City Cast

This Downtown Houston Building Might Be Haunted

Brooke Lewis
Posted on October 31   |   Updated on November 1
The Rice lofts stretch into the evening sky in downtown Houston.

The Rice lofts occupy a historical stretch of Houston. (LiveTheRice/Instagram)

As you meander through downtown, you might pass The Rice lofts. These fancy apartments occupy a historical stretch of Houston with a haunted history. Let’s learn more.

The Early Years

John Kirby and Augustus Allen, who founded Houston in 1836, originally used a building on the property as the capitol building for the Texas legislature. After the capitol moved to Austin, the building was turned into a hotel. The first hotel on site was named the Capitol and remained active for decades until it was demolished in 1881. A new hotel building was constructed on the property.

The Golden Years

William Marsh Rice, a businessman and founder of Rice University, bought the property in 1886. He maintained the hotel until his murder in 1900. Rice Institute took over ownership and renamed the building The Rice hotel in his honor. Houston developer Jesse Jones leased the hotel from the Rice Institute and was instrumental in creating a new vision for the building. The new hotel broke records, becoming the tallest building in the city and largest hotel in the South, rising 18 stories high. It also was the first public space in Houston with air-conditioning. Celebrities and public figures flocked to the hotel, known for its regal Crystal Ballroom and Empire Room. President John F. Kennedy even visited the hotel the day before he was assassinated in 1963.

The Haunted History

Before the hotel officially closed, guests said they could hear rattling objects and feel other supernatural activity in the room where Kennedy slept. The hotel closed in the 1970s, but reopened as luxury apartments in 1998. Now, residents say the ghostly activity has moved to the roof. The ghosts of a couple who used to dance in the hotel ballroom can now be spotted on the roof. Oooh!

So, have you seen any ghost sightings at The Rice or know of other haunted hotels in Houston? I want to know!

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