The Jackson Building Ghost

Posted by junketseo in Asheville Ghost Tours
The Jackson Building Ghost - Photo

Take a look at Asheville, North Carolina’s skyline, and you’ll immediately notice a few stand-out structures jutting high above their neighboring buildings. Each is more unique than the next, as Asheville is known for having diverse architectural styles, but there’s one that’s sure to catch your eye. The Gothic-Revival construction, complete with a towering castle-like peak, helps the L.B. Jackson building stand out against its counterparts along South Market Street. 


One look at the building’s distinct style and its grotesque adornments is sure to stir curiosity about its history. What secrets have been told within the confines of the towering edifice, and who’s paid dearly for them? You can think of many scandalous scenarios tied to the 20th-century building, but the reality is that much of the Jackson building’s past is fairly tame. 


That’s not to say that residual energy from traumatic events isn’t still connected to the gothic facade. Asheville is still a city, after all, and no matter the city, there’s bound to be a storied past of death, both natural and unnatural. Over its decades of looming over Asheville, the Jackson building has accumulated its fair share of ghosts, and these apparitions mark specific moments of misfortune in an otherwise wonted anecdote of Asheville’s 200-year history. 


Who haunts the top floor of the Jackson building?


There’s at least one well-known death that occurred on the eighth floor. But do people still catch a glimpse of the ghost of Frederick M. Messler by the window of his office? An Asheville ghost tour may be your only opportunity to glimpse the tortured real estate tycoon. To hear tales like this and more, take an Asheville ghost tour with Asheville Terrors!


Erecting the Jackson Building


With only 27 x 60 feet of land to work with, real estate developer L.B. Jackson expected a miracle when he commissioned the construction of a neo-gothic skyscraper, the first of its kind in North Carolina. With the real estate market booming in North Carolina in the early 1920s, Jackson saw an opportunity and took it, hoping to use his vision to draw tourism to Asheville. 


As a city (and North Carolina) first, the newly-built Jackson building was a unique sight for locals and distant travelers, who were beckoned to the town by a searchlight that the building’s owner hoped would draw in more visitors. Despite its gothic appearance and the inclusion of decorative stone statues or grotesques jutting from the building’s face, there was no blatantly ominous history surrounding its construction. It was simply conceptualized, planned, and built as its namesake had envisioned.


The location’s history has an interesting link to another well-known North Carolina family thought to be haunting several locations throughout Asheville. Before becoming the site of the Jackson building, this small swatch of land belonged to Julia Elizabeth Wolfe, mother of author Thomas Wolfe and wife of stonecutter and tombstone maker W.O. Wolfe. Monuments at the base of the Jackson building even depict a half-finished tombstone and bronze carving tools like the ones W.O. Wolfe used in his trade.


Even with this link to the past, none of these prominent names of Asheville are expected to be the haunts of this 140-foot-tall skyscraper. 


Who’s Legacy is Linked to the Jackson Building?


As Thomas Wolfe’s memorial in Asheville is home to a spirit or two, one could suggest that the residual energy of W.O. Wolfe’s laboring over markings for the deceased could be captured in the Jackson building. Unfortunately, though, the Wolfe legacy seems less tied to the Jackson building today despite having a direct tie to it. 


Rather, the ghosts of the Jackson building are the product of a tragic energy brought about by sorrow and suicide. W.O.’s legacy will forever be tied to L.B. Jackson’s skyscraper, but another name comes up when scouring the building’s mostly uneventful history. 


Since its completion, the building has never been open to the public. Always a place of business, it’s housed city inspectors who used its stature to watch for excessive smoke billowing from nearby coal furnaces and real estate moguls navigating the fluctuations of the real estate market. One such mogul made the Jackson building his permanent home. 


Specifics on the death of Frederick M. Messler have long since been lost to time, but it’s reported that on April 5, 1930, the real estate tycoon went to the eighth floor of the Jackson building and took his life. Allegedly, Messler had an office on the sixth floor and was suffering from an illness that would have killed him. So, he took a Spanish revolver and his fate into his own hands.


Messler was also likely dealing with the unstable real estate market during the Great Depression and saw no way out of a poor financial situation. He wouldn’t have been the only one to end their life in the Jackson, either, as some claim that two people jumped from an upper floor at the start of the Great Depression.


The Ghosts of the Jackson Building


Is there a bullseye in the brick in front of the Jackson building, marking where a businessman lept to his death? It’s one of several legends surrounding the Jackson building and a possible tie to one of the apparitions said to be seen pacing an upper floor of the building. 


Whether Messler’s spirit haunts his sixth-floor office or other unnamed specters amble through Asheville’s first skyscraper can only be confirmed by those who pay close attention to the tallest windows of the 13-story building. Maybe it’s even the ghost of L.B. Jackson himself, checking in on his most impressive work while remaining close to the five generations of real estate developments his heirs have been responsible for. 


On our blog, you can read more about the impressive structure or even get a deeper look into Asheville’s past and the Wolfe family. Be sure to also check out our socials ond, and book your Asheville ghost tour today.