Looking for the most haunted places in St Augustine? You have come to the right place for all the information on the ghosts of St Augustine.
St. Augustine is a charming quaint old town with a history that spans back centuries. It is the oldest continuously inhabited European established city ever to be established in the continental United States. It was first established by the Spanish under the admiral Pedro Menndez de Aviles.
The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for 200 years. It was also designated as the capital of British East Florida in 1763 when the colony was established. The city then retained rulership to Spain in 1783.
This history, going back for hundreds of years, gives the city of St. Augustine many places that are said to have ghosts haunt around the premises. If ghost hunting sparks your curiosity, you’re in the right place. Here is a list of the 5 most haunted places in America’s oldest city, St. Augustine.
5 Haunted Places in St Augustine Only for the Brave!
1. The Old Jail
The old jail in St Augustine was built by Henry Flagler in 1881. He built it as an upgrade from the original jail, which was said to have been an eyesore. Something that wouldn’t do in such close proximity to his newly-built luxurious Ponce de Leon Hotel. The jail housed both male and female inmates from 1881 to 1953.
It was closed due to its unnaturally inhumane punishments and dire conditions. The jail was designed with the idea in mind to have it be as friendly and attractive as possible to tourists who come to visit the beautiful places he’s built. While Flagler spared no expense on the exterior of the building, the interior was designed on a very limited budget resulting in inhumane and miserable conditions.
The jail was also home to the sheriff, who’s quarters were comfortable and equipped with everything one would need. This is a stark contrast to how the male and female cells were. The walls were very thick to conceal the noises of despair that came out from inside. The mattress that inmates were given was a sack stuffed full of Spanish moss, which was usually infested with red bugs.
There were no bathing facilities and the jail was rampant with infections and disease. Prisoners were often shipped out as slaves around the country and were transported inside of metal cages. The maximum security cells in the back were equipped with torture devices. There were at least eight people hanged within the jail, and the amount of people lost due to the cruel treatment and living conditions is substantial.
You can get a guided tour of the Old Jail in St Augustine here.
St Augustine Ghost stories from The Old Jail
Those who live near the jail often report hearing footsteps dragging heavy chains, as if they are shackled to someone’s ankles. They also tend to hear dogs barking from inside of the jail. The last dogs to have made a home of the jail were the sheriff’s dogs, many decades ago.
Of the other sinister noises that emanate from the jail, people also report hearing loud malevolent laughter, wailing and moaning coming from inside of the jail’s thick walls. A stench of sewage also tends to linger around the premises, but there is no sewage to be found.
Visitors and employees also report the feeling of cold hands grabbing their ankles or shoulders, and sometimes they’ve gotten the feeling of someone pulling their hair while meandering through the halls. If you would like to try and get a glimpse of these paranormal phenomenons, you can take a tour through the Old Jail. They also offer night time tours… if you dare. Going on a ghost tour in St Augustine is also a great way to learn new things about the city.
Book your ghost city tours here.
2. Tolomato Cemetery
Tolomato Cemetery is arguably the oldest cemetery in Florida. It is also one of the best St Augustine haunted spots.
It is the official final resting place of around a thousand St. Augustine residents. It was formally established as a cemetery in 1777, although it was known to be a burial site and village for the Guale Native American tribe for generations before the Spanish and English began battling over Florida.
The cemetery was established when Father Pedro Camps gained permission from Florida Governor Patrick Tonyn to institute a cemetery for his parishioners. He was the pastor of Minorcan colonists, who were brought to Florida in 1768 as indentured servants on a plantation in New Smyrna. Father Pedro Camps was buried in the cemetery in 1790, but then re-interred ten years later and laid to rest in the newly built cathedral.
The first gravestone to be found on the premises belongs to fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Forrester. Unfortunately, graverobbers have broken into her tomb and stripped her down, selling her clothing as souvenirs. This kind of behavior was commonplace in the Tolomato Cemetery, as unspeakable crimes happened often at this location.
