Explore Pensacola's Haunted History

By Scott Page
Five haunted locations in the City of Five Flags
By Scott Page

Is the Pensacola Lighthouse still inhabited by a former keeper? Is the Pensacola Lighthouse still inhabited by a former keeper? The City of Pensacola celebrates its 450th birthday this year.

A lot has happened in these parts since Don Tristan de Luna stepped on the beaches here in 1559.

The area has been witness to five different governments, a countless number of military operations, and a changing landscape, altered by powerful hurricanes.

As the years go by, Pensacola, like any other place, is constantly changing and moving on. But there are always things, and even people, that remain behind, long after their time, and physical bodies, have passed.

It only seems fitting that those that remain behind be the focus of an article written on the eve of Halloween. To that end, I present, in no particular order, a list of Five Spooky/Haunted Places in Pensacola.

1. St. Michael's Cemetery

St. Michael's Cemetery, located at 6 North Alcaniz Street, has been in operation since the 1700s. There are over 3,200 graves resting within it's iron gates. According to local tales, the spirits of a few of the residents may still be active.

St. Michael's contains the graves of many people that helped shape the history, politics, and commerce of Pensacola and the rest of the state. People say they have seen lights circling gravestones and heard voices while inside the cemetery at night. Are those same influential people longing to shape the circumstances of our time?

2. Pensacola Lighthouse

The first lighthouse was moved to Pensacola in 1823 from its previous post at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Later in the 19th Century, the current lighthouse tower was constructed on the north side of Pensacola Bay, which now is a part of the Naval Air Station.

It is said that the original lighthouse keeper Jeremiah Ingraham still tends to the tower today. Lighthouse visitors have experienced strange occurrences including whispering voices, cold spots and the sound of footsteps on the stairs. There is also a stain on the floor that resembles blood - perhaps it's Jeremiah Ingraham's, as legend suggests he may have been murdered in the lighthouse.

3. Old Sacred Heart Hospital

The Pensacola Hospital, also known as the Old Sacred Heart Hospital, is a historic hospital located at 1010 North 12th Avenue. It opened in September 1915 as the first Catholic hospital in Florida.

There is a hallway in the hospital where the nuns would cross to go into the chapel. It has been reported that the kind old spirit of one of the sisters frequents the corridor. Legend says she will often tap people on the shoulder from behind, much as she did in life.

4. The Gray House

The Gray House, on Alcaniz Street, was built in the 1700s and is said to be haunted.

Their is a local legend that the ghost of a sea captain named Thomas Moristo, who lived there in the 1700s, is believed to still reside there. When the home is vacant, passers-by have reported seeing a man peering through the windows. Many people who lived in The Gray House reported that they have turned on the stove and left the kitchen, only to return and find the stove turned off. The house was once in a bad fire, and it is believed the ghost does these things attempting to prevent another fire.

5. The Dorr House

The Dorr House is located at 311 South Adams Street in Downtown.

There is a floor to ceiling mirror in the formal sitting room. It's said that when a female visitor stands in its sights, if they have on a short skirt, they report feeling a tugging, as if someone is trying to make the skirt longer. Many visitors and guides have reported smelling fresh-cut roses at intervals followed by an extremely cold spot. Roses were Mrs. Dorr's favorite flower.

Visitors are encouraged to mind their manners, as Mrs. Dorr doesn't allow rudeness and has been known to make sure the perpetrator doesn't stay or wants to leave immediately. There is no doubt that Mrs. Dorr is still the lady of the house.

As is evident by these tales, and many others, the City of Five Flags has a rich haunted history. So rich, in fact, that the Pensacola Historical Society offers haunted walking and trolley tours that visit many of these sites.

For 19 years the Haunted House Walking and Trolley Tours have taken place on the two weekends before Halloween.

Details about this month's tours are as follows: Tours are Fridays and Saturdays, October 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31. Walking Tours leave every 30 minutes from 6 until 8:30 p.m., with the tours lasting an hour. Trolley Tours leave at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m., and last one hour. Walking Tour tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Trolley Tour tickets are $16 for adults an $8 for children 12 and under.

For more information, contact the Pensacola Historical Museum at 850-595-1559 or wdavis4@uwf.edu.