In 1842 the US Congress passed the Armed Occupation Act as an incentive to populate Florida. Basically, it said anyone who moved to Florida built a house on 5 acres and lived there for 5 years would be granted a 160 acre homestead.
Richard Wiggins was granted the original homestead for this property but in 1855 John May bought it. Mr May built a 4 room house on the property and lived there with his wife, Marena, and their 2 daughters Matilda and Annie.
John would die from tuberculosis only 3 years after buying the property.
Marena and their daughters continued to live in the house through the civil war. After the war Marena would marry again – to a hero of the Confederacy; Frank Saxon – but died in 1869 giving birth to their child: Jessie Mae.
Jessie Mae survived her birth but died of unknown causes 3 years later.
John May, Marena and Jessie Mae are all buried on the property as well as an infant son of John and Marena.
Frank Saxon sold the house to Dr Sheldon Stringer and moved on to marry again and build his own house. The doctor added 10 rooms to the house – creating the appearance it has today – and ran his practice out of the house as well.
There were many owners after Dr Stringer until Dr Earl Hensley sold it to the Hernando Historical Museum Association in 1980.
The Association converted the house into a museum with each room showcasing a different part of Victorian life.
This location is considered one of the most haunted houses in Florida. Many of the house’s ghosts came attached to the thousands of antiques that have been brought into the house.
The apparition of Marena May has been seen throughout the house since shortly after she passed. She seems to be searching for something; most people surmise it to be her daughter Jessie Mae. The cries of Jessie for her lost mother are also heard.
There is another ghost that has been named both Mr Nasty as well as just plain Gary. Obviously encounters with him can be rather unpleasant and he is known for placing curses on visitors. He generally sticks to the attic and is known for foul language on recordings.
Jessie Mae herself is known for becoming very unhappy if someone messes with her toys. Her apparition, as a baby, is seen crawling on the floor to her crib. The sounds of someone playing in the room when it is empty are often heard.
John May is also said to haunt the house although there are no reports of his apparition.
The apparition of an unknown woman with her hair in a tight bun has been seen.
The ghost of a World War I era soldier also haunts the house; he said to have committed suicide there.
Other Reported Activity: shadow figures; disembodied voices; phantom footsteps; cold spots; doors open and closing on their own; the phantom crying of a baby; electrical disturbances; light anomalies and feelings of being watched and not being alone.
In the late 19th century, there was no Daytona Beach, only a small seaside town called Seabreeze. Where The Plaza Resort now stands the Hotel Clarendon was opened in 1895.
The Clarendon had a casino, a horse stable, state of the art accommodations and a huge porch facing the ocean. The area was filled hotels, restaurants and shops at the time that attracted both locals and tourists alike.
Then in February of 1909 – with the hotel fully booked - the Clarendon burnt to the ground killing an unknown number of guests and staff with it.
During renovations sealed off underground rooms and corridors were found thought to be part of the original hotel that burned down.
The new Clarendon was rebuilt on the same spot and opened on New Year’s Day of 1911 as a massive 7 story complex. It even had a Turkish bath and an 18 hole golf course.
In 1940 the hotel changed it’s name to the Clarendon Plaza Hotel. From 1942 – 1944 the US government took over ownership of the hotel and it functioned as the barracks for the Women’s Army Corp.
In late 1944 the Sheraton Corporation took over ownership and changed then name again to the Sheraton Plaza Hotel.
During the 1950’s a new owner would change the name of the hotel once again to the Daytona Plaza Hotel. In 1968 it became the Plaza Hotel and Motor Inn and in 1969 the hotel was expanded by more doubling the number of rooms.
In 1986 and 1990 the entire hotel was put through renovations completely modernizing for the upcoming 21st century guests. In 2000 the spa was opened.
The hotel is primarily said to be haunted by those who perished in the 1909 fire as well as other guests who have passed away in the hotel during it’s long history.
In 2013 security cameras captured – see video below - what is described as a shape changing ghost in the Veranda Bar & Grill. All “normal” reasons for what was captured have been ruled out and it still remains a mystery what was actually captured by the camera.
The ghost of a maintenance man in overalls has been seen throughout the hotel.
A little girl – thought to have died in the fire – is seen in the hotel kitchen and is thought to be responsible for the elevators opening and closing as well traveling from floor to floor all on their own late at night.
