When you think of Florida, you think of theme parks, beaches, and spring break. The word “ghost” is unlikely to cross your mind. That is, unless you are interested in the paranormal…
Florida is steeped in history, and has more than its share of ghosts and hauntings.
Let’s take a look at just a few of some of the places around the Sunshine State where you can possibly spy one or two of the ghosts in Florida’s haunted houses.
May Stringer House
Settled in Brooksville, Florida, the May Stringer house was built in 1856 by John May. The land was used as a plantation until his death two years later 1858.
His wife Marena remarried Frank Saxon in 1866. She died in 1869 giving birth to her daughter Jessie May.
All of the deceased members of the May-Saxon family are buried in the burial ground located on the grounds. Mr. Saxon later remarried himself, and sold the house to Dr. Sheldon Stringer.
The property was later bequeathed by the Stringer family to the state of Florida as a museum.
Instead of keeping with the entire look and feel of the home in its original state, the Museum Association has constructed a Victorian military room, a doctor’s office, and an early 1900’s communication room.
Photographs of the before and after renovations can be found here:
Due to the renovation, people have reported being touched, orbs, apparitions, the ghost of “Mr. Nasty” in the attic, cries, and visitors are advised not to touch the doll in Jessie’s crib.
There is not a lot of information regarding the Southernmost Inn. Aside from being a cigar factory in the late 1800’s owned by Key West cigar baron Francisco Marrero, the building was eventually converted into a lesbian-only resort, Pearl’s Rainbow.
I had the chance to spend some time at the hotel when it was still Pearl’s. It still had it’s late Victorian charm intermingled with up-to-date twenty-first century amenities that every guest should expect.
It was also possessed by a ghost.
While most of the haunting of Marrero’s ex-lover Enriquetta is focused in their Fleming Street mansion, it seems that there is yet another ghost that has a connection to him and his factory.
The woman, which myself and my partner had sighted, was a slender woman in Edwardian dress with sad expression.
There also was a male apparition that kept coming and going as well throughout our stay; however, the female was the primary inhabitant of the resort.
We experienced the radio and television going off when they were not plugged in, footsteps, the feeling of being watched, and a male and female talking in our room at night.
We didn’t feel threatened, and neither should the guests of the now established Southernmost Inn.
Ernest Hemingway House
Whether you love ghosts, cats, literature, or all three, one of the most charming landmarks that you must visit in Key West is the Ernest Hemingway House.
The home is nestled in a quiet neighborhood away from the bustle of Duval Street, and overflowing with lush gardens and up to fifty polydactyl cats.
Mr. Hemingway himself lived in the home for several decades until he made Cuba his primary residence in the 1950’s.
The author can still be seen in his home today, allegedly in his writing studio along with his third wife Pauline. He is most often seen watching guests tour his home, from the inside of the house.
A stately two-story home that was built in 1871 by Clara Barkley Dorr. Mrs. Dorr occupied the house after the death of her husband Eben Dorr, with her hefty inheritance of $51,000.
She lived outwardly peacefully until she died in 1898, and did not remarry. For all of her projected normalcy during her lifetime, the home is steeped in the paranormal after her death.
Orbs, vortexes, and white apparitions have been sighted by guests touring the home. Objects have moved on their own accord, women’s skirts have been pulled down, and the odor of roses can be smelled throughout the place.
There is also the sound of crying in an upstairs bedroom, which was attributed to a residual energy of the supposed death of one of Mrs. Dorr’s children in the 1880’s.
However, according to burial records, the youngest Dorr child died at age 19:
There is also the apparition of the “translucent woman” that can be seen dancing madly all over the property.
The translucent woman does not resemble the late Mrs. Dorr, so it is unclear as to who she may have been in life.
1876 Lightkeeper’s House
Substantially younger than the rest of the 16th century buildings in the city, the 1876 Lightkeeper’s House is the best of Florida’s haunted houses.
In the 1800’s, William Harn, along with his wife and six daughters came from Maine to superintend the lighthouse during the period.
The house gives every impression of being cursed in a sense. A workman died due to a construction accident in the early 1800’s, and there was the death of two little girls due to the lumber accident that was well publicized in the 1880’s.
A fire destroyed the building several decades later, where it set empty until the St. Augustine Junior Service League obtained $200,000 in fundraisers and donations to make repairs on the crumbling building between 1981 to 1986.
A Welcome Center, gift shop, and small maritime histories museum encompass the space where burnt timbers once predominated the site.
Most avid ghost-hunters are aware of the story of the St. Augustine lighthouse itself, and focus their energies on that part of the property.
The hauntings seem to spill over from the Lighthouse to the 1876 House, and vice versa.
I was lucky to investigate the property several years ago, and found that there are several spirits in that building that have nothing to do with the Lighthouse itself.
One of the most intense that stands out to me to this day was that of a soldier that inhabited the brick basement area downstairs.
There is no record of any solider’s death, so how he is associated with the basement is a mystery.
There were also the apparitions of two little girls that seem connected with the dolls housed in the glass cases in the basement, and the figure of a woman in 1940’s dress can be seen in the first-floor Welcome Center.
Real Florida Haunted Houses
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