Zoom Backgrounds From Austin's Most Haunted Locales

Make remote work meetings a bit spookier with these photos

You've changed your Twitter handle to something haunted and punny. You've turned your yard into a skeleton habitat. But what about your Zoom meetings? Don't worry, we have you covered with these hi-res images of local supernatural hotspots. – James Renovitch

Now let Screens editor Richard Whittaker, and our talented team of photographers - John Anderson, Jana Birchum, and David Brendan Hall - as they scare up some of Austin's most haunted places.

The Driskill Hotel

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Where's that cigar smoke coming from? Isn't this a no-smoking hotel? Well, take that up with the owner - the original owner, that is. Legend has it that, if you're in the lobby, the thick odor of a stogie indicates that Col. Jesse Driskill is there to invisibly greet guests at the giant art nouveau edifice that bears his name. But he's not the only phantom said to still be in residence. There's the picture of a young girl, said to be the likeness of Samantha Houston, the four-year-old daughter of U.S. Senator Temple Lea Houston, who fell down the stair while playing and still chases after her ball, laughing. Then there's the story of the two brides who passed on, 20 years apart, in the same room, and never checked out.

Governor's Mansion

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There's the young man who pined away for the love of Gov. Pendleton Murrah’s daughter, and still looks for her to this day. He took his own life with a revolver, and some say that Gov. Andrew J Hamilton had the room the heartbroken lover killed himself locked up because the cleaning staff refused to go in there, Murrah, the 10th governor, is said to have never really have given up the comforts of the mansion. He may well still run into Sam Houston, since the second governor is still seen around his old mahogany bed.

The Inn at Pearl Street

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What fates a century can hold. Judge Charles A. Wilcox had the charming house built for his high society parties, but the Great Depression sent his finances into a tailspin, and the stately home became a flophouse. Now renovated as a boutqiue hotel, there are always a few extra guests, like the ethereal woman in white seen carrying two young boys up the staircase. They can be a little mischievious: So if your towels are messed up, it may be the Wilcoxes having a litte fun at your expense.

The Littlefield House

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George and Alice Littlefield left a legacy on the UT Austin campus, paying for the Main Building, the Littlefield Fountain, and the Littlefield Dorms. But their most recognizable addition to the university's map is one of the most distinctive: the Littlefield House, the ornate Victorian mansion that Alice loved so much that it's said she still tends to it. If you ever hear the piano tinkling in the night, it may be Alice entertaining you.

Oakwood Cemetery

Click here for the hi-res image
Click here for the hi-res image
Click here for the hi-res image

Austin's oldest and most storied graveyard is already a perfect place to wander among the tombstones and contemplate the transitory nature of existence. But considering you may be joined on your promenade by Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson, sometimes sighted in her funeral weeds, or maybe even Confederate General Thomas Green (still contemplating where it all went wrong, we'll wager), you may not be mulling your mortality alone. Who knows, you may even see Texas Ranger John Barclay Armstrong and notorious outlaw John Wesley Hardin, still playing out their game of cat-and-mouse in the place where Armstrong is supposed to be enjoying his eternal rest.

Pioneer Farms

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The Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms are one of Central Texas' most complete complexes of historic buildings, but they're not the only trace of the past on the 90 acre farm. Look for the 600-year-old oak on the recreated Tonkawa encampment. If there's a little girl swinging from the branches, or sat in the roots playing, she may have been there a lot longer than you.

Texas State Capitol

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If you think the most haunting part of the legislature are the bad bills that hang over everyone's heads, then maybe you haven't met Will it be Comptroller Robert Marshall Love, murdered in his office but still seen wearing his top hat, walking up the promenade to the Capitol. Or been greeted by the lady in red, there clear as day on the third floor one instant, and disappeared the instant you try to strike up a conversation. Or maybe it will be the mysterious woman who has been seen walking the walls that those who see here swear is the spitting image of the portait of late First Lady Fay Wright. Or maybe you just see the handprint that appears some misty mornings on a window in the Senate reception room.

The Tavern

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Austin's Germanic inn has hidden history in more ways than one. Supposedly, it was a house of ill-repute for a while (no one's quite sure when, but then that's not the kind of thing you advertise) and one of the women who worked there, a lady called Emily, has been known to nudge the odd elbow or even put a hand on your shoulder.

Fourth & Colorado

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Back when steam was king, the building that now houses the Market & Tap Room was part of the rabbit warren of sidings, warehouses, and shadows were grim secrets hid. So no surprise that there have been myserious sightings of shadowy figures - and even just a spectral pair of legs - since before it was the Spaghetti Warehouse. Sightings that some say continue to this day.

Clay Pit

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Ambitious entrepreneur O.R. Bertram brought what has been a trading post in 1872, and expanded it into a store with a saloon out back, while he and his family turned the second floor into their home. It seems they were so attached that they never left, even after the building became part of the State Treasury and then part of a series of restaurants. Some say they can still hear a raucous party, with dancing and carrousing, even when there's no one up there.

Austin State Hospital

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The state's mental health facility, which opened in 1925 as the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, was a place of hardship for hundreds of people for decades, and its graveyard is one of the city's few Potter's Fields.

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