Wealthy hardware businessman J.M. Brown's 1858 home was the first brick mansion built in Texas. The Italiante sports window cornices and intricate wrought-iron portico grillwork on the exterior, opulent gold leaf molding throughout, and original carved antique furniture. In 1900, the house went on to survive that year's notorious hurricane, which killed over 8,000 people, because the owners opened the front and back doors to let floodwater flow through the house. One of Brown's daughters sat atop the main staircase and excitedly watched as water reached the tenth tread.
Named the third most haunted place in America by The Discovery Channel
, accounts of the sound of phantom marching can perhaps be explained by the place having served as army headquarters in the 1860s. The ghost of Miss Bettie Brown, the original owner's eccentric daughter, often shows herself on the second floor landing.
While Ashton Villa considers itself a "serious house museum that deals only in historical facts" and doesn't typically acknowledge the paranormal reputation of the place, they are hosting special "Are We Haunted?" October tours (409-765-7834; galvestonhistory.org
). The villa is also the starting point of Galveston's annual Living Dead Tour (409-789-9911; galveston.com