Spirits of well-known patrons are still gazing
at the views, taste-testing drinks and enjoying hotel amenities.
An employee tries to continue in service despite not having a real body.
This 4-star 1887 luxury Victorian hotel is now owned by the Radisson Hotel chain. Lovely and spacious, it has 134 rooms and suites, located in areas of the main building known as the Clubhouse, the Annex and the three restored cottages: the Sans Souci, the Crane Cottage, and the Cherokee Cottage, which were all built between 1896 and 1917.
The 1896 Sans Souci still has its original floors, leaded art glass, stairway, and skylight.
The 1904 Italian Renaissance Cherokee Cottage features three arched double front doors, a light and spacious great room, and ten “accommodations.”
The largest and most lavish of the three is the Italian Renaissance Crane Cottage, which has a landscaped sunken garden with fountains and an upper terrace.
Tom and I stopped by and were wowed by the beauty and grandeur of the hotel and felt we had stepped back in time to a glorious era. It reminds me of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, which was built in 1888. The Jekyll Island Clubhouse was designed by Chicago native Charles Alexander, using the Queen Anne style. A prominent turret dominates the roofline, and the asymmetrically designed building features extensive verandas, bay windows, and extended chimneys inside. Alexander used Ionic columns in the dining room, created 12 to 15-foot ceilings, oak wainscoting and other fine woodwork. No Queen Anne style structure would be complete without leaded art glass and 93 “distinctively detailed” fireplaces.
The hotel offers everything a person needs to relax, have fun and enjoy their holiday. There’s even a 3,700 foot airstrip for private planes. More than 50 activities are available for guests’ amusement. All kinds of recreational opportunities are available. People can use the beautiful swimming pool, putting green, tournament level croquet lawn and rent bicycles. Tennis enthusiasts and golfers will be happy with nearby facilities. Fishing opportunities are close by.
The Jekyll Island Club Hotel became a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and more recently was named a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Jekyll Island Club was funded in 1885 by a group of founding members who invested in Newton Finney and his brother in-law’s ambitious plans to create the most exclusive hunting club and vacation site for very wealthy people. The original 53 investor/members, who worked in New York City, became part of the incorporated Jekyll Island Club, which bought the whole island.
Those who enjoyed this exclusive hunting/vacation retreat included such important and influential business people such as J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer, George Baker and James Stillman, who also conducted business meetings here. Patrons spent their summers here with their families in a state of lavish splendor.
Some liked it so much that they built winter homes or “cottages” here which housed entire families and their servants. For example, J.P. Morgan and two other families built Sans Souci in 1896, which consisted of six units, the first condos ever built in the United States.
While the Jekyll Island Club flourished into the 1930s, the Great Depression affected people’s priorities, values and fortunes, and half of the members ended up dropping out. What finally closed its doors was World War 2. Afraid that enemy subs could lurk just off the coast of Jekyll Island, the federal government ordered the complete evacuation of the island for the duration of the war.
Then, in 1947, the state of Georgia bought the entire island for $675,000, and turned it into a public state park. Several old Jekyll Island Club properties, as well as the main building were made available as leased properties, and have been fully restored over the years. Other cottages were leased to private parties, and are not part of the current Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
The Hotel may no longer be the exclusive playground of the very elite, but it is a luxury, high class, establishment which takes really good care of its guests. Some of its original members and former employees still enjoy it, despite the fact that they are no longer alive!
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
J. Pierpont Morgan was one of three members who built Sans Souci. He and his family vacationed in one of the condo units, which had three stories. The third story had a lovely porch which offered a fantastic view of the Jekyll River, which was his favorite place to “have a quiet time of reflection.”
General Lloyd Aspinwall was one of the original investors/members, and eagerly looked forward to being the club’s first president! Unfortunately, he died a year before it opened.
Southern Railroad Company President, Samuel Spencer, who loved to stay at The Jekyll Island Club, requested that a copy of the Wall Street Journal be brought to his suite. Every morning, he would enjoy his coffee while reading his favorite newspaper. Unfortunately Samuel Spencer died before his time in 1906 when the Southern Railroad train he was riding on was hit by another train coming in the opposite direction.
Employees were well-paid and appreciated by the clientele.
Sans Souci — The entity of J. Pierpont Morgan still enjoys sitting out on the third story porch early in the morning.
Morgan’s spirit still enjoys watching the Jekyll River, while smoking his favorite brand of cigars. Guests who get up early in the morning can smell the cigar smoke.
The Aspinwall Room — The apparition of General Lloyd Aspinwall has been seen here.
When the Jekyll Island Club first opened, The Aspinwall Room was called the Riverfront Veranda. It has a glorious view of the inspiring surroundings. It is no wonder that the spirit of General Lloyd Aspinwall still walks here.
Spencer’s Suite — The entity of Samuel Spencer still enjoys the rooms of his suite, despite being dead.
His spirit has been known to help himself to guests’ coffee and likes to be aware of current events by reading their paper.
An unknown male entity who was a bellhop in the 1920s is still at work on the second floor of the main building.
His apparition, dressed in a 1920 Jekyll Island Club cap and suit uniform, has been known to knock on the doors of newly married couples on their honeymoon, and offer the groom a newly pressed suit before vanishing into thin air. Now that’s job dedication!
These well-mannered entities still enjoy this piece of heaven that they retreated to when alive.
371 Riverview Drive
Jekyll Island, Georgia 31527
Jekyll Island Club Hotel is located in a truly beautiful spot on Jekyll Island, with a glorious view of the Jekyll River and the lovely surroundings! The Hotel’s river front pavilion is the perfect invitation “to relax and enjoy Jekyll Island’s ten mile expanse of sandy beaches.”
- The National Directory of Haunted Places
by Dennis William Hauck
The Penguin Group
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr