Spooky Spectacles: Haunted Locations in St. Augustine, FL

by Stephanie

As the autumn leaves fall and the cool breeze sweeps through the historic streets, St. Augustine, Florida, transforms into a city of enchantment during Halloween. This ancient city, known for its rich history and eerie tales, comes alive with many spooky stories of hauntings in our historical buildings and properties.

Dark of the Moon Tour at the St. Augustine Lighthouse

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is known for its stunning panoramic views, but during the Halloween season, it becomes a beacon of paranormal activity. The Dark of the Moon Tour takes you on a spine-tingling adventure through the lighthouse and the grounds while sharing tales of ghostly encounters and unexplained phenomena. If you're brave enough, you can even participate in a real paranormal investigation. 

The Segui-Kirby Smith House

This is the childhood home of Confederate General Kirby Smith. Today, the Sequi-Kirby Smith House, located at 12 Aviles St., houses a research library that is maintained by the St. Augustine Historical Society. At night, even while no one is occupying the premises, lights can be seen turning on and off at random. While no one is certain who exactly is haunting the building, it seems the spirit has a love for mischief. Some ghost hunters may very well classify this entity as a poltergeist. Furthermore, this is another location with a high propensity for orbs.

Don Pedro Horruytiner House

This house, located at 214 St. George Street, was built during the first Spanish period and was home to two generations of governors. The first reported paranormal incident is that of Brigita Gomez in 1821, who saw two translucent women while gardening. The women looked suspiciously familiar to Brigita, who realized that they resembled paintings she'd seen of previous owners. She carried on a conversation with the women and bid them farewell by cutting them some yellow roses. She awoke the following day to find the yellow roses sitting on her doorstep. The women, among other former residents, can still be seen milling about the garden.

Flagler College

Several entities are said to haunt the halls of the former Ponce de Leon Hotel. Henry Flagler's ghost is to be expected. The most common manifests as a no-nonsense paternal figure that students feel keeps an eye on them. Less abstractly, a mustachioed man in early 20th-century garb can be seen floating around the rotunda. Other specters include Henry's second wife Ida Alicia, and a woman in black who is believed to have been Henry Flagler's mistress.

While many local businesses are proud of their haunted histories, Flagler College is not as forthcoming. Ponce Hall is a mainstay on many ghost tours, but the only way you can tour the inside of the building is by taking a Flagler Legacy Tour. Though fun and interesting, you will not hear any ghost stories on the more traditionally historical Legacy Tour. 

The Former Scarlett O'Hara's building

The former "Gone with the Wind"-loving establishment was once two houses before it was combined into one commercial property as a bar and restaurant. One of those houses was built in 1879 by Mr. Colee for his then-beloved fiancée. His heart was broken when she called off their engagement after falling in love with a soldier stationed at the fort. Mr. Colee recovered from his devastation and found another woman to share his home with. Shortly after his wedding, however, he was found drowned in his bathtub. His death was initially believed to be a suicide, though rumors at the time placed the blame on his cold-footed (and cold-hearted) ex and her brawny husband. Mr. Colee can now be found mostly in the men's restroom on the second floor. He's made a habit of brushing people's shoulders and breathing down their necks.

Tolomato Cemetery

The Tolomato and Huguenot cemeteries are generally closed to the public. Only once a month (typically the third Saturday) are visitors allowed within the wire fence confines of either burial ground. This is for the sake of preservation. However, you can still see, if not the entirety of the cemeteries, most of the cemeteries from their respective gates. These locations are supposedly so haunted, so teeming with specters re-dying to escape, that many visitors report paranormal experiences well beyond the bounds of the cemetery itself.

The ghosts of Father Varela and Bishop Verot are said to haunt the grounds of the Tolomato Cemetery. This is to be expected, as the Tolomato Cemetery was built for Catholics, and it is the oldest planned cemetery in Florida. What is more curious, however, is that the mortuary chapel no longer houses the remains of the Bishop or the Father as it once did. Men in priestly garb can sometimes be seen floating near the chapel, perhaps bemoaning the disturbance of their once eternal slumber. 

Huguenot Cemetery

The Huguenot Cemetery around the corner is home to its own gang of haunts. In 1882, popular Judge John B. Stickney succumbed to yellow fever, an epidemic at the time, and was buried in the mostly protestant graveyard. His body was to be exhumed so that his family could rebury him at their new home. To their dismay, several buried valuables, including the judge's gold teeth, had apparently been stolen from his gravesite. A figure of a man can sometimes be seen looking for something. Whether that figure is the judge himself searching for his belongings, or the ghosts of grave robbers serving a kind of paranormal punishment for their sins is subject to debate.

The Castillo de San Marcos

The fort itself is not open to the public at night. However, the fort grounds are fair game. Consider the name of the river upon which the fort sits, "Matanzas." This name literally translates from Spanish to "slaughter; massacre." The river was named as such because it was once red with the blood of French Protestant soldiers. Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain was ordered to kill all Protestants he found in the New World. Several hundred Huguenots from Fort Caroline, led by Jean Ribault, found themselves shipwrecked on the banks of the river. They were categorically slaughtered by Menendez and his men. 

There are so many stories and sightings in and around the fort that they could themselves fill up the space of countless articles. One highlight is the floating disembodied head of Chief Osceola, which was removed from the Chief's body on the grounds of the fort, but in its physical form has since been relocated. Apparently, his spectral face bears an expression of anguish and displeasure. (Let's be honest, it would almost be creepier if he looked happy about the situation.) 

The Old Jail

With its history of less than enlightened incarceration for more than 60 years as the St. Johns County Jail, including the eight executions that took place on the gallows behind the building, it's no wonder that the Old Jail (167 San Marco Ave.) is listed on the Florida and National Register of Haunted Places. However, if you don't look at the bars on the windows, you'd think this was another fine historic hotel - it's even pink! Henry Flagler had it built a mile away from his fancy resorts to protect the innocence of his guests, and the exterior was designed to look non-threatening. But inside, where the prisoners lived under the watchful eyes of Sheriff Joe Perry, the facility was on lockdown. The same company that later built Alcatraz designed the cells and maximum-security areas of the Old Jail. The spirit of one inmate in particular, Charlie Powell, who was hung at the Old Jail, seems to like to hang around his old home so he can chat with visitors.

Book your Spooky St. Augustine Vacation

St. Augustine, Florida, is more than just a historical treasure; it's a Halloween enthusiast's dream come true. With its haunted lighthouse, pirate lore, and a variety of ghost tours, the city offers a spooky adventure for all ages. Whether you prefer a bone-chilling ghost story or a lively costume parade, you'll find Halloween events that capture the essence of this ancient and enchanting city. Plan your visit to St. Augustine this Halloween and experience the magic and mystery of the nation's oldest city in a whole new light – or should we say, in the glow of eerie lanterns and ghostly tales.

After your haunting experience, retreat to the safety and peace of your beautiful and spacious condo listening to the relaxing sounds of the ocean lull you to sleep. Call to book now! 1-800-587-2287.