OPERATION TIME: 1857 to present
Grace Hall was an antebellum mansion built in 1857 by Henry Ware. During the Civil War, most of Selma, Alabama was left damaged or destroyed, but many architecturally significant buildings, including Grace Hall and Sturdivant Hall, survived. Today, the hall is owned by Coy and Joey Dillon and operated as a bed & breakfast. It is open for tours, parties, business meetings, and assorted social events.
The first recorded ghost sighting was during the summer of 1982. While the Dillons were restoring the mansion, Coy Dillon took photos of their work. In a photograph documenting the exterior of the state, a mysterious figure was sighted in one of the windows. Initially, they believed it to be a ghost, but they eventually dismissed it as an illusion produced by light hitting the glass. Three children visiting the bed & breakfast reported seeing a “beautiful lady in a long white gown” sitting on the stairs next to her dog. They asked the Dillons about her, but they knew nothing of her. The couple asked the former owner Grace Jones (the hall’s namesake) about the spirit; she believed it to be her mother, Miz Eliza, and her beloved dog, Barney Doolittle.
Miz Eliza tends to make her presence known to young women and children, likely because she had four daughters of her own. She is a friendly, benign spirit, appearing mostly upstairs and on the stairs themselves. One night, a newlywed doctor and his bride stayed the night at the bed & breakfast. They were suddenly awoken by the ghost of Miz Eliza. The bride was frightened out of her wits and her husband had to sedate her.
Despite all of the reported paranormal activity, the Dillons themselves did not witness any ghosts firsthand until 1994. On a September morning, Coy made coffee and rejoined his wife in the bedroom. He took his old dog, Eloise, outside, where he saw Miz Eliza walk across the porch. When he approached her, she disappeared.
Miss Evans & Pappy King
Miz Eliza’s aunt, Miss Evans (known as “Old Miss” to her friends), and a former servant named Pappy King also haunt Grace Hall. A young woman visiting the hall was unable to sleep following the death of her twin brother. She went outside for a smoke and saw an elderly, white-haired woman walking beside an African-American gentleman, perceived to be Miss Evans and Pappy King. The woman assumed they were also struggling to fall asleep. Just as the woman went to light her cigarette, the spirits disappeared.
The Vanishing Old Man
In 1992, Coy’s boyhood friend and his wife (both schoolteachers) visited Grace Hall. They were awoken by an elderly man standing beside the closet door. When they asked the man what he was doing there, he vanished without a word. The apparition reappeared shortly after a television network decided to run a special on the odd happenings in Selma, Alabama. The show’s psychic stayed in one of the rooms and was also awoken in the middle of the night by the spectral man. On a separate occasion, the same psychic was asked by a mysterious southern voice, “Why are you pokin’ around here?”
Mr. Satterfield was an attorney who boarded at Grace Hall for several years from the late 1800s to 1923. While residing in the hall, he fell in love with Miss Mary, one of Miz Eliza’s daughters. Due to their age difference, the pair never wed, but he willed all of his money to her anyways. The Dillons have left his parlor chair in its place, where his spirit still sits.
According to the Selma-Times Journal, Grace Hall is reportedly no longer haunted, as an Angelican priest was hired to rid the estate of all spirits.
- Haunted Places. “Grace Hall,” www.hauntedplaces.org
- Selma-Times Journal. “Grace Hall no longer haunted,” www.selmatimesjournal.com