Many claim a former manager haunts the hotel as well.
Other Activity: misty apparitions; cold spots; electric disturbances; shadow figures and unexplained sounds such as keys rattling and phantom giggles and laughter.
1290 Circle Drive
Status: Former Medical Clinic; Hospital; Formerly Abandoned; Museum & Historical Building
This site opened in 1939 as a one storey clinic by Dr Ralph Spires. In 1949 it became a two-storey hospital.
While the hospital was segregated, with a separate entrance and ward – both of which are still intact – for African Americans, Dr Spires did admit African Americans from day one. In the times this was almost a miracle; most other doctors in the south refused to provide medical care no matter what.
The doctors of this hospital were far ahead of their time in providing advancements in polio vaccinations, women’s health and the reduction of infant deaths.
The hospital was closed in 1972 and left abandoned.
In 2013 the Florida Chautauqua Association bought the building saving it from being demolished as it had become so run down.
In 2021 they and the Florida Division of Historical Resources helped the site become recognized and added to the National Register of Historic Places. This also secured a grant of $50,000 for renovations and restorations.
The building is now the headquarters for the Florida Chautauqua Assembly as well as a museum. It is also used for numerous community events throughout the years.
While not common a few groups have been allowed to do an investigation.
Reported Paranormal Activity
Apparitions of former staff and patients including faces appearing in the windows; time slips; feelings of not being alone and being watched; shadow figures; EVPs including Class A and light anomalies.
By Jon Proctor - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="http://www.airlinefan.com/airline-photos/1345298/Eastern-Air-Lines/Lockheed/L-1011-TriStar/N310EA/">http://www.airlinefan.com/airline-photos/1345298/Eastern-Air-Lines/Lockheed/L-1011-TriStar/N310EA/</a>, GFDL 1.2, Link
Just before midnight on December 29, 1972 Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crashed into the Florida Everglades killing 101 passengers and crew.
The cockpit crew had become focused on a burned out landing gear light upon approach to Miami International Airport. The plane delayed landing due to the dark indicator light and were told by the tower to go into a holding pattern over the Everglades at 2000 feet.
Somehow the autopilot was disengaged and the plane began to lose altitude unbeknownst to the flight crew. The plane struck the ground at 227 mph (365 kph) in the middle of a turn. The left wing hit first, then the left engine and finally the fuselage. The fuselage kept moving through grass and water breaking apart.
During the rescue on the rescuers on an airboat saw a pale eyeless body floating just below the surface of the water. When he looked away and back again it had disappeared. The water was very shallow so the body could not have sunk out of view.
To this day people report feeling uneasy at the crash site and hearing phantom whimpers and screaming.
Ghosts Of The Skies!
When most people think of a haunted location they think of a haunted house. Those of us who spend our lives searching for haunted locations learn very quickly that there are many other locations that are haunted as often or more often than houses including hospitals, schools, cemeteries etc. All of these locations have no thing in common; they are stationary places on the landscape and do not move about. The haunted hospital on the edge of town is not going to be gone next week having moved over to the next town. One common exception to this rule is hotel rooms which have repeatedly shown the ability to move to another room if the active room remains unused or is sealed up.
Haunted objects are the main exception to this rule. There are many stories of a haunted object which will take a haunting from one location to another when they, themselves, are moved. There are also haunted people who move from location to location although of them are simply poltergiests which are hauntings at all but rather a manifestation of psychic power.
What about haunted locations that are constantly on the move? Wait a minute that contradicts everything that was stated above; haunted locations cannot just simply get up and move on their own. Yet some can, the most common being ships at sea although most of the documented stories are of ships that are currently at permanent mooring. Most of these ships were haunted when they traveled the sea but sailors are considered a superstitious lot and most of the stories were dismissed as just that until the ship was permanently moored becoming a hotel or museum. The same can be said for trains which are most commonly identified as haunted either once they have been taken out of service or at accident sites where train crashes have taken place in the past.
There is one more mode of travel missing though; airplanes. And yes, there are plenty of planes that have been identified as haunted once they were taken out of service and displayed in a museum. But there are a few stories (and one famous one) of planes that were haunted that were still being used. Upon doing a little research it was quickly discovered that this is much common that usually believed.
