Grace Hall was built in 1857 by Henry Ware as an antebellum mansion in neoclassicism and Victorian style. During the Civil War, much of the city of Selma was damaged or destroyed, but many of the architecturally buildings were left intact (including Grace Hall and Sturdivant Hall). Currently, Grace Hall is owned by Coy and Joey Dillon, and it is operated as a bed and breakfast. It is open for tours, parties, business meetings, and assorted social events.
The first recorded ghost sighting occurred during the summer of 1982. While the Dillons were restoring the mansion, Coy took photos of their work. In one image of the exterior of the house, a mysterious figure appeared in one of the windows. Initially, they believed it was paranormal, but they eventually brushed it off as being an illusion produced by light on the glass.
Three children visiting the B & B reported seeing a “beautiful lady in a long white gown” sitting on the stairway alongside her dog, and they ask the Dillons about her, who know nothing of her. The Dillons then proceed to ask the former owner and the namesake of the hall, Grace Jones, about the spirit. She believes that the ghost is her mother, Miz Eliza, and her beloved dog, Barney Doolittle.
Miz Eliza, having had four daughters of her own, seems to make her presence most known to young women and children. She is a friendly and benign spirit, appearing mostly upstairs and on the stairs. One night, a doctor and his newlywed bride were sleeping in one of the rooms when they were suddenly awoken by the ghost of Miz Eliza. The bride was so frightened that her husband had to sedate her.
Other spirits at Grace Hall include Miz Eliza’s aunt, Miss Evans (known as “Old Miss” by her friends), and Pappy King, a former servant.
One guest, a young woman, was unable to sleep shortly after the death of her twin brother. She went outside for a smoke and saw an elderly, white-haired woman whom she assumed was also having trouble sleeping. She was walking with an African American gentlemen. Just as the young woman went to light her cigarette, the spirits disappeared. The two were believed to have been Miss Evans and Pappy King.
In 1992, Coy’s boyhood friend and his wife, who were both school teachers, visited Grace Hall. The couple were awoken by an elderly man standing beside the closet door. When they asked what the man was doing there, he simply vanished. The man appeared again shortly after a TV network decided to do a special on the odd happenings in Selma. The psychic for the show stayed in one of the rooms, and was awoken by the man in the middle of the night. On a separate occasion, the same psychic was asked by a mysterious voice with a southern drawl, “Why are you pokin’ around here?”.
Even despite all of the reported activity, the Dillons themselves didn’t witness any ghosts firsthand until 1994. On one September morning, Coy got up to get some coffee and he returned to his bedroom with his wife. When his old dog, Eloise, wanted to go outside, he took her out. He saw Miz Eliza walk across the porch and disappear when he approached her.
Another spirit at the Hall is that of Mr. Satterfield, a former attorney who boarded at the Grace Hall for several years. While there, he fell in love with Miss Mary, one of Miz Eliza’s daughters. The two never wed due to their age difference. However, he willed her all of his money anyways. He resided at the hall from the late 1800s to 1923. The Dillons have left his parlor chair in place, as he still sits on it beyond the grave.