The St. James Hotel
The St. James hotel stands watchful over Selma, Alabama from its perch on the Alabama River banks. Both the St. James and Selma went through a spell where much of the area was depressed, dilapidated, and forgotten, but local groups and the government have been working to revitalize the area, and their diligence seems to have stirred up more than they bargained for.
The St. James, also known as the Brantly Hotel for its first 50 years, is the only antebellum riverfront hotel left in Selma, and has been standing at it’s site since 1837. In the late 1990′s, it was completely renovated and refurbished, keeping with it’s historical roots but modernized enough to keep modern visitors comfortable. The outer rooms have amazing Alabama River views and the inner rooms look upon a glorious courtyard that boast a fountain. In the last 160 years, it has been the destination for businessmen, plantation owner, soldiers, and of course, trouble. The Union Army occupied it during the Civil War, saving it from being burned to the ground as was the rest of Selma.
After the war, it was owned by Benjamin S. Tower, the first African American Congressman who would rent the rooms long-term, not uncommon at this period. The notorious outlaws, Frank and Jesse James took advantage of this and made the hotel their headquarters for some time. After 1892, the area hit hard times and the hotel closed for over 100 years. Unbeknownst to those outside the slumbering doors, a few spirits still roam the once grand hotel.
The most famed inhabitant would be the apparition of Jesse James, decked out in 1880′s cowboy duds and wandering around the upstairs guest rooms 214, 314, and 315. He also seems to occupy the corner table to the left of the bar downstairs. A ghost named Lucinda is supposedly Jesse’s girlfriend. She is described as a beautiful, tall, black-haired woman, smelling of lavender. A portrait of her hangs on the first floor of the hotel. She wanders around the hotel and stops frequently to watch the living, most likely surprised that after 100 years, the place is bustling again. The ghost of a black dog, thought to be Jesse’s canine companion, is heard running and barking in the halls of the hotel and many have complained of the barking heard in the courtyard.
Psychics and investigators have been brought into the St. James to give the current management a better idea of what is happening in the hotel. Interestingly, they have picked out more than just these 3 entities. Psychics have described groups of apparitions in the inner courtyard, dressed in 1880′s clothing, going about their business and unaware of the living. Perhaps it is these ghosts of the past that cause the odd, inexplicable sounds heard from that space. Mischievous entities will bang glassware together until told to stop, a man has been seen sitting on a bench in the drinking room, and in room 304, a cook who was staying in the room complained about the curtains moving for no logical reason and bright flashes of light. A psychic claims to have spoken to that specter and discovered that the entity was angry that he passed away before finishing some business he wanted to do.
The most amusing occurrence happened in the Brantly Ballroom. A team of paranormal investigators had been tape recording the room hoping to get an Electronic Voice Phenomenon. They asked the question “Is anyone here?” When playing the tape back later on, they quite clearly heard a gruff voice reply “Well, that’s a stupid question.”
The St. James Hotel has been deemed positively haunted by psychics and investigators.