As the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is known for its ancient architecture, rich heritage and pristine beaches. With more than four centuries of history, it’s no surprise that this beautiful coastal town also has its share of haunted tales. When touring the Old Jail, wandering around the Flagler College campus and exploring the quaint streets, remember that you may not be alone. Read on to learn about St. Augustine’s most infamous ghosts.
A visit to the Old Jail in St. Augustine is a fun and unique attraction for the entire family. The historic jail was built in 1891 by Henry Flagler and served the city until 1953. It was here that the town’s sheriff, Joe Perry, watched over the prisoners with an iron fist. He took his job very seriously, and at 6’5” and 300 pounds, he was surely an imposing sight. Today, many who visit the Old Jail report seeing the long deceased Sheriff Perry, as it is believed he still lives there.
Heavy footsteps, the sounds of chains and a moaning voice have been reported inside the walls of the Old Jail. Other accounts include strange smells, shadowy figures and cold spots.
Henry Flagler’s influence on the state of Florida is evident in many ways. The magnificent hotels, resorts, churches and the Florida East Coast Railroad are all just a glimpse into how he made a lasting impact on the development of Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
Many folks who visit St. Augustine feel that the legendary business tycoon is still present and living out his death at one of his famed architectural masterpieces, Flagler College, originally the Ponce de Leon Hotel.
It is here that his funeral was held on May 20, 1913. During the service, all the doors and windows were left open to allow his spirit to move on; however, someone unaware of this practice began closing all of them. It is reported that a sudden gust of wind blew through the room, a gust that many believe to be Flagler himself. Trapped inside forevermore, the spirit of Flagler has appeared on several occasions. And as further proof, a tile on the floor in that same room has a marking on it that resembles Flagler’s face.
Two little girls once played together as their father watched over the St. Augustine Lighthouse. This all came to an end one day when an accident ended their lives and forever changed the ambiance at the historic lighthouse. The girls, daughters of Hezekiah Pity, were playing in a cart on the lighthouse grounds when the rope that tied it down broke, sending the cart rolling rapidly down the hill and plunging into the water. Before anyone could save them, the sisters sunk below the water’s surface and they drowned.
To this day, visitors hear the sounds of their laughter and are often spooked by sightings of the eldest daughter still wearing the blue velvet dress she wore when the fatal accident occurred.
Another forever resident of the St. Augustine Lighthouse is Joseph Andreu, one of the original lighthouse keepers. Joseph adored the historic structure and, in addition to his duties as keeper, tended to all its needs and repairs. One day while painting the beloved tower, he fell to his death. Since that fateful day, many lighthouse visitors and workers have seen him, still lingering on, unable to move to the next dimension. The smell of his cigar is often detected, his footsteps are heard on the stairs and his figure has been seen standing at the top of the tower, looking out to sea.
The Judge’s children, who grew up in St. Augustine but had since moved away, decided to relocate their beloved father’s body so he’d be closer to them.
But during the exhuming and relocation process, the poor Judge’s body was violated; a thief stole the gold teeth right out of his mouth and took all the valuables that were buried with him inside the coffin. It was this heinous act that many believe caused the old Judge to haunt the cemetery; and today visitors have witnessed him sitting in a tree, walking around the grounds and wandering about as if he’s looking for something. Unhappy with the loss he suffered, the sad spirit is simply looking for his stolen teeth.