevelt, Oscar Wilde, Babe Ruth, General Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are just a few of the notables.  The Menger continues to operate today and is the oldest continually operated hotel west of the Mississippi.     

          The hotel is purported to be haunted by several ghosts, in fact it has been reported to me that up to 32 separate apparitions have been seen in all areas of the hotel.  Cold breezes, cold spots, apparitions, kitchen utensils that transport themselves unaided, footsteps and lights being turning on and off by unseen hands.  Many unexplainable events have occurred with various guests to the hotel.  Listed below are a few examples of those events explained to me by hotel staff.

          * A large amount of the apparitions are seen in the oldest section of the hotel.  The 2nd and 3rd floors especially, however their have been sightings throughout the hotel as well.

          * A guest of the hotel who stayed near rooms 2005 thru 2008 reported to staff that she had heard the sounds of a woman moaning in agony near the stairway area.  The moaning went on for almost 30 minutes, then ceased.  The area that this was heard in was the exact spot were Sallie White; a former hotel maid was murdered by her husband in March of 1876.  Sallies apparition has been seen by many throughout the years late at night.  Usually she is seen walking the hallways with towels in her hands, wearing a long gray skirt with a bandana around her forehead.  Shortly after seeing her she is described as vanishing away.

          * A former frequent guest to the Menger was Captain Richard King.  Captain King was a cattle baron and actually died at the Menger in 1885.  His apparition is seen exiting through a wall from the room he frequented in life.  The wall he walks through was a door in King’s day.

          * A recent guest to the hotel entered an elevator and was greeted by a man in a dark suit.  The guest asked if the man was going to the same floor but received no response back.  When the guest looked over to the man he had disappeared. 

          * Another story speaks of a guest exiting his shower only to be surprised to see a man dressed in leather buckskins and grey trousers.  The man or “apparition” is seen talking to someone else in the room that can not be seen.  The apparition asks, “Are you gonna stay or are you gonna go”.  

          * An apparition of an old lady is seen in the original lobby of the hotel.  The woman appears to be in period dress.  When employees have seen her they ask if she is comfortable or if they could get something for her?  The woman sharply states, “No” and then disappears. 

          * The original owner and builder of the hotel is said to have died at the Menger in 1871.  His apparition has been seen in the hotel over the years.

          I had the opportunity to investigate the hotel on May 4th and 5th , 2006.  I conducted my study during the hours of 10:00PM to 2:30AM.  I used only a few items of equipment due to me being the only person investigating the site.  During my stay I was located in room #4023 in the original old section of the hotel.  Nothing paranormal was noted in my room.  I took several readings throughout the building with an EMF meter.  I did not encounter any unusual readings anywhere in the hotel.  Most areas had readings between .05 – 2.0 milligauss.  All of the readings were static in nature and not considered paranormal.  Also several hours of EVP (electronic voice phenomena) was conducted in all areas of the hotel on both evenings.  Review of the tape produced two anomalies.  During one recording completed on the 2nd floor stairway were Sallie White was murdered in 1876 I asked Sallie to give me a sign of her presence.  One of the suggestions I gave was to do something to my tape recorder.  Within seconds after asking the question, my tape recorder recorded massive interference on the tape.  The sound produced on the tape was not audibly heard by me.  The second EVP anomaly was captured while completing my vigil of all the hallways in the hotel.  During that recording a short giggle or laugh can be heard followed by a noise that sounds like a single dog bark.  Again none of these sounds were audibly heard. One roll of 35mm – 400 speed film was shot in all areas of the hotel.  Several photos were taken with a digital camera of the same areas photographed with the 35 MM camera.  This allowed for a control between the two to exist for comparison later.  The results of the film showed three anomalies.  The three photographs seem to show what appears to be a human like shape in them.  Some of the shapes are transparent were others are solid, dark and actually block the view of the background behind them.  The photos are posted with this report for you to review.  None of the anomalies that were found on the 35MM film were found on the digital photos.  In closing, I found the investigation of the Menger Hotel both interesting and entertaining.  Given the photographic anomalies that were captured I would have to say that the Menger truly has paranormal activity present.  I do recommend anyone with an interest in history or the paranormal, consider visiting San Antonio Texas and its surrounding area.  If you decide to stay a night in search of ghostly phenomena I recommend that you talk with Ernesto Malacara, the hotels Public Relations Director.  Ernesto has all the information about the hotels many haunts.  For more information on the Menger Hotel you can view their website at www.historicmenger.com.  

                                          PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SHAWN BLASCHKA




 *Any use or reproduction of this documentation is prohibited without the sole permission of Shawn Blaschka.