Some believe Key West’s limestone foundation anchors spirits of the departed to our island. Others attribute the high rate of paranormal encounters to properties in our surrounding waters. Key West remains one of the most haunted locations in America, with the dead outnumbering the living 4:1. Wheter you take a ghost tour or explore on your own, no visit to Key West is complete without visiting at least one of our 10 most haunted locations.
10. The Key West Firehouse Museum
Recently opened to the public, the museum has experienced several unexpected visitors. A young Bahamian girl’s spirit plays in the engine room at night and hides among the artifacts as she follows visitors on tours. A ghost named ‘Frank’ has identified himself to ghost hunting groups and psychics. The musuem’s Director of Operations believes a mischevious ghost in the station may anser the famous question: Where is Bum Farto? www.keywestfirehousemuseum.com
9. The Ernest Hemingway Home
Apparently dying does not mean you have to say farewell to arms. The spirit of Ernest Hemingway is seen pacing his second story veranda after hours, even waving to passers-by. Another resident ghost is a woman who smokes outside the bricked entry at night. Neighbors have found cigarette butts of the brand Pauline Hemingway smoked littering the sidewalk following sightings. It is said that the ghost of a black and white tuxedo cat spends her 10th life guarding companions at the museum’s cat cemetery. www.hemingwayhome.com
8. The Porter Mansion
Residents of the mansion’s upper floors have long reported the bizarre stacking of coins on their dressers and the sounds of late night chamber music. The ghost of Dr. Porter regularly visits bartenders in the mansion’s first floor bar – often tossing wine glasses from their rack or splitting pint glasses in half. No pennies from heaven, but Dr. Porter’s ghost regularly produces dimes out of thin air. Sloan’s Ghost Hunt sometimes stops by after the ghost hunt to show off a collection of haunted artifacts. www.theporchkw.com
7. Key West Lighthouse
Barbara Mabrity kept the Key West Light shining for years and has no intentions of retiring. Her ghost still climbs 88 steps several times a night to make sure everything is in ship shape. Visitors to the keeper’s quarters encounter Key West’s version of Typhoid Mary. Mary and her husband both fell victim to typhoid fever while employed at the site. Dozens of other ghosts roam the lighthouse grounds, including two women seen walking hand in hand, an unknown soldier and a pensive man near the lighthouse entrance. www.kwahs.org/visit/lighthouse-keepers-quarters/
6. Old City Jail
Tucked behind the courthouse annex off Fleming Street, the old jail has hosted both famous and infamous names from Key West’s paranormal circles. Manuel Cabeza was pulled from his cell here and lynched by the KKK, inspiring a voodoo curse on the island. Count Carl Von Cosel was held here after being discovered with the long dead body of Elena Hoyos. The surrounding grounds are charged with the residual hauntings of those who were sentenced here and the angry mobs that sometimes gathered in the early days. Though several hanging trees exist across the island, this was the site of our official gallows. At least three of the gallows victims are still said to be hanging around. http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/docs/m/monroe.htm
5. Appelrouth Lane
The small lane stretching between Duval and Whitehead Streets hosts a leather shop, gastro pub, guesthouse and the ghost of a young lady called Noel. Her spirit visits employees in most of the street’s establishments bearing a lost or hopeless expression. When they offer assistance, her human form fades before their eyes. A bartender at the former Appelrouth Grill – now 2 Cents, named Noel. Noel was carrying a bucket and said she was looking for the well. The employee said, “There is no well,” and the spirit vanished. No well (Noel) stuck. Legend says a hanging tree still stands on the property and that bones and grave markers have been found. An old below ground speakeasy and a hidden well that contained two pistols were discovered beneath the Lewinsky Building. Could this be the well Noel is looking for? www.2centskw.com
4. Haunted Masks
A pair of carved wooden masks was discovered at a Salvation Army store a decade ago and wasted no time affecting those who viewed them. Strange dreams involving animal attacks, waking at precisely 5:00 AM to a dark shadow beside their bed, and the spirits of a woman with child looking on with concern. The masks are now on display at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
3. The Oldest House
One of the oldest surviving structures on the island was home to the Watlington family. Captain Watlington still haunts the captain’s office, while his children’s ghosts play with marbles on the stairs. A mysterious rocking chair at the home moves on its own. One local legend claims Elena Hoyos was buried on the property after her body was discovered in the possession of Count Von Cosel. www.oirf.org
2. Eaton Street
Dubbed ‘the most haunted street in Key West,’ Eaton Street is home to a restless sea captain who haunts the graveyard behind St. Paul’s Church, playful children’s spirits in the former church and theater known as Club Chameleon, a doctor who continues his practice in spirit at The Old Town Manor and Robert The Doll’s former residence – The Artist House. Perhaps the most active location on Eaton Street is the new home of The Studios Key West – formerly a Masonic Scottish Rite Temple. www.tskw.org
1. East Martello
Robert the Doll is the star attraction at the Fort East Martello Museum where letters line the walls asking forgiveness for not paying Robert the respect he demands. Cameras malfunction, electronics misbehave, and Robert moves in his case. A YouTube video features Robert blinking. The fort also hosts Civil War soldiers who fell victim to yellow fever and some visitors report entering a vortex that takes them back in time. www.kwahs.org/visit/fort-east-martello/
We have donated to Relay For Life, Sister Season Fund, Monroe County Sheriff’s Animal Farm, The Key West Firehouse Museum, AIDS Help, Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, The Studios of Key West and many more.