Footsteps on the Staircase - A Haunted Dance Hall
When it comes to interaction with residents of the Great Beyond it’s easy to conjure up visions of headless apparitions, unsettling sounds and head-scratching changes in décor—“Wait, didn’t I leave that book on the other side of the room?” But not all otherworldly wonders are quite as pronounced as evidenced at historic Sengelmann Hall, 90 miles west of Houston in the charming community of Schulenburg.
Here, the connections are focused on sounds instead of sights including a lively polka band that plays a different tune every night or footsteps close on the heels of whomever walks down the twisting wooden staircase that connects the second floor dance hall to the downstairs bar and restaurant (if the person in front walks faster, the footsteps increase in tempo).
“In my world there are no woo woo big chain rattling ghosts,” says Garrett Pettit, who owns the dance hall and restaurant and leases the building from property owner Dana Harper. “All [our] ghosts are happy. If they play music they’ve gotta be happy, right?” Right.
The current structure was completed in 1894 and served as a constant host for dancing, drinking and all-around good fun characteristic of the town’s German heritage until closing in the 1940s, around the time of World War II. A Western Auto occupied the first floor space until the 1970s, when the property fell into a decades-long stagnant vacancy period. Harper purchased it in 2007 and renovated it to its original glory, reopening in 2009 to a welcoming crowd of revelers.
Since then, Joan Osborne performed and reportedly experienced a personal encounter with a ghost child boy while sitting at the bar. Employees have shared experiences including a sighting of a gentleman in a white shirt and tails—perhaps preparing to go upstairs to a party—and reports of voices of men arguing upstairs when no one else was around and the hall had limited access.
As for the partygoers and celebrants of today, Pettit says guests are eager to share photos in which orbs appear, which he says is quite common. He adds that though his experiences are less visible, cast on an upstairs wall is the shadow of a soldier with his head down, though no light source has been identified. Pettit says that most people who come to the hall and learn of its haunted history are receptive to the stories and find them captivating, not frightening.
“It’s a topic of conversation,” he says. “You hope something happens. It’s interesting and intriguing and it’s old and it’s fun. Who doesn’t like a good ghost story?”
> Sengelmann Hall (sengelmannhall.com) is located at 531 N. Main St. in Schulenburg.