I’ve told y’all before, as I talked about our haunted tours, that sometimes people come to Denton and never want to leave. Sometimes, folks check into a hotel and don’t check out! Even when the building is no longer a hotel, their spirits linger for reasons unknown.
Residents of Denton who were here before Interstate 35 was opened, in about 1964, remember that the main thoroughfare from up north in Iowa all the way down to South Texas went smack dab through the middle of downtown Denton. Locust Street and Elm Street, on either side of the courthouse, were part of Highway 77. While diverting the heavy traffic around town with the new interstate was a boon to the city in many ways, it sounded a death knell for some businesses that relied on travelers for their patronage.
One such business was the Le Blair Hotel, which sat next to the old La Casita Restaurant (which I’m told served “the best” Mexican cuisine) right by the highway. I’m not sure exactly when this two story, brick structure was built. Judging from the architecture, it had been around for several decades by the time the interstate took its business away. It is built in the old “shotgun” style, with long hallways down the center of both floors. There were eight guest rooms on each floor, four on each side. There were four bathrooms to accommodate the guests, because people didn’t expect the same luxuries (and privacy!) that travelers demand today. As one walked down those long halls, each side had two rooms, a bathroom, and two more guest rooms. I have no clue where the office might have been.
Actually, it isn’t fair to say that the hotel’s business was ruined by the highway; by the time that Interstate 35 was opened the Le Blair was already on its last legs. It had fallen into disrepair, and was occupied by vagrants. In the late 1960s, the restaurant next door caught fire. As it burned to the ground a spark caught the roof of the Le Blair on fire. I’m told that a man who was staying at the hotel was killed in the conflagration. Perhaps he was the spirit haunting that old building when a family bought that business to restore it?
They had hauntings, alright … a huge amount of ghostly activity … and I have the tale for you straight from the people who experienced chilling events. The caveat, is that you can only hear it on a ghostly tour of Denton! New ghost tours will launch on FRIDAY, MARCH 22ND at 8:00 p.m. from Jupiter House Coffee (106 N. Locust). The 90 minute tours are $10 a person, and tickets can be bought on-line at my website. I have begun a new venture called Ghosts of Denton, which will be every Friday and Saturday night (caveat: I might take an occasional vacation, and I don’t “do” lightning storms, because I don’t want new ghosts on the square —at least not that way). Join me on Facebook, “like” the page, and watch for updates. I’ll also be posting tidbits of history as I find them.
For weeks I have been interviewing people and unearthing tidbits of ghostly tales to add to the ghostly repertoire. You will get history (because that puts the stories in context), but you can bet your boots that I won’t skimp on the mystery! I look forward to seeing you!
Be sure to bring a hand to hold!