Yesteryear Village, west palm beach, fl

(561) 735-3110 Ghost Tours

Status: Former Residence; Former Funeral Home; Heritage House; Ghost Tours Available

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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


Paranormal Activity

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.