Officially known as the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is a blend of colonial history and Florida sunshine wrapped into an irresistible package of surprises. Walking down the narrow cobblestone streets, one is surrounded by the city’s past and the European influences that shaped it. Horse-drawn carriages, small garden parks and outdoor cafes dot the scenery. Closer to the beaches, you find the old forts and lighthouses that the city is famous for. There is so much history here that it’s impossible to escape–so immerse yourself!
St. Augustine Lighthouse: Built in 1874 to replace the original, the St. Augustine Lighthouse should be familiar to the amateur ghost hunter. This tall, striped beacon has been featured on almost every paranormal podcast and TV show, including Ghost Hunters. There are several deaths associated with the current lighthouse, most famously the tragic demise of three children in 1873. Childish laughter has been heard on the nature trail, unexplained footprints have been found near the lighthouse and shadows have been seen darting from room to room inside.
The Old Jail: Also known as Old St. Johns County Jail, this pink stuccoed building looks inviting from the outside. Built in 1891, the prison housed both men and women and also contained a gallows where executions were carried out. Conditions inside were deplorable and inhumane, even for a prison. Strange sightings and eerie noises are the norm here. Visitors can book a tour of the old building and do some sleuthing on their own.
Spanish Military Hospital: Possibly the most haunted building in St. Augustine, the Spanish Military Hospital has a history that pre-dates the arrival of the Spainards. When the hospital was being rebuilt in 1821, a gruesome discovery shocked the town. The original hospital had been built over a Native American burial site and thousands of human bones were found beneath the foundation. Whether the bones belonged to members of the Timucuan Tribe or another tribe is up for debate. However, the oppressive heaviness inside the building, the reports of moans and cries and reported sightings of dark shadowy figures haunt the hospital even today.
Huguenot Cemetery: With over 400 gravesites, the old Huguenot cemetery is as crowded as it is creepy. Built to inter the victims of a raging yellow fever epidemic, the cemetery had to close its doors as the casualties mounted. It is said today that spirits walk the holy ground night and day, some searching for valuables that graverobbers stole from them centuries ago.
St. Francis Inn: Built in 1791 in the city’s Spanish Colonial period, the St. Francis is St. Augustine’s oldest inn. The building has changed hands many times over the years, which plays a part in its paranormal present. Lily’s room is said to be the most haunted, with a female apparition dressed in white seen inside and in the hallway. There’s also reports of electrical phenomena in the room–lights switching on and off, doors locking on their own, music coming from nowhere, etc. Elsewhere in the St. Francis, spirits are seen roaming the halls and whispers are reportedly heard during the night, with no earthly source.
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