When the Windsor Hotel opened in Americus, Georgia in 1892, it was originally meant to attract northern visitors looking to escape the cold of the brutal winters. With plenty of rooms and other amenities, the hotel was a hit with travelers and vacationers alike. What no one would know until years later was that it also attracted its fair share of ghosts. Today, let’s take a look at the opulent hotel with a tragic tale of mother and daughter.
The Windsor was very popular when it first opened at the end of the 19th century. With 100 rooms in the 5 story Victorian mansion-like hotel, complete with towers and turrets, there was a sense of luxury that oozed from each board and window. Today, the hotel is managed by Best Western, keeping many of its popular fixtures and the eerie feeling from the historic hotel perched downtown in Americus, Georgia. It’s been renovated twice since its opening, once in 1991 after several decades of disrepair, and another in 2010 to bring the amenities up to modern standards.
The hauntings that would take over the hotel would begin early, with a tragic accident occurring just two years after the hotel’s opening. In 1896, a Cincinnati businessman named Richard Rust attempted to use the elevator, but instead fell down the elevator shaft. He wouldn’t be the last, either, as just a few years later, the fate would be shared with a Mr. A. A. Martin. Luckily, neither man died from their injuries, but the stigma around the elevator shaft wouldn’t end there. The tongue-in-cheek response from the local newspaper, the Americus Times-Recorder, said in 1899: “We may (perhaps) be thankful that the elevator at the Windsor Hotel has actually been repaired.”
Just a few years later, however, the most tragic event would occur at the Windsor, cementing its haunted history and the elevator shaft that continued to collect victims. In the early 1900s, a housekeeper named Emily Mae lived in the hotel with her young daughter, Emma. During an argument with Emily’s lover on the fifth floor exploded into violence when the man pushed both Emily and Emma down the elevator shaft, this time being a fatal fall that killed both Emily and Emma. Legend says they were holding hands all the way to the bottom of the shaft, clinging to each other.
Other tragic deaths occurred in the hotel as well, lending it a spooky and creepy reputation by the locals. Two men would take their own life on the 3rd floor, following in the footsteps of another man who had nearly killed himself in the same room as one of the men. A chef in the hotel would be convicted of murdering a laundress in the hotel, being sent to prison for the remainder of his life with hard labor in the Sumter County Stockade. A beloved doorman named Floyd Ardell Lowery was a fixture in the hotel during life, waiting on important guests and presidents who visited the hotel. Floyd was a Black man who refused alcohol, like the movements sweeping the country in the 1920s to ban liquor and begin the prohibition. Ironically, a bar on the second floor of the hotel is named in Floyd’s honor. Floyd passed peaceful in the 1960s, but his spirit is said to still walk the halls, looking for guests in need and occasionally giving directions before disappearing into thin air.
The most active spirits are still Emma and Emily, with guests constantly reporting the sound of a child playing in the hallways of every floor in the hotel. Occasionally, an apparition of the two will be seen near the elevators, holding hands and seemingly waiting for the elevator car. Guests then notice that the two never stepped on the elevator and, instead, disappeared as soon as they seemed to enter. Employees report pots and pans being thrown across the room by an unseen force, electric lights flickering on and off, and sometimes even tapping them on the shoulder to make themselves known.
The gorgeous hotel is open today for guests and visitors looking to escape the cold, just like it did in the early days. If you stay, check out the 3rd floor and see if the mother and daughter make themselves known to you, or if a ghost gives you a turndown service and puts away your clothing as they might have for important guests in the early 1900s. You might hear the shower turn on with no one else in the room, or find your dry cleaning hanging in a different place than you left it. Something all of the employees and visitors agree on is that none of the spirits are malicious, just stuck in the place they knew best in life and spooking guests.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.