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If ever there was a place that deserved the moniker of a haunted place, the Hotel Warm Springs deserves it. It’s old. It’s dilapidated and it has that old feel of former grandeur that has long since passed. It was the sight of a double murder. And, it has a history of ghostly sightings.
For the last 30 years, the hotel has been owned and run by Gerrie Thompson. A beautiful lady who has thrown her life into the property working around the clock to keep it going. Usually, it’s Gerrie who greets you at the door. However, when my 15 year old son Jacob and I arrived at the hotel she was next door at the Tuscawilla Soda Shop, an ice cream parlor that was frequented by President Roosevelt himself, making her famous fudge.
Finding the door to the hotel locked, we dutifully called the number posted on the door and Gerrie quickly arrived to unlock the door and check us in. While waiting for her to unlock the door, I noticed something odd under our feet. Outside the entrance to the hotel, spelled out in a white and blue mosaic tile, was the name Hotel Tuscawilla. Gerrie later confirmed that the original owner had loved the name so much that he named his hotel and his daughter Tuscawilla after a Creek Indian princess.
The history of the place immediately hits you when you first walk in. It’s like walking into a time capsule. Immediately behind the front check in counter is something you only see in the movies, a telephone operators switchboard for connecting hotel guest to the world. And then, there’s the old wooden lobby telephone booth. Quaint fixtures from a time in history long past.
Like most properties of this age, it has seen better days and has been remodeled several times since being built in 1907. The hotel was built on the site of the oldest known building in town.
Kings and Queens have stayed here.
During President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time in Warm Springs, the hotel was home to the King and Queen of Spain, the Queen of Mexico, movie star Bette Davis, President Sergio Osmena of the Philippines, and other VIPs. President Roosevelt’s secret service men and the press often stayed at the hotel.
The hotel is also the site of a sensational double homicide in 1915 involving the owner of the hotel and a son of a prominent family after whom the town, Bullochville, was originally named.
According to an article in the Atlanta Constitution published on September 10, 1915, the double homicide occurred in the dining room of the hotel. The shooting involved G.A. Thompson, who owned the hotel, and Sam Bulloch who was only 24 years old (the article gets his age wrong). The following is an excerpt from that article titled, “Hotel Man Killed; Slayer Is Dying:”
In Dying Condition, Hotel Proprietor Wrests Pistol From Slayer and Returns Three Deadly Bullets.
Columbus, Ga., September 9. – (Special.) — G.A. Thompson, agent of the Southern railway and proprietor of the Tuscawilla hotel at Bullochville, Ga. (now named Warm Springs, Ga.) , and a member of a leading family at Bullochville, is in a dying condition early tonight, the result of a sensational shooting affray in the dining room of the hotel this afternoon at 2 o’clock.
Reports from Bullochville are that Bulloch was in the dining room of the hotel creating a disturbance and that Thompson reproved him and then stepped out to get the town marshal to have him removed. Not seeing the marshal, he asked W.B. Butts, a friend of Bulloch’s, to remove him. Butts induced Bulloch to leave the dining room and Thompson asked the guest to leave the dining room, saying that he feared trouble. It is stated that just then Bulloch broke loose from Butts and ran inside the dining room, drawing his pistol and shooting Thompson, who seized him. Thompson, Bulloch and Butts were all struggling for the pistol, but Thompson succeeding in getting it and remarking that he was going to die and that he would get the man who shot him, began firing at Bulloch despite earnest pleas. The first shot struck Bulloch in the breast and he fell to the floor and Thompson then shot him three times, two of the bullets lodging in his head. With the last shot Thompson fell to the floor, dying almost before anyone could reach him.
Thompson has been railroad agent at Warm Springs for a good many years and a year or two ago bought the handsome three-story Tuscawilla
hotel from W.B. Butts at a reported consideration of $10,000. He leaves a family.
Bulloch is a 28 years old and unmarried. He is a member of the prominent Bulloch family for whom Bullochville is named.
Various versions have reached Columbus as to the reason of the original disturbance in the hotel, in which Bulloch is said to have figured. One report is that Bulloch became angered at one of the waiters and was about to punish him when the proprietor of the hotel interfered. Whatever the nature of the trouble Thompson thought it best to have Bulloch removed from the dining room.
A long-distance message from Bullochville early tonight stated that Bulloch was shot in the chest, over the eye and in the head, that his spinal column was struck by one of the bullets and that there is seemingly no possible hope for him to recover.
The Atlanta Constitution Sept 10,1915 Front page
And this my friends, was the hotel I had chosen to stay overnight in with my son Jacob. Would we see a ghost before visiting “The Little White House” the following day? A lot of other visitors before us have claimed to have seen or felt spirits wandering the hotel. Are Thompson and Bulloch still locked in battle for eternity within the hotel walls?
We didn’t see any ghosts. But as I’ve said, when you step into the building it is like going back in time. A time permanently stuck in the Roosevelt era of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The lobby is filled with Roosevelt memorabilia and the earliest known pictures of the town.
The most haunting tale of all in Warm Springs has to be that of President Roosevelt himself. The 32nd President of the United States built the only house he ever owned in the small community of Warm Springs. A house he died in while sitting for his portrait. And, he is famously connected to the family of Bullochville’s most notorious murderer through his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt (Traitor to His Class by H. W. Brands).
FDR fell in love with Bullochville and encouraged the name change to Warm Springs for the therapeutic waters that flowed there and from which he found his spirit and life rejuvenated. If there’s a restless spirit running around Warm Springs, our guess is — it’s that of FDR himself.
If you decide to make a reservation at The Hotel Warm Springs, you should know that there’s a hidden floor between the first and second floors. A space big enough for a person to stand and walk around, says owner Gerrie Thompson.
A perfect place for the ghosts and restless spirits of Warm Springs to roam.
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