Thursday, October 22, 2009
The Haunted Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia
Last August my husband and I drove to middle Georgia where he was attending a sports event. I dropped him off and kept on driving to Americus in Sumter County which is about 116 miles (187 kms) south of Atlanta. We had made reservations at the Windsor Hotel there. This hotel was originally built in 1892 for rich northerners escaping the winter cold.
In 1991 a total of $8 million dollars was invested to restore it authentically. This is an eclectic Victorian hotel with a landmark tower, balconies and an unusual array of window styles. The five-story Queen Anne castle-like structure covers almost a full block of downtown Americus.
Big Ben Ghost Trackers, a north Florida paranormal group. Their report on the Windsor Hotel, which you can read here, states that based on their investigation they can certify that this hotel is haunted indeed. It seems that in the early 1900s a little girl and her mother who lived in the hotel - as the head housekeeper - were murdered when they were both pushed down the elevator well. Their ghosts still haunt the hotel. Staff and guests have seen the reflection of the woman in a long black gown in a mirror in the hall of the third floor. I went up to the third floor that afternoon, all was quiet and I did not feel nor see anyone.
The kitchen staff has also reported that late at night they have seen pots and pans flying around or are misplaced while the radio is turned on and off mysteriously. Another spirit reported to haunt the hotel is a faithful doorman named Floyd Lowery who worked at the hotel for 40 years.
As I entered the lobby I really felt like I had entered another time of genteel southern elegance. A three-story atrium greets you with balconies, palms, antique chandeliers and comfortable furniture. I loved the original antique golden oak and marble floor.
There are 53 period-style guest rooms with 12-foot ceilings, ceiling fans and plantations shutters. We had a standard guest room. It looked better than in my picture below –
All the guest rooms are individually appointed so that no two rooms are the same. It is rumored than John Dillinger and Al Capone, the famous gangsters, spent the night in what is now the Bridal Suite and had armed bodyguards posted at the bottom of the stairs. The Presidential suite was renamed in honor of President Jimmy Carter who is a native of Sumter County and lives in Plains, about 10 miles from Americus. The Roosevelt Boardroom is so named because Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech to the Chamber of Commerce in the adjoining balcony in February 1928 – when he was Governor of New York. The hotel itself was named after John T. Windsor, a leader in Americus in the 1880s. You can read more on the history of the Windsor Hotel here.
It was a warm Friday afternoon with few guests in the hotel so I inspected it well, with my camera. I checked the veranda where wicker chairs were inviting me to sit down and relax. I thought it would be better to come back at dusk with a mint-julep or early in the morning with a strong cup of coffee.
From the patio, close to the tower, I could see the other historical buildings facing the hotel.
Downstairs the mahogany phone booth and cozy parlor looked like they should be in an aristocratic hotel in England rather than in the peanut growing area of middle Georgia.
The dining room looked elegant and inviting -
On the second floor Rosalyn Carter’s Tea Parlor was closed unfortunately – I would have enjoyed a spot of tea there!
Leaving the hotel to take a stroll in town, I passed the 1921 Rylander Theatre where President Jimmy Carter, with 600 guests, celebrated his 85th birthday on 27 September 2009. Passing by the theatre I saw the imprints of President Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter’s hands in cement on the sidewalk.
Americus is also the home of Habitat for Humanity International which is a charitable organization working to eliminate housing poverty around the world. They renovate, repair and make housing for disadvantage families. They have a global village in Americus where you can visit life size Habitat houses from around the world but I did not have time to visit it as it was getting dark, so after a quick picture of an historical marker it was time to go and pick up my husband then drive back to the Windsor Hotel.
The next day we visited the small town of Plains where Jimmy Carter grew up and still lives. But that visit will be recounted in a future post.