The most famous of these is the ghosts of eastern Airlines Flight 401. 401 crashed in the Florida Everglades on December 29, 1972 after the flight crew became so distracted by a burned out light for the nose landing gear and missed the fact that the autopilot had been accidentally turned off. The plane gradually lost altitude, it was at night so no one could see the approaching ground, until it flew right into the ground at a speed of 227 miles an hour resulting in the deaths of 101 of the 178 people aboard. Both the captain and the co-pilot were killed as result of the crash; the co-pilot in the crash and the captain before he could be removed from the flight deck.
Eastern Airlines and another airline both used salvaged parts of the Lockheed 1011-1 Tristar aircraft in other aircraft making future flights. The ghosts of the flight crew (Captain Robert Loft and Flight Engineer Donald Reo) were only seen in the planes that used these parts. In one plane the reflection of captain Loft was seen by many crew members in the galley. On many planes the deceased crew members warned of problems with planes that may have resulted in crashes and possibility of fatalities. The problem got so bad that the management of Eastern Airlines warned their employees that any more stories of ghosts would result in immediate termination of their employment.
In one incident an Eastern Airlines captain sat down beside one passenger while the flight was boarding. he remained silent but then suddenly disappeared into the thin air. The passenger became hysterical (understandably) and have to be removed from the plane for medical care.
These occurrences, now 40 years later, have taken on the persona of an urban legend and have been used as a theme in many movies, TV shows and fictional books. They did, however, occur. If for those in the know they are often thought as a unique incident for which there are no other comparable stories. This is not the case. . .
In fact, there are many other stories both before and after the ghosts of Flight 401 and they continue to this day. Below are some of ones we came across:
A flight attendant was surprised to find an elderly gentlemen sitting in a restricted section below the passenger compartment. Alarmed she confronted him about being in a restricted section. He stated he was traveling with his wife who was sitting in a seat he identified and asked the flight attendant to tell her he was ok. He then disappeared into a staff lavatory and was never seen again. When asked the wife did confirm that she was traveling with her husband but he was in a coffin stored below. The flight attendant identified the man she had seen as the deceased husband.
There are multiple stories of passengers sitting in particular seats on planes and being cold to the point of being near frozen while everyone around them remained comfortable. In some of these cases passengers later flew on the same plane and observed that whoever was sitting in that seat was exceptionally cold. In many of these cases it was possible to find out that in the past a passenger had passed away while sitting in the seat.
A thin and rather scary looking apparition has been seen on one plane that generally does long trans-Pacific flights overnight. The apparition is described as a very unhealthy and frail looking elderly lady who wanders the aisles completely ignoring the flight staff and passengers.
A European airline has a haunting that is referred as "the yellow one" Cleaning staff have refused to board this plane because of incidents that they have witnessed in the past. This ghost's most common action is pounding noises on the top of the plane; this has been heard while the plane was on the ground and in flight and rather sounds like someone walking on top of the plane. It has been confirmed that an elderly lady did die while on a flight on this plane.
Enjoy your flight!
(Public School No 4)(Riverside Grammar School)(Annie Lytle Elementary)
699 Chelsea Street
Status: Former School; Abandoned; Urban Legend
No Public Access
Originally a small wooden school house was built on this site in 1891 called Riverside Park School.
In 1915 that school was deemed a fire hazard torn down and replaced by the existing building. It was completed in 1918 and named the Riverside Grammar School. It was officially called Public School Number Four.
In 1950 the name was changed to the Annie Lytle Elementary School after a Principal of the original Riverside Park School.
The creation of the Interstates 95 and 10 would completely isolate a school that was first built with a view of Riverside Park. In 1960 the school was closed to the public.
The building was first used as storage space but was sold in 1980 to be converted into senior apartments. When Federal funding failed to come through that dream ended.
The building was left empty and unused until 1999 – a fire even collapsed the auditorium roof in 1995 – when it was proposed to turn it into condominiums. After a huge public outcry, the school was declared a Historical Landmark in 2000 stopping any plans of tearing the building down.
Today the school is behind a fence and trespassing is strictly forbidden punishable by a large fine.
There are many people – not to mention websites – that describe the school as the most haunted location in the city of Jacksonville; albeit with a large amount of tongue in cheek attitude.
The obvious Urban Legends have been disproven over and over again. There is no historical truth to the janitor throwing students into the boiler – Nightmare On Elm Street anyone? – or the cannibal principal storing the bodies of students in a meat locker for his personal consumption. Although its very doubtful that anyone actually believes in them anymore beyond scaring children.