Book a walking St Augustine Jail ghost tour of Tolomato Cemetery as well as Huguenot cemetery here. An account of St Augustine’s Yellow Fever Epidemic is provided on this St Augustine ghost tour.
Ghost stories from Tolomato Cemetery
The first bishop of St. Augustine is also buried in these haunted grounds. His name was Augustin Vernot, and he died in 1876. His coffin was custom-made and made of cast-iron with a glass on the upper portion so patrons can get a good view of the cadaver. The casket was extremely air-tight.
The hot summer Florida sun shining through the window on the casket onto the body caused it to create a beam of heat. This led to the body releasing gasses. Since there was nowhere for the gasses to escape, the coffin began to shake violently. All of a sudden, the bishop’s body exploded everywhere, shattering the upper glass area as it expelled outward.
The visitors at the funeral were coated with a heavy blanketing of rotting flesh and body parts. The funeral attendees were alarmed and quickly transported his body to the white chapel in the back of the cemetery. He was buried next to a prospective saint from Cuba, Father Varela. They are often seen haunting the grounds together. People often report seeing two tall men wearing clergymen cloaks sauntering down the rows of graves. They are believed to be Father Varela and Bishop Augustin Vernot.
These tall clergymen are not the only souls to haunt this graveyard. The ghost of James P. Morgan can be found sitting in the Oak tree that he was perched in before he met his ultimate fate. Just after his 5th birthday, he was clambering around the oak tree in his front yard that hung over the cemetery, as he often did. The boy made a wrong move causing him to fall and fatally snap his neck.
His mother came out of the house looking for James and wondering why he hadn’t gone home for dinner yet, only to find her son laying lifeless on the cemetery’s dirt where the boy fell for the last time. The mother immediately began insisting that James be buried exactly where he died. The mother often reported seeing her son sitting in the oak tree wearing the same white shirt and linen overalls that he was wearing when he passed away. The townspeople were originally skeptical of the grieving mother’s claims, but soon became believers as they began to see the ghost for themselves.
Visitors have also reported seeing a woman in a long white gown haunting the historic cemetery. It is said that this woman was a young bride who passed away just a few days before her wedding. Her parents decided to bury her in her wedding gown, leading her to haunt the cemetery with the most lavish wardrobe.
The cemetery remained Catholic, even during the shifting power between the British and the Spanish. The Catholic cemetery was closed in 1884, although there were two unauthorized burials that happened after the closing.
One was for Catalina Usina Llambias in 1886, and the other was for Robert Sabate in 1892. Each of the families received a $25.00 fine for violating the law. The cemetery is typically closed to the public, allowing entry once a month on the third Saturday of every month. Entry is free to the public, but donations are encouraged.
3. Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos was constructed in 1672 by the Spanish. It is a star-shaped fortification composed of coquina, causing it to be very strong and able to withstand heavy artillery. This fort is famous for housing hundreds of Native Americans and European soldiers.
This is also the location that Native American Seminole chief, Osceola, was beheaded and had his head kept as a souvenir. Osceola was the leader of the Seminole tribe. He managed to evade capture from the Spanish his entire life until 1837 when he was tricked by a false truce and stolen to Castillo de San Marcos with 200 of his men. He was in detention under the military and grew very ill.
As his illness grew, he became under the care of Dr. Weedon. Weedon became almost obsessed over the tribe leader. Just before his death, he was transferred to a medical facility in South Carolina for a wicked throat infection. He passed away very quickly after his transfer.
Dr. Weedon then sliced Osceola’s head off and put it inside a jar full of alcohol and preservatives like a trophy. Native American clothing and especially body parts were considered high-value items.
Visitors now report seeing a headless apparition, which is believed to belong to the mutilated Seminole chief. There are also often reports of shadow men pacing inside of the fort’s wall. He’s also been spotted just outside of the property of the fort.
One of the most haunted places in Florida for sure!
