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Which Historic Hotel was once a member's-only club for the world’s most powerful people and is still said to be home to some of their spirits today?

Conspiracy theorists often talk of exclusive societies, where powerful members pull the strings and rewrite the course of history behind closed doors. Although, for the Jekyll Island Club Resort off the coast of Georgia, this isn’t simply speculation—it’s part of the hotel’s illustrious past. Opened in 1888, the Jekyll Island Club quickly became a wintertime hideaway for some of the era’s most prominent businessmen and their families, counting moguls like J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field as co-owners.

Clubhouse of Jekyll Island Club

Clubhouse of the Jekyll Island Club, Jekyll Island, GA

Soon enough, the coastal retreat would go on to be called “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world,” representing an astounding one-sixth of the globe’s wealth. Though largely conceived of as a member’s-only hunting club for the era’s elite, this wasn’t just a social gathering spot. In fact, the Jekyll Island Club played host to its fair share of influential moments, including the clandestine drafting of the Federal Reserve and the country’s first transcontinental phone call between the likes of President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, DC, Alexander Graham Bell in New York, and the then-president of AT&T, Theodore Newton Vail, at the Jekyll Island Club. And the rest, as they say, is history.

First transcontinental phone call with Theodore Newton Vail, then-president of AT&T

Then-president of AT&T, Theodore Newton Vail, participating in the first transcontinental phone call, Jekyll Island, GA, January 25, 1915

Fortunately, guests needn’t be millionaires to stay at the Jekyll Island Club Resort today. Those who do choose to visit this grand hotel, however, will undoubtedly be in good company. While the island escape no longer exclusively plays host to history’s wealthiest movers and shakers, legend tells that some of them still roam its storied grounds to this day. J. Pierpont Morgan, financial tycoon and former resident of Sans Souci Cottage, loved to relax on the summer home’s porch in the early morning, reflecting on the day ahead while puffing on his favorite cigar and watching the Jekyll River flow by. More recent guests staying in Morgan’s historic apartment report being woken up by a whiff of cigar smoke wafting on the breeze even though there is no one else around.

Construction of Sans Souci Cottage at Jekyll Island Club in 1896

Construction of Sans Souci Cottage, the vacation home of J.P. Morgan, Jekyll Island, GA, 1896

Samuel Spencer, a railroad magnate, was the former president of the Southern Railway Company and another club member. Another early riser, he would often start his day with a cup of coffee and the latest edition of the Wall Street Journal. It seems that he’s still carrying on his morning ritual to this day, as guests who have stayed in his room have returned to find their newspaper mysteriously rifled through and java partially sipped. But these aren’t the only spirits wandering the Jekyll Island Club Resort’s halls. Soon-to-be grooms have mentioned seeing what appears to be a bellman in an old-fashioned uniform dutifully delivering a freshly pressed suit for their impending nuptials. Or, perhaps that is just their pre-wedding jitters talking.

Crane Cottage of Jekyll Island Club

Crane Cottage, Jekyll Island, GA

This has been a Historic Hotels History Mystery.

For more fun facts, trivia, and historic highlights, check out our History Mystery pages for Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. Subscribe to our newsletter below and follow us on social media to play along.

Question: Which Historic Hotel was once a member's-only club for the world's most powerful people and is still said to be home to some of their spirits today?

  1. Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel
  2. Union League Club of Chicago
  3. Jekyll Island Club Resort
  4. The American Club
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