Real Florida Haunted Houses

Real Florida Haunted Houses

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.

Brooksville

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:

http://www.hernandohistoricalmuseumassoc.com/Photos_Inside/index.html

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.

Key West

Southernmost Inn

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.

Pensacola

Dorr 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:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=53088961

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.

St. Augustine

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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Robert The Doll Curse

Robert The Doll Curse

The history surrounding the Curse of Robert the Doll started during the early 20th century with the Otto family in the town of Key West, Florida.

The doll’s involvement surrounded Mr. and Mrs. Otto’s young son, Robert Eugene, with whom the doll was eventually gifted to.

The cursed doll was made in 1906 by one of the family’s Haitian servants before she was dismissed by the household over allegations of practicing black magic and voodoo.

The Otto family were known to not treat their servants well and were reported to even mistreat them. It is believed that for this reason, the dismissed Haitian servant had placed a curse upon the doll before presenting it to the Otto’s young son as a gift.

The Doll

The doll stood an estimated three feet tall dressed in a sailor’s uniform and decorated with beaded eyes and straw-colored hair.

The DollHe appears with his own doll, a small stuffed animal that he holds underneath his arm. Due to the mistreatment the former servant endured, it is thought that she constructed the doll of human blood, hair, and clothes saturated with liquid of the deceased.

It was also thought that she infused the doll with dark spirits and the famous curse as an act of revenge against the Otto’s mistreatment of her.

She then presented the doll to the young family’s son as a parting gift. The Otto’s son took an immediate liking to the doll, naming it after himself and treating the doll as his constant companion.

Robert the Doll accompanied the Otto’s son on family outings, sat at the dinner table with them and even slept in the bed of the family’s son. This companionship continued throughout the boy’s childhood and into his adult life.

Gene

As the boy got older, he started to refer to himself by his middle name, Gene, after believing that the name Robert was that of the doll’s and not his to have.

Gene often had closed door conversations with Robert the Doll, in which servants sometimes noted a deeper voice answering to the son’s higher voice.

The Otto’s themselves witnessed moments in which their son was found cowering in the corner in apparent fear of the doll, with Robert hovering motionless above him in a menacing manner.

Gene was also becoming increasingly agitated, having outbursts towards his parents and the family’s’ servants in which he always connected to Robert the Doll.

Strange occurrences began to happen, with objects being thrown across the room apparently of their own volition. Additionally, the son’s other toys and possessions were often found mutilated.

When the Otto’s questioned their son about any of the strange events, he was always quick to blame the mischief on Robert the Doll, often quoting “Robert did it”. The boy’s aunt decided to pack up the doll and store him in the attic, to which the mischief resided.

Adult Life

Robert the Doll appeared in Gene’s life many years later after he inherited the Otto family home due to the death of his father. Having grown up to become an artist, Gene moved into his childhood home with his new wife.

Upon moving back into the house, Gene resurfaced his childhood toy and his attachment to Robert the Doll resumed as it had in his younger years.

Gene continued to have Robert the Doll attend outings with the couple, evening dinners and even sat him in a bedside chair next to the newlyweds’ bed.

Gene even built a specific room for Robert the Doll in the turret of the Otto’s home, and eventually Robert spent much of his time there.

Gene accompanied him, spending time on his paintings while conversing with the doll. Neighbors reported seeing the doll move around in the turret windows, and servants spoke of evil laughter or footsteps coming from the apparent uninhabited room.

There were even reports of people being locked in the room against their will…

Fort East Martello Museum

Gene passed away in 1974 in which the Otto house sat empty for a number of years, with Robert the Doll still residing in the Turret Room.

The tenants to follow continued to hear sounds and reported strange happenings with the residing doll, including sounds of demonic giggling and seeing the doll’s facial expression change.

In 1994, Robert the Doll was moved to a local museum, the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West. He sits in a glass box still holding his toy for visitors to see.

Museum staff warn visitors of the continued curse on the doll. The staff notify curious visitors that they must ask Robert to take his photograph, and only to proceed if he has nodded back.

If he has not nodded, a curse will be set on any person who photographs Robert without his permission.

Robert the Cursed Doll’s glass box is decorated with letters from unfortunate visitors who took his picture without his consent, in which they beg Robert to remove his curse upon them.