There is, however, always some truth to Urban Legends. Of course, this doesn’t mean there were any psychotic or cannibalistic staff but this school – like most schools – probably had some fatalities. As well schools are often haunted – much like hospitals and asylums to a higher degree – although it is unclear why. Sure, there are – as mentioned above – fatal accidents and crimes committed in schools but no where near as many deaths as say a hospital but not enough to account for the number of haunted schools.
The stories of the school being haunted may be the only true legend; although it probably isn’t the most haunted location in Jacksonville – but, who really knows, maybe it is.
Since the school has been abandoned there are rumors of Satanic and Dark Rituals happening within the walls. The police have numerous cases of trespassing and vandalism – and one rape – inside the school but no dark rituals.
Paranormal Activity reported in the school: shadow figures, disembodied voices, doors opening and closing on their own, light anomalies, electrical disturbances and feelings of being watched.
Construction began in 1925 on this magnificent hotel in a partnership between the Biltmore chain and George Merrick a land developer who controlled all construction in the suburbs of Coral Gables. The doors opened 10 months later in January of 1926 with a huge party.
Before World War II the hotel became the party playhouse for the Hollywood and the world's royalty including Bing Crosy, Judy Garland, Al Capone and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
When the war began the War department took over the hotel and turned it into a hospital. The lower windows were bricked up and the gorgeous flooring was replaced with linoleum. After the war the University of Miami took over the building and turned it into a school of medicine. The building remained a VA hospital until 1968.
In 1973 ownership passed over to the City of Coral Gables who were unsure what to do with it. So, it remained completely abandoned for 10 years, and began to deteriorate, until 1983.
In 83 a 4 year long restoration project was began at a cost of $55 million and it was reopened as a world class hotel and resort destination.
In 1992 the Seaway Hotels Corporation took over ownership - the present owners - and committed more money to yet another restoration. Seaway built a brand new state of the art spa which is still considered one of the best in the world. They also completely revamped all of the hotel's infrastructure.
Legends and Paranormal Activity
The ghost of Thomas "Fatty" Walsh is said to haunt the hotel. He was murdered on the hotel's 13th floor in 1929 over a gambling debt. The elevators bring people to the 13th floor when other floors are pressed. Lights turn on and off on their own on that floor. Doors open and close and people have complained of a powerful sense of being watched and not being alone.
The apparition of a "woman in white" is also seen. She is rumored to have either fallen out of a window or jumped in an attempt to save her child.
Throughout the hotel other apparitions are seen including that of soldiers. Disembodied voices and whispers as well as other unexplained noises are heard. Scenes from the building's history as a hospital have played out before people's eyes.
(Mercy Hospital)(Lakeside Behavioral Healthcare)(Aspire Health Partners)
1800 Mercy Drive
Status: Former Hospital; Operational Psychiatric Hospital
This building was first constructed as the Mercy Hospital by the Roman Catholic Church. The hospital – rumored to have been a mental asylum – was opened in 1962 and run by the Church.
In 1981 it was converted into a general full-service hospital after being sold to American Medical International. In the early 90’s the hospital was bought by Resource Housing of America who renamed it as Princeton Hospital.
1997 the hospital became an independent facility and NewCare was brought in to run it. This didn’t work out as planned and the hospital could no longer afford its own infrastructure including payroll. In 1999 the hospital closed transferring the patients and firing all the staff.
After being put up for auction it was bought by Aspire Health Partners and converted into a psychiatric hospital. Renovations were done in the early 2000’s and many think this is what activated the paranormal activity here.
Based on numerous reviews of this hospital from different sites neither patients nor families have a very good opinion of treatment here.
The apparitions of nuns and doctors are the most common ghosts seen here at the hospital.
The apparition of a patient – described as having hollow eyes – stares at witness either angrily or with sadness and despair.
The second and third floors of the hospital are said to be the most active. Here disembodied voices are heard in empty rooms; touches by unseen presences; unexplained noises including knocks, taps and loud bangs; lights turning on and off on their own; objects moving on their own most famously empty wheelchairs moving in rooms and hallways and feelings of being watched, not wanted and not being alone.
The current lighthouse standing here today was built between 1871 and 1874. It is the second lighthouse built by American Government although the British and Spanish Governments have operated some sort of light tower close to this location since 1565.
