Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Newsworthy Florida

There are articles about hauntings blooming all around the South for the Halloween season. Florida, the floral state, is at full bloom. Here’s an overview of recently reported Florida hauntings.

St. Cloud Greater Osceola Chamber of Commerce
1200 New York Avenue
St. Cloud

The Southern literary magazine, The Oxford American, explores Southern culture. As ghosts, ghostlore and ghost hunting (Southerners love their hunting) have permeated Southern culture in recent decades; it’s appropriate that the magazine would publish an article about it. An article by Chantel Tattoli explores this through the experiences of GhostStop, a St. Cloud business specializing in ghost hunting equipment. They also conduct investigations, and the St. Cloud Chamber investigation included the article’s author.



According to the investigation team she was working with, the building dates to 1910, when it opened as a bank. One major robbery occurred in the building as well as, if local lore is accurate, a double homicide. The activity in the building includes the requisite footsteps in conjunction with what the author describes as “shadows, rattles and whistles.”

The article ends with the author wistfully asking, “What is a ghost but a smear in the air? A memory, willful and invincible, determined to keep living its life.” I really like that statement.

Source
Tattoli, Chantel. “The Ghostbusters of Cloudland.” The Oxford American.
     10 October 2013.

Florida Theatre
128 East Forsyth Street
Jacksonville

When the Florida Theatre opened in 1927, it was the fifteenth movie palace in the city, but definitely the most lavish. The Mediterranean Revival-style architecture was very popular throughout Florida throughout that decade. The grand theatre served the citizens of Jacksonville very well for more than five decades even as many other glorious movie palaces and other theatres were shuttered and demolished.

The marquee of the Florida Theatre, 2008, by Craig O'Neal.
Courtesy of Wikipedia.
It was here in 1956 that a young singer named Elvis Presley performed. Seated among the screaming fans in the audience was a juvenile court judge to monitor Presley’s notorious hips for movements that were deemed “too suggestive.”

The theatre closed in 1980, but efforts were quickly underway to revive the grand dame. In October of 1983, the theatre opened its doors once again as a performing arts center, a use that has kept the marvelous building open for three decades.

A press release from PR Newswire announces that the theatre will be the scene of a paranormal investigation on Halloween night. The press release includes a remark from the theatre’s house manager that recounts her experience with a strange humming in the theatre. “I’ve heard a strange humming sound that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I thought it was a bar refrigerator, so I unplugged it, but the humming noise continued.”  

The ghosts of the Florida Theatre are fairly well documented, especially after an investigation in 2010 captured the image of someone sitting in a seat in the balcony.

An article in the Florida Times-Union from July recounts the experience. The crew was filming with infrared cameras when they began to detect movement in the balcony. “The cameras captured something in Seat E2, Section 500, up in the balcony, where the original 1927 seats are still in place.” The video captured what appears to be someone sitting in the seat and moving their arm.

Perhaps the figure will make an appearance on Halloween.

Sources
     to be Conducted by Local Haunts.” PR Newswire. 17 October 2013.
History. The Florida Theatre. Accessed 29 October
     2013.
Szaroleta, Tom. “Florida Theatre holding ‘paranormal tour.’” The Florida
     Times-Union. 26 July 2013.

The Petite Boutiques
1002 East New Haven Avenue
Melbourne

The Petite Boutiques describes themselves as an “upscale mini-mall” that “hosts a collection of small retail businesses located inside a historic landmark.” The landmark building was once the Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home, which moved to a new location some years ago. After the building’s conversion to retail space, people working in the building began experiencing odd activity including Christmas trees in the Christmas shop being rearranged.



A member of the family who owns the building was quoted in Florida Today speaking about the Christmas trees. “Every morning, I would come into find a bird on one of our trees that was upside down, and I would have to rearrange it. It happened all the time. Then one night, I closed and knew the bird was on the tree right side up. But when I got there the next morning, it was upside down again.”

The article mentions that various customers have picked up on various entities within the building.

Sources
Dowling, Lyn. “Paranormal phenomena in downtown Melbourne.” Florida
     Today. 27 October 2013.
The Petite Boutiques.com. Accessed 30 October 2013.

Eau Gallie Cemetery
Intersection of Avocado Avenue and Masterson Street
Melbourne

Eau Gallie was an independent city until 1969 when it merged with Melbourne. The name may be a reference in French to the salt water found around the town.

In the Eau Gallie Cemetery sleep many of Eau Gallie’s founding and prominent family. But, their rest may not be so easy. The cemetery has been rumored for years as being haunted and has been investigated by Florida Unknown, a local paranormal investigation team.



According to an article from Florida Today, the team did succeed in capturing a female voice responding to a direct question.

Sources
Eau Gallie, Florda. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30 October 2013.
Dowling, Lyn. “Paranormal phenomena at Eau Gallie Cemetery.” Florida Today.
     22 October 2013.

Crooked Mile Cemetery
aka Georgiana Cemetery
Crooked Mile Road
Merritt Island

It appears that the Crooked Mile Cemetery may be quite a bit more active than the Eau Gallie Cemetery. Indeed, the cemetery plays a part in one of the area’s most well-known ghost stories—the haunting of Ashley’s Restaurant in nearby Rockledge.

On November 21, 1934, the badly mutilated and decomposing body of a young woman was found near the river. Nineteen-year-old Ethel Allen had been seen just a few days before when she stopped at a local packing house to say goodbye to a friend. Ethel was leaving to visit her mother. She may have also stopped by her favorite local hangout, Jack’s Tavern, now Ashley’s of Rockledge. The Tudor style restaurant, on U.S. 1, still has activity, which has been attributed to Ethel Allen.

The gentleman with whom Ms. Allen was travelling was identified, but never questioned. Ms. Allen was laid to rest in the Crooked Mile Cemetery where she continues to interact with the living. In yet another article from Florida Today, the Brevard Ghost Hunters report that they received an EVP saying “yes” at the grave of Ethel Allen. The investigators had asked if Ms. Allen was present.

Within the moss-draped graveyard, others have reported seeing and hearing apparitions, but scarier still, hands have been known to reach out of graves here.

Sources
Boonstra, Michael. “1934 Murder of Cocoa’s Ethel Allen.” Michael’s Genealogy and
     Brevard County History Blog. 9 April 2011.
History. Ashley’s of Rockledge. Accessed 30 October 2013.
     Florida Today. 27 October 2013.

Pritchard House
424 South Washington Avenue
Titusville

It is said that Lola Pauline Smith Pritchard, known as Miss Lovie, never liked people in her house. Perhaps it is she who is upset about tourists regularly visiting her magnificent Queen Anne-style house.

Pritchard House, 2012, by Jigar,brahmbhatt. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
As of late, Florida Today has been ramping up on paranormal articles. Interestingly, the reporter interviewed Michael Boonstra whose blog I used for information concerning Ethel Allen’s murder in the above location. As the director and archivist for the Brevard County Historical Commission, he was invited on an investigation two years ago of the Pritchard House.

Recently restored, the home has been returned to its original color scheme, an orange color with coral colored trim. Captain James Pritchard, a businessman important in the development of the area, built the home in 1891. Until Brevard County purchased the home in 2005, it had remained in the Pritchard family.

The investigation uncovered evidence that members of the Pritchard family may still remain in the house. Voices were heard, a light turned on by itself and a grandfather clock that was not in working order was heard pinging.

Sources
Dowling, Lyn. “Paranormal phenomena at Pritchard House.” Florida Today.
     27 Oct 2013.
Pritchard House. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30 October 2013.


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