Our visit to Jekyll Island’s haunted ‘Millionaire’s Club’

[Kelly Kazek] When I was young and my family lived in Warner Robins, Ga., we spent a week every summer on Jekyll Island, usually with another family or two. We spent most of our time on Jekyll’s famous driftwood beaches (I’ll write more about those later) so I knew very little about the island’s history until I was an adult. I took Baby Girl there in 2008 to learn about its history.

See slideshow below

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Jekyll was the vacation spot for America’s wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts, Morgans and Pulitzers.

In 1886, the men who headed these families incorporated an exclusive (of course) hunting and recreational group and called it the Jekyll Island Club. Not happy with having only a clubhouse, although that would soon follow, the men purchased the entire island for $125,000, or about $3 million in 2017 dollars. The club’s website says Munsey’s Magazine called it, “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world.” It’s no wonder it was nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Club.”

For their summer trips to the island, the families built 18 homes they called “cottages” that were mansions to the regular folk.

When the men built their clubhouse from 1886-1888, they spared no expense. The massive and beautiful club was built in the Queen Anne style, including a turret, and featured numerous suites and game rooms. An annex was completed in 1904. Behind the club, the families docked their yachts at the wharf, all but John Pierpont Morgan, whose Corsair was too large to dock and had to be anchored in the channel.

The club closed at the end of the 1942 season and the owners paid for a staff to keep up the buildings and property until 1947, when the island was sold to the state of Georgia. For a while, the state operated a resort in the club but it closed in 1971.

The club was restored and opened as a luxury resort in 1985 so guests can experience the same splendor as the men who helped shape our nation. According to legends, the club is haunted by various specters, including these three:

The ghost of Lloyd Aspinwall

Aspinwall was the first president of the Jekyll Island Club. He had been working hard on the building of the club, which was constructed from 1886-1888, but in 1886, before it could open, he died. Reportedly, his ghost walks leisurely, hands clasped behind his back, along the Riverfront Veranda of the club. The veranda was converted to a glass-walled room in 1985 and named the Aspinwall Room.

The spirit Samuel Spence

The railroad magnate who founded the Southern Railroad was a member of the club who was struck and killed by one of his own trains in 1906. His spirit allegedly haunts Room 8, which had been his favorite.

The bell hop haunting

A young bell hop, whose name is unknown, reportedly died at the club in the 1920s. Some people claim he works there still …  as a ghost.

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