On the riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, about a mile from the Alamo, lies a most unusual hotel. This Holiday Inn Express was originally built in 1878, when it was used as the Bexar County jail.
Today, the hotel does not look that different from its penitentiary roots, and it’s said to be haunted by the spirits of the inmates executed with its walls.
The San Antonio of the Old West was filled with law breakers. The initial jail was built in the late 1800s with only two stories, but as the need increased for more rooms for inmates, they ran into a problem. Zoning laws prevented them from adding on to the footprint of the jail, so builders were forced to go upward. This led to the most creepy innovation devised yet— an indoor gallows.
The gallows of this jail was built with a special trap door inside the third level. Condemned prisoners were led up the stairs to this trap door, where they’d be fitted with a noose, then dropped through to the gallery below, where they would die in full view of not only any spectators, but also the other inmates in their cells.
In fact, Texas’s last public hanging took place in this jail in the 1920s. It was a gruesome event that went terribly wrong, spurting the victim’s blood all over the gathered crowd!
The jail itself closed in the 1960s, and then the building was converted into a hotel, where both guests and employees say the weight of death, despair, and the supernatural hang heavy over every room.