The lighthouse became electrified in 1936 and automated in 1955 changing the need for 3 keepers to 2 and 1 – then finally none at all. In the 1960’s the lighthouse keeper’s house was rented out until 1970 when it was declared surplus and bought by the County. Also, in 1970, the house was destroyed in a fire set in an unsolved arson case.
In 1980 a group of 15 women called the Junior Service League of St Augustine signed a 99-year lease with the County for the house and the surrounding land – another lease was completed with the USCG for the lighthouse itself. The long restoration project was begun.
In 1994 the Lighthouse Museum of St Augustine was opened to the public. Today it is known as the St Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum and is visited by over 200,000 people a year.
In the summer of 1873, while the lighthouse was being built, the building superintendent’s 3 daughters and their friend were playing on the site. They were riding in a railway supply cart down the hill to the water - treating it much like a roller coaster.
Tragically, on July 10 of that year, the cart came off the rails and spun into the Atlantic Ocean. The cart fell in such a way that the girls were immediately pinned beneath the waves. A worker dove into the ocean and over turned the cart but it was too late. Mary, 15, Eliza, 13, and their friend Ellie were all drowned. Only Carrie, 4, was saved.
The three girls are said to haunt the main ‘big’ house and lighthouse from that time until today. In 1950 a man filling in for the last keeper heard phantom footsteps in the house he could not find a source for. He is quoted as saying, the “big house is haunted.” A renter in the 1960’s woke up in the big house to find a little girl sitting on his bed. She disappeared when he blinked. In the 70’s workers repairing the house after the fire heard children playing in the basement of the ruins.
Public Domain Photo
This house was originally built in 1905 at 327 Acacia Street by employees of Henry Flager with wood left over from the building of one of his hotels. People would call it “the Painted Lady” because of it’s bright colors but it’s official name was the “Gatekeeper’s Cottage”.
It’s original purpose was to serve as the residence for the keeper of Woodlawn Cemetery which was located across the street. The house also served as a funeral home at this time.
In 1914 the city purchased the house and named it “City House”.
In 1920 the home’s namesake moved in. Karl Riddle was the first city manager of West Palm Beach. In 1923 he lost his position by a mere 5 votes and moved out of the house. The house became a temporary residence for new employees of the city.
In 1972 Mary Ann Hayes purchased the house for $21,000 at auction and converted it into the Flagler Arts Center.
In the early 80’s the house was bought by Palm Beach Atlantic College who used the building as a student dorm. When college expanded it was slated for demolition but instead it was donated to the Yesteryear Village.
Rather than have it moved intact and at a high cost the house was dismantled and moved piece by piece and rebuilt in August of 1995 by volunteers.
With a government grant the house was restored back to it’s grandeur in the 1920’s
The first reported ghost is that of Buck who worked in the cemetery. Apparently, Buck got involved in a – drunken? – disagreement in town that ended in his death. Buck’s ghost is said to haunt both Woodlawn Cemetery and the Riddle House.
The most famous ghost of Riddle House is, of course, Joseph a former groundskeeper for the cemetery who was having severe money issues. Apparently, he decided to go into the house of his boss – Karl Riddle – climb up into the attic and hang himself to death.
Unlike Buck, Joseph is said be a rather unsavoury and ill tempered character – killing yourself in your boss’s house doesn’t exactly say endearing. Whenever something unpleasant or subtlety threatening happens in the house Karl takes the blame.
The house is also said to be haunted by some of the souls that passed through it’s doors during it’s time as a funeral home.
While the attic is, by far, the most paranormally active – where Joseph is said to be quite unpleasant to anyone he sees as invading his turf – the rest of the house also has it’s stories of paranormal activity. Dating back to it’s time as a residence for city employees there are stories of dark shadows in corners and sliding across the walls, the sounds of chains being dragged through the house, apparitions watching people from the corners and disembodied voices and whispers echoing in the hallways.
There are also a number of stories of someone mumbling and murmuring in the attic.
There are many who also sense a dark presence in the house; which may, or may not, be Joseph.
While the house was being rebuilt after being moved construction workers reported many encounters with the paranormal. Their tools would move from place to place unexplainably and were even thrown from the attic, their ladders would shake when they were on them or be moved and seemed to just fall over on their own and windows were inexplicably broken.