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Key West Ghost Stories

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Audubon House – The Lost Dauphin

The Audubon House is home to yet another apparition.

This one, a tall man dressed in a ruffled shirt and a long jacket of another era, has appeared on the entry porch and in the gift shop gallery which displays the famous Audubon bird prints.

Since no other person in these parts would dress in such an affected manner, it could be none other than the famous naturalist himself, John James Audubon, who visited Key West to find tropical bird specimens for his work on “Birds of America.” He stayed on the island for less than two weeks in 1832 – long before the house was built. He never stayed overnight on the island; as a matter of fact, rather, he chose to stay on a boat anchored in the harbor, so fearful was he of catching the dreaded yellow fever.

Some say he is back – searching for more of our lovely birds to shoot. You see, in his day, when there were no cameras to record images, Audubon had to kill his subjects in order to paint them accurately.

Key West Audubon House

There could be yet another reason Audubon haunts this house. It’s rather far-fetched, if you ask me.

It involves a conspiracy theory; one that surrounds Audubon’s true identity. Some say John James Audubon is the Lost Dauphin – the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. His mother was beheaded when he was 9 and he was reportedly smuggled out of France, adopted by one Jean Audubon, who brought the young boy to America.

This belief was so widespread that Audubon renounced his claims to the throne under pressure by his adoptive father who was concerned for his safety.

DNA testing has proven this theory to be untrue. Nonetheless, to this day, many monarchists in France still maintain he was the Lost Dauphin, the tragic heir to the monarchy. Believers say Audubon took his secret to his grave. Living and dying a double life, his soul has never found peace and has sought anonymity on the island.

The Perils of Taking Work Home 

Across the street from St. Paul’s Episcopal was the home and office of Dr. Warren - another local physician. It is now a guesthouse: the OLD TOWN MANOR.

Dr. Warren, it appears, still takes his work home with him.

As was common in his day, the right front half of the first floor of the house, across from the parlor, was his office. It has been converted into guest rooms at the inn. Guests staying in those rooms have been awakened in the night by a dream – the same dream: a doctor looks down at a patient lying on a table writhing in pain. The doctor appears unable to do anything. He walks back and forth in distress. That would explain the pacing other guests have heard outside the door of that very room.