Haunted N.C. hotels

Looking for a spooky getaway when Halloween rolls around? These hotels are said to have ghosts.

The Carolina Inn

Chapel Hill

A 1959 photo of William Jacocks shows him with four other 1904 UNC grads who returned to teach at Chapel Hill. A serious-looking group, to a man.

You’d never guess that Jacocks, a physician and UNC professor, was actually a kindly gent who was fond of riddles and jokes. And who would’ve known his attachment to his alma mater might prove so ... enduring?

The Carolina Inn was built next to campus in 1924 to house visitors to the university, and Jacocks occupied quarters on the second floor from 1948 to 1965. Some who later spent the night in what is now Room 256, an attractive, two-room suite, say his spirit never left.

Jacocks died in 1965 in Burke County. But old-school ties can be strong.

Guests and staff have since reported inexplicable music and murmuring in his rooms, and that objects have somehow been moved about. There have been reports of mysterious knockings on the walls. At least one over-nighter said the bed shook.

Various researchers of the paranormal say their sensors detected a “presence” in and around the professor’s old chambers – enough to place the inn on the several “America’s top haunted hotels” lists.

The most common occurrence involves doors that close on their own – or, once shut, refuse to open. The spirit’s favorite trick, it is said, is to lock people out of Room 256. That’s lock, as in resisting keys and (since 1990) electronic entry cards. On at least one occasion, staffers had to haul a ladder to the inn’s exterior and enter 252 through a window. Another time the door so resisted opening that it had to be taken off its hinges.


Omni Grove Park Inn


The story of the 1920s is often one of Jazz Age flappers who recklessly pursued pleasure... and eventually took the plunge.

That’s the story that comes with Room 545. On a cool November night in the 1920s, it is said, a woman dressed in pink went to the atrium balcony outside her door and fell or leaped to the courtyard two stories below.

Hotel records from that time no longer exist, and newspapers mention no such event.

Was it hushed? Or is this the stuff of legend?

For years there have been occasional sightings by staffers and guests of the “Pink Lady” in and near Room 545. Paranormal researchers say they have detected a “presence” there. The Grove Park is well aware of the Pink Lady tales, but has no policy about a spirit being one of their permanent guests.

The room today is suited in Arts & Crafts-style furnishings, appropriate to the Roaring ’20s. Its exterior window overlooks the main entrance.

A writer stayed in Room 545 some years back; in her story for the Observer, she noted she saw no spirit dressed in pink and passed the night uneventfully. The next morning, however, while peering over the waist-high atrium balcony, she felt “a great whooshing sensation” that seemed to suck the life from her.


Balsam Mountain Inn


Balsam, off the Blue Ridge Parkway, just off U.S. 23/74, was once a stop for railroad passengers who would stay up the hill at the Balsam Mountain Inn to enjoy tranquil mountain vistas.

The hotel/resort was built in the early 1900s. In 1990, the property was restored as a drive-to getaway, its 107 rooms consolidated into 50.

The three-story inn makes the most of its turn-of-the-century charm, the freight train still comes through the mountain pass twice a day, and Henry the ghost is still thought to be occupying Room 205.

Sharon and Kim Shailer bought the inn in 2004 and owned it until a few years ago.

A guest may have had a paranormal experience, Sharon Shailer told the Observer in 2009. A woman sleeping in that room woke up and thought her husband was giving her a back rub. She turned around to thank him and saw he was sound asleep.

There’s no record of any second-floor guest who met his end rubbing the wrong woman’s back.


John Bordsen