WHERE GHOSTS MAY INHABIT
YOU KNOW A PLACE.
It could be a house – long occupied or abandoned, it doesn’t matter. It could be an office building, old and dilapidated or newly constructed on the site of a previously demolished structure. It could
even be a cemetery. But you know a place. It’s the kind of place people talk about in low voices. Parents warn their children to stay away from it. Ordinary people, rational people, people who don’t settle for stories about ghosts and spells, will stray far from a more practical path to avoid it. A place that isn’t quite… fair.
There are rumors. Stories told in a low voice, as if the storytellers were afraid to attempt some foul spell, or perhaps attract something sinister that might be lurking within earshot. Some of these places have an unsavory past – disappearances, tragedies, murders – while others are said to have been built on the burial grounds of an ancient indigenous civilization.
You know the stories. You have heard them. Someone always claims to have heard, felt, seen or felt something beyond what we would call “normal” experience. The distinct sound of footsteps upstairs when no one was home. A photograph showing a face in a window – in a building that had been abandoned for decades. A shadow where there shouldn’t be any shadow. Something like a plume of smoke sliding down a hallway in the dark. A disembodied voice calling from an empty basement. A feeling of being watched in an empty house. A place in a room where the temperature drops to an unearthly cold.
Maybe you yourself have been to a place like this. A place where you could have sworn something moved just outside of your line of sight. Or you felt a shiver lift the hairs on your neck, and you hoped it was just a breeze … hoped – even though you knew all the windows and doors were reasonably closed.
Such places can be found all over the world, and South Florida is no exception.
As it stands, this seems like a good time of year for Florida Weekly to highlight these places known to be the most… unsettling? … In our readership areas.
Some claim, even swear, to have experienced unusual events in these places, while others breathe their testimonies by coincidence or vivid imagination. The following are some of these supposed occurrences, based on accounts, stories, legends.
“Explain it: we cannot. Refute it: we can’t, ”narrator John Newland said on“ One Step Beyond, ”the first TV show to deal with the paranormal, 60 years ago. “We simply invite you to explore with us the amazing world of the unknown.”
Of course, you may have doubts about this exploration. You can think of these stories as hearsay or as total nonsense.
But you can always visit one of these places on your own … decide for yourself if they are – as some claim – occupied by the spirits of the worried dead.
“Palm Beach is haunted,” says the website Ghosts of Palm Beach (www.ghostsofpalmeach.com). Who would make such a bold claim?
Well, Philip E. Schoenberg would. He has a doctorate. in History, and is a professional speaker and leading expert on US Presidents. It organizes walking tours of historic sites associated with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt.
He is also the author of “Ghosts of Manhattan: Legendary Spirits and Notorious Haunts”. And as the owner of Ghosts of Palm Beach, he’s been showing guests the darker side of Palm Beach, which he calls “Florida’s first ghost town,” for nearly a decade.
“Ghosts of Palm Beach is dedicated to the exploration of supernatural and paranormal phenomena, occult manifestations and ghostly events,” the website states. “We want to give you an experience that is second to none and that haunts your dreams. We want to challenge your mental abilities and your powers of observation. If you dare to participate, we tell you about the ghosts of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and even the founder of West Palm Beach.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 had put a temporary kibosh on the business.
“We plan to come back, maybe in the spring,” Mr. Schoenberg said.
One can only hope.
Meanwhile, the esteemed scholar was ready to highlight Palm Beach’s most haunted places.
Impossible to study the history of Florida and not to recognize the omnipresent name of Henry Flagler, the American industrialist and co-founder of Standard Oil who marked the state by developing its Atlantic coast, as well as by founding the Florida East Coast Railway. – and the city of Palm Beach itself.
In 1901 Mary Lily Kenan, then 34, married Flagler, 72, his third wife.
The tycoon built Whitehall (now the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, 1 Whitehall Way), a 75-room Golden Age mansion, as a wedding gift. The New York Herald described it as “more wonderful than any palace in Europe, bigger and more magnificent than any other private home in the world.”
The couple moved into their new winter digs in 1902. Mr Schoenberg claims the couple never left, as they were both reported as ghosts.
“Whitehall is where the founder of Palm Beach likes to haunt,” he said. “He had a very happy time here. “
According to Mr. Schoenberg’s blog, “They like to entertain their ghostly friends, because the pottery has suffered unexplained damage, the doors do not open, and a cleaning lady claimed someone slapped her behind.”
Could the spectral troublemaker have been Henry Flagler himself?
Other reported phenomena include broken dishes, stuck locks, and unexplained voices.
Mr Schoenberg noted another haunted place in the city – but the ghosts are decidedly not human.
In the courtyard of the Pizza Al Fresco restaurant (14 Via Mizner) is the grave of Johnnie Brown, a spider monkey owned by architect Addison Mizner, who received municipal permission in 1927 not only to erect a tombstone, but also to bury the animal adjacent to what was then his home. The next owner of Mizner’s estate was also given permission to bury his pet, a Scottish Terrier named Laddie.
“Since then, they’ve become good friends in the afterlife, playing together,” Schoenberg writes on his blog. “Their antics over the years have been particularly popular with children. “
As with the other hangouts, the Riddle House in Yesteryear Village has raised questions for years.
Long a landmark on the South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, the 1905 structure was moved to the Old Town South Florida Fairgrounds to make way for the University of Palm Beach Atlantic buildings. .
At one time, the Victorian-style house served as a funeral home. This is handy, considering the house was across from Woodlawn Cemetery.
The house is believed to be haunted by the spirit of a man named Joseph, who hanged himself in the attic.
It has been claimed that the ghost of Joseph does not like men and will attack them.
The story was compelling enough to lure the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” team of ghost hunters into the house in 2008.
The ghost of Joseph is part of the local traditions.
The same goes for the Pioneer Tombs under the Norton Museum of Art, just south of the former site of the Riddle House.
The old Lakeside Cemetery has been gradually closed and most of the graves have been moved across the street to Woodlawn Cemetery. But the relatives of some people could not be found to authorize the relocation of their graves; others did not wish to disturb the graves when the land was turned into a city park. It’s unclear how many pioneer graves remain on the site, but a plaque pays tribute to the 40 or so people buried there.
So maybe ghosts exist, if only in the minds of those who want to believe them. ??