What Was Once America’s Most Exclusive Club Is Now Its Most Haunted Hotel

Jekyll Island, Georgia is a place where time stands still. As you wander the grounds of the Historic District, you can immediately sense what it was like back in its heyday, when the exclusive Jekyll Island Club, opened in 1888, called the area home. An incredibly exclusive resort with only 100 members, which were made up of America’s Gilded Age rich, it was a halcyon destination.

Members of the club included J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, William Rockefeller, and more. It was the site of famous historical events, like the first transcontinental phone call, from the President of AT&T Theodore Vail to Woodrow Wilson, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson in 1915. Legislation that outlined the formation of the Federal Reserve was drafted here in 1910. When history wasn’t being written here, hunting and golf were popular activities at the family-friendly club.

Of course, the club started falling on hard times once the Great Depression rolled around, and attempts to open up membership proved futile. World War II dealt the final blow to the Jekyll Island Club, and it closed permanently in 1942. It was purchased by the state in 1947, and started operating as a private hotel in the 1980s. It still serves as a hotel today. The clubhouse, as well as several historic mansions and cottages, have been converted into accommodations. Other historic homes have been preserved for other uses as part of the Jekyll Island National Landmark Historic District. But, while updates have been made, there still remain some eerie remnants of the past.

One of the more frequent guests from the other side is Samuel Spencer, a railroad magnate who was killed in a train collision in 1906. He often drops into suites in the Annex to enjoy his morning coffee and the Wall Street Journal. Guests in Apartment 8 often report their coffee cups and daily papers get mysteriously moved about.

Pretty much all of the ghosts here have nothing but good intentions. There’s a 1920s-era bellman who is known for checking up on grooms preparing for their weddings. Guests report having their clothes returned from the dry cleaners to them by the old-timey bellman, when in reality, an employee had left the clothes hanging outside the room. And, one of the club’s most famous guests has been known to check back into his old condo; wealthy financier J.P. Morgan owned rooms in the Sans Souci building, and those in his former rooms occasionally catch a whiff of his cigar smoke.

But it’s not all spooks and specters. Luxurious pools, private seashore pavillions with beach access, the croquet lawn, Victorian tea in the Grand Dining Room, and more add a modern-day opulence to the hotel. They offer frequent events, like photography weekends and holiday fun… in addition to the occasional ghost hunting weekend, of course.