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The St. James Hotel

Selma, Alabama
By Robin Wright

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 â??Is anyone here?â? When playing the tape back later on, they quite clearly heard a gruff voice reply â??Well, that’s a stupid question.â?

The St. James Hotel has been deemed positively haunted by psychics and investigators.

28 comments on this haunted house. Share your story »


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cherry says:

November 24, 2008, 9:19 pm

thats sooooooooooo cooooooooooool.

bob says:

January 29, 2009, 5:28 pm

thats awsome

billybobjoe says:

January 29, 2009, 5:31 pm

thats pretty cool. but i personily think that bloody mary’s better.

mary mary says:

March 14, 2009, 9:30 am

Finally a movie based on a true story that looks scarey. Let people now that stories like this really happen.

James says:

March 30, 2009, 10:31 pm

thi is awsome

Kayla the Investigater says:

April 5, 2009, 1:03 am

I might actually visit this hotel…if i can get a room..(if possible)

Tawanah says:

May 5, 2009, 8:53 pm

I’ve stayed at the St. James. I didn’t see any ghosts but it was a magnificant hotel. The courtyard is fabulous, reminds me of New Orleans. If you get a chance, stay there.

Alma says:

May 22, 2009, 9:39 pm

haha. “well, that’s a stupid question.” i wish i could go there to see if it’s true, myself.

ohshootitskelli says:

July 2, 2009, 2:30 pm

“well, that’s a stupid question.”
that’s what i think when i hear someone ask thatt.
that has got to be my faavorite ghost ever.
mad respect.

Tiffany says:

July 16, 2009, 3:22 am

I was born & raised in Selma…& i have been 2 the St. James Hotel several times…it is most certainly haunted!!! But so are lots of places in Selma!!!

Augustine Njibe says:

August 3, 2009, 12:39 pm



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tracy says:

October 5, 2009, 9:24 pm

i live in selma and have lived here 4 16 yrs and i believe its haunted.

Rick Garner says:

October 16, 2009, 10:24 pm

Check out what happened when the Unexplained paranormal investigative team visited Selma:

allison jones says:

December 10, 2009, 4:34 pm

that story is the best ive ever heard!that was the bomb hizzle nizzle!

smetna says:

January 24, 2010, 7:33 pm

The James Hotel is…COOL!!!(But the Franklin castle is WWWWAAAYYY BETTER!!!!


March 12, 2010, 10:48 pm


dj phantom says:

August 16, 2010, 5:53 pm

a dead body fell out or my celling grean stuff kepps lea king out of his nose then some thing kept makikn noises it was like ta ta ta ta phantoooom ch ch ch grrrrrrrr.

india says:

October 30, 2010, 10:57 pm

that is really cool

jesse juang says:

October 31, 2010, 6:27 pm


che che says:

November 16, 2010, 8:19 pm

Hey guys . Im cool

Ching cjomf.... says:

November 16, 2010, 8:20 pm

haha. Che Che, i cann see you !! you gon’ die in 7 days..

che che says:

November 16, 2010, 8:20 pm

thats wat i was … to DIE ! ! ! you can come to ching cjomf

Ching cjomf.... says:

November 16, 2010, 8:21 pm

okayys. i see you on the other side. whree we have milk and cookies

your worst night mareee says:

January 18, 2011, 2:32 pm

that is sooo cooll brrruhhh [=

Miller says:

March 15, 2011, 4:21 pm

I stayed at the St. James Hotel with my grandparents and we investigated the hotel on our own. We saw a lot of orbs in the drinking room and heard footsteps on the second floor. I heard two bells ringing and there are no bells in the hotel. No one heard it but me. My grandmother and I were in the drinking room and when we were leaving, we heard a chair move behind us and we were the only ones in there at the time. We stayed for a little longer to see if we could see Jesse James, who supposedly hangs out at the corner table there. We never did see him. We then went to our third floor room and went to sleep. I woke up about 4:00 a.m. to use the bathroom and before I did that I went to the window that looks out on the courtyard and I saw a shadow of a man in the hallway on the opposite side of the courtyard and it vanished into the ceiling.

Rosie says:

October 25, 2012, 11:19 am


Saiorse says:

October 26, 2013, 12:37 am

It is so sad that most of you commenters have chosen not to learn basic grammar, spelling and sentence composition. Many elementary school children are more intelligent than you. You have no excuse! Instead of commenting on websites you could choose to educate yourself. Please, for the sake of humanity, do not procreate!

Matt G says:

June 29, 2016, 3:53 pm

Have any of you heard of the lemon cake ghost in Virginia? It’s a silly name but such a creepy story

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