South Florida Haunts:
The Riddle House in Yesteryear Village was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” in 2008. Built in 1905, the Riddle House was a funeral parlor at Woodlawn Cemetery, the first cemetery in the city of West Palm Beach. Rumored entities include a Confederate soldier who was shot and killed in the Pineapple Processing Plant. At the Riddle House, an accused thief named Joseph hanged himself in the attic while a little boy, Andrew, fell from a window to his death.
The Blue Anchor Pub is located on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. It was originally founded in Britain in 1864, which is where the murder of Bertha Starkey took place over 100 years ago. Her husband sliced her up in a fit of jealous rage and Bertha’s spirit has never left. She made the trip across the Atlantic with the building and now her footsteps are often heard across the ceiling at night and activity seems to peak around the anniversary of her murder each year.
The Stranahan House on the New River in Fort Lauderdale was built in 1901. It’s the oldest house in Fort Lauderdale. Built by Frank and Ivy Stranahan, it first served as a trading post that lured Seminoles down the New River to do business. Battling depression and bad health, Frank committed suicide in 1929, drowning in the New River in front of the home. Over the years, it transformed into a post office, boarding house and a restaurant.
Coral Castle was built by a 26-year-old Latvian immigrant, named Edward Leedskalnin, in 1913. He fell in love with Agnes Scuffs, who was only 16. She broke it off the night before their wedding, apparently because of the age difference. Edward moved to Florida City in 1920 and spent the next 28 years quarrying rock and chiseling out the Coral Castle, an 1,100-ton monument to her. He worked secretly by night for years under lamplight. He carved a throne room and telescope, a fountain and sundial, furniture and walls — a Herculean feat for a 5-foot-tall, 100-pound man. In 1936, Ed somehow moved the castle to Homestead. Edward would tell people, “I think I’ve learned the secrets of the pyramids.” He appears to have known he laws of physics and weights and balances and electromagnetic energy. Ed died in 1951 and the Coral Castle became a museum in the 1980s.
The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables was built in 1926. During World War II it became a hospital for soldiers. It was once the tallest building in Florida and at one time it had the biggest pool in the world. The hotel has been seen in various movies and television shows, including Miami Vice and Bad Boys. Fatty Walsh, the mobster who was killed in the hotel during a gambling dispute is said to still reside here. Guests have reported seeing a woman in white in their rooms. It’s believed she is the ghost of a woman who jumped out of the tower. A dancing couple is also seen in the ballroom waltzing across the floor and then suddenly vanishing.
The Devil Tree – On January 8, 1971 a cop by the name of Gerard John Schaefer finds two teenagers hitchhiking. He shows his badge and puts them in the back of his car. He eventually binds them, tortures them and then hangs them from a tree right beside his house. After killing them, he decapitates them, and then starts having sex with their decaying bodies for the next 10 days. The headless skeletons of these two girls, Collette Goodenough and Barbara Ann Wilcox were discovered underneath the tree. Two ropes were left hanging from one of the branches by Schaefer to remember this incident. Schaefer went on to kill about 34 people before getting caught. Devil worshipers and supporters Schaefer start performing satanic rituals on this tree. In the year 2000, this place was turned into a park. Authorities had had enough of these ghost stories, so they decided to cut down the tree. Two men came in with chainsaws and as soon as they began, both the chainsaws malfunctioned. They got into their trucks and were driving to get more chainsaws, when they had a fatal accident. The driver had a piece of the tree’s bark in his pocket. This incident has created the legend that if you want to jinx someone, take a piece of the devil’s tree and put it in their car. They will have an accident within the next 21 days. If you want to visit this place, walk by the big river and don’t take the Oak trail. Take the 2nd left and you will reach the Devil’s tree right away.
Lake Worth Playhouse – This building dates back to 1924 and was built by two brothers, Lucien and Clarence Oakley. Their dream was to own a movie palace and vaudeville house, but those dreams were dashed when the full weight of the Great Depression struck and they lost ownership of the theater for good. Lucien refused to leave, however. The premises are said to be haunted by Lucien, whose ghost has appeared in mirrors and been blamed for moving things around. Footsteps have also been reported here from the empty catwalk.
The Flagler Museum is a 75-room mansion that was built by Henry Flagler as a wedding gift for his third wife, Mary Lily. The couple moved in on February 6, 1902, and supposedly never left. They used the home as a winter retreat, entertaining constantly until 1913, when 83-year-old Henry died after tumbling down the marble staircase. Mary Lily died four years later. And now some contend that broken dishes, jammed locks and unexplained voices are evidence that the couple is still entertaining from beyond the grave.
Gilbert’s Bar-House of Refuge is the oldest surviving building in Martin County. It is on Hutchinson Island. Designated as a haven for shipwrecked sailors, this house was built in 1876. The facility also served as a lookout for enemy submarines in World War II. A possible cult started here. People lived here with a man they claimed to be some kind of Messiah. It turned out that the man was a doctor named Cyrus Teed, later renaming himself Koresh. This new name came from the religion of “Koreshanity”. More than 250 people stayed at the location while following Koresh. Koresh passed away in 1908, and his body was propped up for weeks until it had to be disposed of. His body was placed in a mausoleum soon after and has since been washed away by a powerful hurricane. The spirits of those who lived at the location are said to linger the grounds. Witnesses have reported hearing phantom footsteps and seeing people appearing and quickly disappearing. Guests have smelled the aroma of beef stew wafting out of the kitchen, which hasn’t been operational since the 1940s.
Fort East Martello (Artist House) in Key West – In 1904, a Bahamian servant girl gave four-year-old Robert “Gene” Otto a handmade 4-foot tall doll, stuffed with wood wool and painted with a creepy-looking face. The doll may have had a voodoo curse put on it to get back at the boy’s parents, who were reportedly not well-liked by the servants. Gene, obsessed with his gift, named the doll Robert and made it his new best friend. As he got older, he started to blame Robert the Doll for all sorts of mishaps. People who would pass by the home would see Robert in the window and disappear a second later.
The City of Miami Cemetery is the oldest burial ground in Miami and it is home to the Earthly remains of several well known names including the likes of Julia Tuttle, The Burdine Family and Carrie Miller – the woman who was buried in her bed rather than in a casket! The military section is home to 66 confederate soldiers and 27 union soldiers and it is these Civil War soldiers who are said to be responsible for haunting the cemetery. The Humanities building of Florida Atlantic University is the home of a female spirit who students and security staff have reported seeing crying and sometimes slamming doors up on the third floor.
The Witches Wall of Palm Beach
There is a door made of rusty, iron bars set in a coral wall that creates a narrow passage, known as the Palm Beach Coral Cut, on Country Club Road. Legend has it that a witch lived in a house above the coral and kidnapped the children of the island. The children would be locked in a cage in the rock until they were dead. The witch would then stuff the corpses into the holes in the coral, and the child’s soul would be forever trapped in the cage. If a passing traveler touches the cage, one of the souls is set free, but the witch must rise again and hunt to replace the lost soul
A young woman of an affluent family that was in love with a man they did not like. She apparently made a pact with the Devil to be able to turn into a fox. She used a tunnel that went from the house to a hole in that wall to secretly meet with her young man. The parents found out and barred the hole. In a rage she murdered them and when she was arrested, she was placed on House Arrest. She tried to escape as a fox but died in the attempt. They say you can see her glowing green eyes from the barred tunnel at night.