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ROOMS WITH A PAST
TEXAS HOTELS BUILT BEFORE 1950 :
Number 1 in a Series

Schulenburg's Heartbreak Hotel
The Uninvited at the Von Minden

Page 2

The Cozy Theater

Another visit, another family member
and another ghost

Schulenburg, Texas


by John Troesser

Schulenburg  Texas Girl Scout Troop I - old photo
Mrs. Speckel and Schulenburg Girl Scout Troop I
Photo courtesy of Schulenburg Historical Museum, the Speckels family & Herzig family.

Page 1

We met Momma a few days later and recognized the same warm manner and friendliness of her son and grandson. She was able to explain how the Hotel was able to remain in the thirties while the world turned (and Schulenburg resisted). A couple named Speckels had owned the Cozy Theater and Von Minden Hotel since it was built in 1927. Mrs. Speckels (nee Von Minden) took care of the Hotel while Mr. Speckles ran the theater. She also formed Schulenburg's Girl Scout Troop, the only one in the Country with its own marching band.

While common in the northeast, theater-hotels were quite rare in Texas and the Von Minden is the last of its tribe. Mr. Von Minden financed the building as a wedding present. The Pettits bought the place in 1977 and busily went about not changing a thing. Mr. Pettit is an attorney with his office on the second floor, next to the projection room. The Speckles retired a few blocks away where they passed away several years apart.

One day while walking through the dark theater to turn on the theater marquee, Mrs. Pettit was halfway down the aisle, expecting the rigid feel of a chair back, when her hand struck human (?) flesh. Nothing quite feels like the human hand, and that's what she felt. After the initial surprise, she had the comforting feeling that the hand's owner was Mrs. Speckles. The Late Mrs. Speckles, early for the screening.

"Momma" tells us that the rise in multi-plex theaters has actually helped film distribution. When a first-run film is replaced as interest wanes, more prints are available for the small town theaters. Visit the Von Minden and/or the Cozy Theater. Prices are a reasonable 40.00 single or double for the hotel, and the movies are nightly and fresh from the big city. $4.00 for adults. Pizza is available before, after, or during the show. If you see the girl in the polka dot dress, tell her to get a life.

Ghost Story becomes Love Story

Yet another visit brought a meeting with Mr. Bill Pettit, who filled in a few of the blanks and provided us with more details. First of all, he explained the jumper was ironically a paratrooper who had lost his leg and was badly disfigured when his drop plane was shot down. After spending time in a Prisoner of War Camp, he returned to a family who had only been notified he was "missing in action". Upon his arrival he was given a batch of letters written by Miss Polka Dot, one of which was a "Dear John". Although she had changed her mind, he read that letter out of sequence and jumped. Dot showed up the afternoon after the sad event and it's room 37 she's asking directions for. So, we've met the entire Pettit family and filled in all the details except how the girl became a ghost. If you know of an epilogue to this story, please keep it to yourself.

Mr. Pettit, also told us that Mrs. Speckel's Girl Scout Troop would sometimes camp out on the roof of the Von Minden. More about the Speckels can be found in Schulenburg and the Work Ethic. The Pettits have aquired a lovely bungalow style house close to the theater and will be opening it as a Bed and Breakfast early next year.

John Troesser
Published 2000



Readers' Comments

  • After reading your story on the Von Minden my wife and I visited there and true enough no one was in sight. We ventured up to each floor and took some photos. My wife, who is somewhat of a medium, felt a strong presence of spirits in the hotel.... My opinion is there are definitely some ghostly presence in the old hotel. Next time we want to enter the theatre and see what we can see. ( The photo of the lobby shows a ghostly figure standing outside of the back door.) ( The hallway photo shows ghostly orbs outside of room 23.) - James and Connie Bryant

  • ...I am 13 years old and live in Schulenburg. The article that you wrote on the Cozy theater/ Von minden hotel was very informative. I have frequented this place many times and am good friends with the Pettit family, especially Garret and his sister, Kari (who is also my sunday school teacher). In fact, I was just at the Cozy last night to see the movie Lord of the Rings. When I found the movie boring, 2 friends and I went to Momma's to hang out. I have been to numerous birthday parties at Momma's and we've always heard stories about the ghosts, but we never really knew the facts. Well, as I was saying, we talked to some of our good friends, and employees of the Pettits about the ghosts. I've always found the hotel a friendly place (possibly because of the friendliness of the owners). I am very curious about this place and my friends and I are going there tonight to do some "ghost hunting" I will definetely be in room 37... Thank you, Keri Brower



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