Florida has a lot of history, including the oldest city in the country–and with history usually comes ghost stories. There are plenty of tales of strange happenings around the state. Here are a few that we found, but we’d love to hear about your experiences or stories you’ve heard, as well.
1. The ghost of Ashley's Restaurant
A lot of strange things have been reported at Ashley's, located on US1 in Rockledge. People have reported seeing dishes and other objects fly around, feeling hands pushing them, and even seeing the ghost of a young woman in the ladies' room. While there were several legends told to explain these phenomena, investigators found a true story to back up only one of them. When Ashley's opened in 1933, it was called Jack's Tavern, and it was owned by Jack Allen. A 19-year-old woman named Ethel Allen (possibly related) either frequented or worked at the tavern. In 1934, she was the victim of a grisly murder, and her burned and mutilated body was found in the Indian River. Her murderer was never found. It's believed that Ethel is likely the ghost that haunts the restaurant to this day.
2. Thomas and Lucinda
The iconic Don Cesar in St. Pete Beach is said to be haunted by its original owner, Thomas Rowe, and his sweetheart, Lucinda. Guests have reported seeing him in walking the beach in his signature white suit.
3. Judge John B. Stickney and the other spirits of the Hugenot Cemetery
The Hugenot Cemetery opened in 1821 across the street from the historic City Gate in St. Augustine. This was followed soon after by a yellow fever epidemic that swept through the town, claiming many lives. Reported sightings of ghostly visions and orbs floating through the cemetery late at night are very common. The ghost of a girl in white who was buried in the cemetery has been said to appear standing on top of the City Gate. She was supposedly a victim of the yellow fever epidemic, but her body was left at the gate and no one ever claimed her. Thus, she was buried at the Hugenot Cemetery. Another legendary ghost from this cemetery is an old Reconstruction-era judge named John B. Stickney, who died on a long trip to Washington, D.C. and was buried in the Hugenot Cemetery. His body was later exhumed so it could be buried elsewhere, and somehow a couple of drunks stole his gold teeth in the process. Now, he haunts the cemetery in search of his teeth. Whether these specific stories have any historical truth, the Hugenot Cemetery is nonetheless rumored to be very haunted.
4. Enriquetta of Marrero's Guest Mansion
This Victorian bed and breakfast in Key West was built by Francisco to convince his love, Enriquetta, to join him there. After he died, Enriquetta discovered he had a previous wife she never knew about, who forced her and her children to leave the house. Her spirit has been known to swing the chandelier and to pay visits to guests who stay in her room.
5. The Mysterious Spirits of Sanford's historic Fire Station
This historic 1887 building was lovingly restored by a local artist, but soon afterward she started experiencing strange things. Pebbles would fall from nowhere, and she heard footsteps that seemed to be coming from the third floor -- except that there isn't a third floor anymore. The building itself served many purposes for the small town, having been a fire station, jail, armory and city hall. The old third floor once served as a courtroom. The ghost could be related to the court room, or it could be one of the many firemen who met an untimely end while serving the town of Sanford. There was also a fireman who was murdered by his wife in the late '60s. The haunting could also possibly be related to a hanging on the grounds in 1923 when it was still part of the town jail. There's also a possibility, according to a vision experienced by the new owner, that the ghost could be that of a boy who was kicked by a horse while bringing water to the men building the firehouse. Whatever the explanation, it's definitely a good thing that she isn't afraid of ghosts.
6. The Biltmore's resident mobster
A mobster who was supposedly killed in a gambling dispute in this historic hotel in Coral Gables is said to remain there in spirit. Guests have reported lights turned on and off and the elevator going to the wrong floor. He also reportedly holds doors open for the restaurant's waitresses.
7. Catalina, the ghostly bride who haunts Harry's
Though the exact story isn't known, the building that is now home to Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill in St. Augustine dates back to the mid 1700s, and was later destroyed in the fire of 1887. Catalina was one of nine children raised by the family that originally owned the house. In the late 1780s, she regained ownership of the house after the Spanish regained control of St. Augustine, but she died only six years later. Many people think Catalina is the ghost who haunts her beloved childhood home, though the reason is unclear. Reported activity is focused mainly in the upstairs bathroom, but the courtyard and other areas have also sometimes been sited. There have been reports of a fleeting visions of both a woman in white and occasionally a man in an old-fashioned black suit. You can see why St. Augustine is often called Florida's most haunted city.
Have you been to any of these places? What were your experiences? Have you heard of any other stories or had any of your own encounters? Please share your comments with us below!