Ghost Stories of the
Jekyll Island Club Resort
- An apparition of a military general is said to appear in a room named after him
- A ghost in one room reportedly drinks guests coffee and reads their newspapers in the morning
- Smells of phantom cigar smoke are reported in one of the cottages
- The spirit of a bellhop is seen and heard knocking on room doors
- Visiting grooms have reported the bellhop offering them a fresh press and iron of their wedding day suit
Gilded History of the
Jekyll Island Club Resort
Once a private hunting club, the Jekyll Island Club spent many years catering to the richest people in the US. Some enjoyed the community of fellow oligarchs in the central club buildings, while others relished seaside privacy from the comfort of expansive cottages built on the club grounds.
Today, the Jekyll Island Club Resort has changed a lot since its social club past but maintains its historic character. Whether you’re hoping to relax poolside, enjoy a round of golf, or explore the history of the island, the Jekyll Island Club Resort has everything to satiate your desires. But don’t go thinking the resort’s social club days are entirely behind it. Some islanders will tell you that that history lives on through spirits of bygone eras, and that those spirits might just make themselves known during your stay at the Jekyll Island Club Resort.
Timeline of Jekyll Island Club Resort's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Jekyll Island Club Resort through the years
In the 1880s, a collaboration between wealthy New Yorkers and Georgian landowners created a private hunting club on Jekyll Island on the southern Georgia coast. Their goal was to create a wintertime retreat for the wealthiest and most influential men of the era, offering community and camaraderie in the large central club buildings, or seaside privacy from the comfort of expansive cottages. In 1886, the venture was formalized as the Jekyll Island Club, one of the most exclusive hunting and recreation clubs in the nation.
The first building opened in 1888, and the complex grew rapidly. As the Gilded Age went on and more people built immense wealth, membership expanded. Families joining the club in this era included the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the family of J.P. Morgan, who constructed the Sans Souci cottage at the club. The concentration of wealth reached a peak in 1910, when bankers, politicians, and financiers met at the Jekyll Island Club to draft legislation. It is said that the group held 25% of the entire world’s wealth at the time.
Jekyll Island Club’s success lasted 40 years before the Great Depression gutted the club’s extravagance. Lower cost memberships were offered, but soon World War II conscripted many new, young members, and the club closed in 1942. After the war, Jekyll Island was purchased by the state for a park. The club complex was turned into a state-run resort but closed in 1971 due to financial difficulty. Named a historic landmark in 1978, the club sat empty until a preservation plan was devised in 1985.
The 1987 re-opening marked a revitalization of the nearly forgotten island. The Jekyll Island Club Resort soon became a member of the Historic Hotels of America, and now tourists of every socioeconomic class flock to the island. In this renewed life, superstitions around the old club gained traction. Guests’ ghostly run-ins at the resort have led some to claim that the Jekyll Island Club is haunted by the most powerful figures of the Gilded Age.
Who Haunts the Jekyll
Island Club Resort?
One ghost said to linger around the resort actually predates the original club’s grand opening. General Lloyd Aspinwall was a founding member of the Jekyll Island Club and was poised to serve as its first president once the club structures were completed. Unfortunately, he died suddenly in 1886 while the club was still being built.
In the years that followed, many guests reported seeing General Aspinwall walking around his favorite veranda, hands clasped behind him in classic military posture. The veranda has since been closed in as a sunroom named the Aspinwall Room, but the general’s apparition is still said to appear every now and then and saunter the room. Some claim he appears regularly on the anniversary of his death each year.
Coffee Sipping Spirits at the Jekyll Island Club Resort
Another well-known ghost around the resort is Samuel Spencer, a regular face around the club around the turn of the 20th century. A wealthy railroad magnate, Spencer often vacationed at Jekyll Island and regularly ordered a coffee and a copy of the Wall Street Journal in the mornings.
When he died in a train accident in 1906, it seems his spirit didn’t stop his vacation tradition. Today, guests in Spencer’s old suite will report that their morning coffees will be sipped from and their papers leafed through, as if Samuel Spencer is still trying his best to keep up on world events.
Ready for a Spooky Stay at the Jekyll Island Club Resort?
The day-to-day operations of the expansive Jekyll Island Club Resort complex don’t allow for formal ghost tours or paranormal investigations. However, other outside tour companies on the island promote ghost tours that examine spiritual legends across the entire island. And while the resort’s website understandably focuses more on its amenities than its apparitions, the resort’s Historic Hotels of America entry includes a section all about its famous phantoms.
The ghost stories around Jekyll Island Club Resort seem to be an open secret around the island today, and frequent visitors to the area know to expect the unexpected in the halls and rooms of the historic resort, since the spirits around the Jekyll aren’t known to hide.