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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Visiting the Texas State Capitol

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- One of the places I have been overdue visiting during the nearly five years I have lived in Texas is the state capitol building, which I had the opportunity to do on Tuesday, February 25, along with a group of students from the Fischer Schule Haus charter school in nearby Fischer, Texas. It is one of the last few sites I needed to personally visit for purposes of doing research for my current book project, Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country

Located in downtown Austin, it contains the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor and is the fourth building to house the state government. Originally designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, it was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay WalkerThe building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. It is 308 feet tall, making it the sixth tallest state capitol and one of several taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. It includes a large underground extension that was completed in 1993






Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Exploring the Grimm History of San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- Had a great time with Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours and guide Allison Schiess on Saturday, January 25, visiting haunted places downtown in the Alamo City! About half of them were places that I have investigated previously in the course of my research for Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country, the title I am currently working on for the America's Haunted Road Trip series of travel guides. A number of the sites were completely new to me, however, and I learned a number of interesting things about all of the ones we visited. 

We kicked off the evening by enjoying a great steak dinner with our guide and fellow tour goers in the elegant formal dining room of the famous and very haunted Menger Hotel. We then proceeded to explore the haunted histories of it and several other sites, including the Alamo, Casino Club Building, Cathedral of San Fernando, Spanish Governor's Palace, and old Bexar County Jail. 

Above left, Allison set the tone for the tour by being attired in authentic 19th century garb. Above center, Diane Varhola checks out the spot on the outer wall of the Roy Rogers Suite that was once used to give fodder to Rogers' horse Trigger! Above right, the original bedstead in the King Ranch Suite where Captain King died and around which his spirit is sometimes seen. 

Above one of the sumptuous lobbies of the Menger Hotel, as viewed from the third floor. Above right, I have no idea what is causing this particular anomaly, but am well aware that a heavy spiritual presence can wreak havoc on electronic devices. 

Above left, this particular photographic anomaly caught me eye because it affected only Allison -- clearly a spiritual magnet of some sort -- and not our two friends from Canada or anything else! Above right, a view of the Riverwalk in which can be seen a couple of orbs, one left and the other above of center. 

Above left, outside the Casino Club Building, a historic structure now used for private apartments that has any number of ghosts sharing space with its living residents. Above center, a statue associated with the old Aztec Theater -- I have no reason to think it is haunted but think it would be cool if it was! Above right, front of San Fernando Cathedral, built in the 1700s by Canary Islanders and today the oldest continuously-operating cathedral in North America. 

Above left and center, the exterior of the 18th century Spanish Governor's Palace, once the seat of government for San Antonio and a bastion against Comanche and Apache raiders. Above right, the old Bexar County Jail, which now houses visitors to the city in the guise of a Holiday Inn Express! It remains haunted by the spirits of men executed on its third floor. 

All in all, we had a great, informative, and sometimes spooky evening with Allison and Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours! Anyone interested in learning more about the sites we visited should do the same and check out grim sister Lauren Swartz's terrific Haunted History of Old San Antonio (and, of course, my own book when it comes out in October).