Ghost stories from Castillo de San Marcos
The walls of the fort are also haunted by the ghost of an adulterous woman. People who visit the fort often report smelling an almost nauseatingly sweet perfume, which tells you if her soul is haunting nearby or not. During the second Spanish occupation in 1784, Col. Garcia Marti and his wife Delores Marti moved to Florida and decided to start a new life for themselves.
The colonel was a very harsh man and treated his wife in a cold manner. He grew to suspect his wife of cheating on him with his handsome and charming assistant. One day, just like any other, C0l. Marti was ordering Capt. Abela around and while they were shaking hands before parting ways, Col. Marti smelled a scent that was all too familiar to him.
It was his wife’s perfume on Captain Abela’s hands. Captain Abela soon stopped showing up in the fort, Col. Marti claimed that he went on a mission to Cuba. Serendipitously, Col. Marti also said that his wife Delores had fallen incredibly ill and had to travel to a medical facility that is especially far away.
They never stepped foot outside of the fort’s property ever again. In 1833, the truth was revealed when Lieutenant Tuttle, an American soldier and architecture buff, noticed a slight hollow echo emanating from the coquina concrete. He busted down the wall with the hollow echo and found the skeletal remains of two individuals. It is believed that these two skeletons belong to Delores Marti and Captain Abela.
Rage-filled Colonel Marti kidnapped his wife and Delores was known to be a lover of artificial scents and often doused herself with perfume before interacting with the world. That may be the cause of her ghost carrying with it a sickeningly sweet aroma. Whenever visitors can smell that heavy stench, they know her spirit is stalking the halls somewhere nearby.
Entrance to the fort costs $15 for adults above the age of sixteen years old. The fort is open from 9:00 am- 5:15 pm, with the final entrance ticket selling at 5:00 pm. The park is closed from midnight to 5:30 am. Ghost hunters are still in luck though, as there are apparitions reported in broad daylight on a regular basis.
Book here Riding with Ghosts cart in St Augustine. You can also book old town Trolley Tours which pass by the Old Jail and other points of interest and give some information on ghost encounters in ST Augustine. You can also book a haunted trolley tour of St Augustine.
4. St Augustine Lighthouse
This historic lighthouse has been functioning for centuries. Even before it was an operational lighthouse, it acted as a wooden watchtower that was built by the Spanish in the late 1500’s to keep an eye out for enemies while the Castillo de San Marcos was still under construction.
The Spanish replaced the wooden watchtower in 1737 with a 30-foot tower made of coquina. However, the light inside of the watchtower was extinguished during the Civil War in 1867. The lighthouse that is currently standing spans 164 feet tall and is 169 years old, located on the northern end of Anastasia Island.
There are many troubled souls that are said to haunt the grounds of the lighthouse. The most common of them may be the ghosts of the Pittee girls. Visitors of the St Augustine haunted lighthouse often report hearing little girls’ laughter echoing through the premises.
In 1872, the lighthouse was under construction and under the oversight of Hezekiah Pittee, who relocated to the island from Maine with his wife, Mary, and his children, Edward, Adelaide, Eliza, and Carrie.
The children also ran around the property making up stories and playing games. They would also ride around in a loose railway car towards the edge of the bank, being stopped from falling over the ledge by a wooden board. On July 10, 1873 Adelaide, Eliza, Carrie and another 10-year-old girl were playing on the railcar, and the wooden board was not in its place.
The railcar dumped the girls in the water and landed on top of them. A nearby worker, Dan Sessions saw the incident and ran to the girls’ rescue. Three of the girls drowned, and only four-year-old Carrie survived. Their laughter can still be heard wafting through the property. There are also commonly small child size dirty footprints left on the hard ground.
Ghost stories from St Augustine Lighthouse
Visitors of the lighthouse also often report seeing an unusually tall shadow figure lurking through the grounds. With his ghostly appearance, people also report smelling a sickly sweet cigar scent. This apparition is typically referred to as “The Man” and is typically wearing a navy blue jacket and a captain’s cap.
