Northeast Florida is a popular destination for ghost hunters.
With St. Augustine being the oldest city in America, rumors of hauntings and apparitions run rampant throughout the area.
Jacksonville, being less than an hour from historic St. Augustine, is not immune from these legends either.
In honor of the upcoming arrival of Halloween, let’s take a look at five places in Jacksonville that are rumored to be haunted.
Popular eatery TacoLu’s current location has a lifespan that goes far beyond its current tenant.
Before it was home to TacoLu, the building housed another popular local eatery, The Homestead. The restaurant was launched by Alpha Paynter, who had originally built the structure in the ‘30s as a boarding house.
Paynter became well-known for her restaurant’s amazing quality, and had a successful career before selling the restaurant and retiring in 1961. She passed away one year later.
Following her death, legends began spreading of ghost sightings inside of the building. While no firm evidence exists (because, you know, ghosts), it’s believed that the ghost is Miss Poynter, keeping watch over her property from the afterlife.
We’d like to imagine she’s proud that the building has lived on to become another popular Jax Beach restaurant. After all, it would probably be pretty boring to haunt an empty building.
If you’ve ever been inside the Florida Theatre, you can probably understand how some people might think it’s haunted.
The grand, old-fashioned theater, which opened in 1927, sort of gives off a creepy vibe by itself. But apparently that vibe may in part be due to the presence of a spirit.
Several amateur photographers have caught what they’ve claimed are glimpses of a ghost, and some patrons have reported strange noises as well. Professional ghost hunters have visited the theater and have been able to capture apparitions on specialized cameras.
There are various elaborate backstories that supposedly explain the spirit’s presence, but since we can never know which account is true, it may be best to go to the theater and talk to the ghost yourself.
PUBLIC SCHOOL NO. 4
The stories about the long-abandoned Anne Lytle Elementary School – dubbed “The Devil’s School” – are pretty terrifying.
The building, located near Riverside Park, is in terrible shape these days. It was abandoned in the ‘60s after the nearby construction of Interstate 10 made the property unsuitable to house a school. Several fires have severely damaged the building’s integrity over the years. The property can’t be demolished, as it’s a national historic landmark, but it also appears unlikely to be redeveloped.
It probably doesn’t help that there have long been rumors of the building having been home to some truly heinous acts. One legend tells of a disgruntled janitor who burned children alive in the school’s boiler room. Another features a principal who, rather than burning the kids, chose to eat them instead.
Throw in some rumors of devil worshippers sneaking into the property to, presumably, do some devil worshipping, and you’ve got what’s considered the most haunted building in Jacksonville.
It’s worth noting that none of the stories have any evidence to support them, and none of the alleged crimes appear to have actually occurred.
Whether you believe the hype or not, good luck checking it out for yourself. Metal fences surround the property to prevent squatters and graffiti artists, as well as curious tourists, from getting in.
And it probably helps them keep the devil worshippers out, too.
Pete’s Bar is known for being the “oldest bar in Jacksonville.” Indeed, it owns the very first liquor license in post-Prohibition Duval County’s history.
It’s also attracted some big-name authors over the years, with John Grisham even name-dropping it in one of his novels.
Also, it’s apparently haunted.
In an interview with the Times-Union, local ghost hunter Steve Christian claimed that he once saw a transparent disembodied head floating in Pete’s Bar. He ranks the place as number four on his list of the twelve most haunted areas in Northeast Florida.
So next time you’re grabbing a drink at Pete’s, take a look around. Or maybe don’t..?
OLD ST. LUKE’S HOSPITAL
Ever wonder what that old building behind the arena is?
Allow us to introduce you to the old St. Luke’s Hospital building, built in the 1870s to treat patients with tuberculosis.
Given the horrific nature of that disease, many of these patients ended up dying in the hospital. Combine this fact, the building’s age, and how spooky it looks at night, and the property becomes ripe for rumors of ghost activity.
The hospital ceased operations in 1914. The building was recently used as office space for the Arthritis Foundation, and is now owned by the Jacksonville Historical Society.
There are rumors of people seeing patients – and even nurses – from the old hospital at night.
Sounds like a fun place to work – why on earth did the Arthritis Foundation end up leaving?