The stretch of land from St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach has some of the richest history in the United States and with that rich history comes tales of ghostly haunts and eerie sensations. There are dozens of places and stories of restless spirits, maniacal mistresses and ghostly children in our community and we have highlighted just a few. If you are one of many looking for a fright this Halloween, simply visit one of these top seven haunted spots in Northeast Florida.
Florida Theatre – Downtown Jacksonville
Located in downtown Jacksonville, the historic theatre has been home to some of the area’s most historic shows and controversy with acts such as Elvis nearly being banned from performing. It is also home to one of Northeast Florida’s most notable spirits. The theatre’s elegant 1920’s architecture makes it spooky enough, but add the tale of an older gentleman roaming the balcony and keeping eye on the theatre that has brought him much joy and you’ve got a creepy place. The theatre has been home to several local and national paranormal investigations that have captured EVP, electronic voice phenomenon, or ghost talk and on-camera apparitions. Next time you’re rocking out, be sure to check over your shoulder.
TacoLu – Jacksonville Beach
Known for years as the Homestead Restaurant, the building now known as TacoLu was originally purposed as a boarding house in 1932 by Miss Alpha Paynter, who operated the house for 15 years before turning it into the Homestead Restaurant in 1947. She served up some of the city’s best fried chicken and southern cuisine for many years, but eventually sold the place in 1962 and died later that same year. Legend has it that her good spirit never left the place and has a little fun with staff and patrons, at times even showing her face in mirrors. So next time you visit and are overcome with a ghastly feeling, it may not be the banging shrimp tacos disagreeing with you, but the ghost of Alpha Paynter.
Ginger’s Place – Jacksonville Beach
One of Jacksonville Beach’s oldest bars, Ginger’s Place was operated for years by Ginger Payson until her death in 2003. The bar is now operated by Ginger’s family who first noticed paranormal activity shortly after her death. Rumor has it that guests and employees have experienced brushes of the leg and have seen shadows and silhouettes walk between the back rooms and bar when no one else is around. Tales of eerie misfortunes prior to the building being Ginger’s Place such as an old man dying at the jukebox and shrimpers who lived in the space but died at sea also exist, but have not been proven. However, have no fear, as these spirits have thus far proven harmless. Just tip up your cup to Ginger the next time you visit.
The Devil’s School – Riverside
Perhaps better known as Public School No. 4, the site sits only a few feet from Interstate 10 and has been home in recent years to graffiti artists, bums and … devil worshipping … or so that’s one of the many rumors. The school has several spooky stories ranging from a furnace explosion that killed half of the student body and some faculty to a maniacal janitor on a killing spree and a cannibalistic principal with a meat locker in his office and parents who never asked questions regarding their missing children. One proven fact is that the school has been home to several fires throughout the years and is now barely standing. So our best advice with all of this madness is to stay away, but if you must visit do so dressed as a stalk of broccoli, in a flame-retardant suit, dipped in holy water.
Ghost Light Road – Fruit Cove
Also known as Greenbriar Road, this stretch of pavement shares similarities with legends across the United States including the infamous Ghost Light of Route 66. The story goes as such: a young man was racing his motorcycle and hit a cable that subsequently decapitated him. Since then his motorcycle light has been endlessly searching the road for its driver. Motorists along this road report a mysterious beacon of light that appears out of nowhere and hovers along behind and over cars. Other times drivers simply see a headlight coming their way in the rearview mirror and then a brake light driving away, but no vehicle. There are also reports of overbearingly loud airplane sounds filling the sky, perhaps because the area was once home to a landing strip popular with drag-racers.
Flagler College Dormitory – St. Augustine
Henry Flagler was a man of wealth, innovation and prestige. He built Flagler College as Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1888 and spent time there with his multiple wives throughout the years. Several legends exist in regard to the hotel. Flagler’s second wife was the nurse of his first and is said to have been a bit off in her later years as she developed an obsession with a Ouija board and became confined to a mental institution. Some believe her spirit still roams the old hotel. Other spirits thought to be about are Flagler himself and a mistress who killed herself in the hotel. These spirits seem to make themselves known through apparitions, whistling and the occasional slamming of doors. Students beware.
EverBank Field – Downtown Jacksonville
Visitors to the roaming grounds of the Jacksonville Jaguars the past few years may have noticed an eerie sensation that seems to be undying. Though a curse has not been proven, one has to favor toward its existence as we are haunted by years of terrifying draft picks by former general manager Gene Smith and echoes of “Tebow…Tebow.” Visitors to the stadium often report leaving with a knot in their stomach and a feeling of deja vu. Perhaps it was a spirit that set Jaxson de Ville on fire during a game in 2008? Scare not though as it seems a young fan base, exploding in size, a mustache and a new regime may be the right stuff to expel the curse once and for all. Super Bowl 2015?