Some people believe this ghost belongs to William Russell, a lighthouse keeper from the 1850’s. Others argue that it is the ghost of Joseph Andreu, who lost his life after losing his balance while standing on scaffolding putting a fresh coat of paint on the lighthouse in 1859.
Some spectators of the lighthouse have seen a ghost of a woman walking down the catwalk and hanging perilously over the railing until she vanishes. The female phantom is believed to be Maria Mestre de Los Delores Andreu. In 1859, she became the first woman to serve in the Coast Guard.
She also became the first Hispanic American woman to command a shore installation, the St. Augustine Lighthouse. She took over oversight of the lighthouse from her husband, Joseph when he met his fateful end after falling out of the lighthouse.
Her ghost is often seen hanging over the railing and looking down at the ground where her husband’s lifeless body once laid. That would mean that the apparition of “The Man” and the female apparition were once married. I guess “till death do us part” is not applicable for those two.
If you would like to try and get a glimpse at some of these shadowy figures with a rich history, you can visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse. It is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm everyday, excluding some holidays.
You are able to visit the lighthouse at night by taking the Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour, it is the only St Augustine Lighthouse ghost tour that grants you access to the lighthouse after hours. Tickets cost $29.95 and will give you access to a guided tour highlighting the lighthouse’s ghosts and the dark history they carry with them. Rated by many as the best ghost tour in St Augustine.
5. St. Francis Inn
The patrons of St. Francis Inn are not the only souls that you will find staying within its walls. The haunted bed and breakfast in Augustine was built in 1791 and is considered the oldest inn in the city. It is one of the best haunted hotels in St Augustine for sure.
It has been called numerous different names over the centuries, but reopened in 1948 under the name St. Francis Inn.
Guests who are brave enough to stay at the inn regularly report a variety of different paranormal experiences. There have been loud banging noises heard, voices whispering into patrons’ ears at night, full blown apparitions haunting the halls, some have said they felt as if there was another phantom inside of their minds and were being possessed.
Ghost stories from St Francis Inn
The most well known paranormal sighting is that of a ghost named Lily. Lily has caused so much paranormal activity in one of the bedrooms on the third floor that it is now dubbed the name, “Lily’s room”. Her soul is said to belong to one of the servant girls that was brought from Barbados. The nephew of the inn owner at the time came to visit his uncle and help at the inn and fell in love with Lily.
The inn owner was also a major general in the Confederate army. It was clear that he would never approve of his nephew and Lily’s interracial love affair. So, they snuck about and would hide in empty rooms and enjoy each other’s company. One day the inn owner walked in on his nephew and Lily.
He dismissed Lily and ordered his nephew to never see her again. Some people believe that the general killed Lily. The boy was stuck with a dark depression and ended up killing himself on the third floor of the inn. Some believe he hung himself while others claim he jumped off the third floor of the inn.
Now, guests of the inn often see a girl sneaking through the halls wearing all white, she is believed to be Lily. Psychics who have visited the inn have reported that Lily and her lover have not been reunited in the afterlife and are in a constant search for each other.
While staying in the inn, one woman reported hearing a loud banging sound and awoke to see her purse and belongings inside of it had been thrown all around the room. It is said that Lily and her lover may be jealous of the living. Another guest of the inn awoke to find her purse completely full of water, with no logical reason as to where the water came from.
One newlywed bride was awoken to a passionate kiss on her lips, she looked over and became alarmed when she saw her husband sleeping soundly next to her. Another man who stayed in Lily’s room woke up in the morning underneath his bed frame. It was such a tight squeeze that he needed assistance to get out.
If you would like to get a sight of the ghosts of St. Francis Inn, you are still able to stay at the inn. If you are brave enough, ask to stay in “Lily’s room”. You may get to see the female apparition dressed in all white for yourself.
If you know any more haunted spots in St Augustine that you know of let us know in the comments below. Another haunted location you might want to check out that we did not include in this list is the Spanish Military Hospital Museum.
Author: Reilly Mulligan is a sailing enthusiast from Florida who has spent her life sailing and exploring the Sunshine State.