Dare to explore these spooky places: the haunted places of Tampa

TAMPA, FL – The haunted houses staged during the Halloween season are one thing. But only the most intrepid dare to venture into these notorious haunted sites of Tampa where spectral figures are real.

Tampa Theater

Movie buffs enjoyed silent films starring actors Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Buster Keaton when the Tampa Theater at 711 N. Franklin St. opened in 1926. Today the theater continues to be a venue. popular for classic movies for moviegoers – alive and dead.

According to locals, the 1926 Tampa Theater at 711 N. Franklin St. is haunted by a number of spirits, including Foster “Fink” Finley, the theater’s first projectionist. Finley worked in the theater from the 1940s and reportedly died there of a heart attack in 1965.

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He would have continued to wander in the theater where he chain-smokes. Theatergoers swear they can smell cigarette smoke in the theater, where smoking has long been banned.

Rosa Rio’s ghost can also linger in the theater. The theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ is a 1,400-pipe instrument installed to accompany silent films, and Rosa Rio was the organist who performed it until her death in 2010 at the age of 107.

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On evenings when the public is away, the staff claim to hear Rosa playing the organ. It is also very protective of the ancient instrument. A theater director accidentally backed into the orchestra pit and was about to fall on the organ when Rosa deflected her fall so as not to damage it.

Then there’s the Lady in White who was seen pacing backstage and the mysterious man who appears in Seat 308.

Guests can check out the stories for themselves when visiting the Ghosts of the Tampa Theater. The 90-minute tour begins in the lobby and includes climbing the stairs and long periods of standing. Doors open 15 minutes prior to tour time.

Visits are scheduled:

  • Saturday October 16 at 11 a.m.
  • Monday October 18 at 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday October 19 at 11 a.m.
  • Wednesday October 20 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday October 22 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Saturday 23 October at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Sunday October 24 at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Tuesday October 26 at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday October 27 at 3 p.m.
  • Thursday October 28 at 11 a.m.
  • Friday October 29 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Saturday October 30 at 11 a.m.
  • Sunday October 31 at 11 a.m.

Tickets cost $ 15.

Go beyond the stories and spend time investigating the Tampa Theater’s supernatural claims. The 90 Minute Late Night Paranormal Investigation Experience add-on allows a limited number of guests to stay after the ghost tours on Saturday and Sunday October 23 and 24, to review previously collected videos, photos and audio. evidence of spiritual activity at the Tampa Theater, use professional material, and investigate alongside researchers at Genesis Paranormal Services. Admission is limited to 25 participants.

The Paranormal Investigation Experience add-on is $ 25 for general admission and $ 20 for members. Click here.

City of Ybor

No place in Tampa Bay can claim more hauntings than Ybor City.

Founded in 1885, the city was built on the backs of Cuban and Italian immigrants who came to America in search of a better life. Many ended up working for one of the city’s cigar factories. And hundreds of people were killed in fires in hastily constructed wood-frame buildings in the city and during the yellow fever outbreak in the 1900s.

The largest fire in Tampa history occurred on March 1, 1908, at 1914 12th Ave., according to Tampa Fire Rescue. The fire started in the shingled roof of a boarding house and quickly spread to more than 17 blocks. Countless adults and children died in the blaze. Store owners swear they can still hear the laughter of the youngest victims of the fire.

During Prohibition, Ybor City became a notorious haunt for gangsters. Gaming Czar Charles Wall used political connections to set up a bolita gaming racket in Ybor City in the 1920s and opened the lavish sports parlor, the El Dorado Lounge, on 8th Avenue and 14th Street. It has become a haven for underworld figures and the scene of drive-by shootouts of Wall’s rival, Salvatore Trafficante Sr.

Plus, the top floors of El Dorado are said to be the “biggest bad name house outside of New Orleans.”

Between 1930 and 1959, Tampa witnessed more than 25 gang murders, most of them in Ybor City. Among them, on November 10, 1936, George “Saturday” Zarate, a drug dealer of New York gangster Charles “Lucky” Luciano, was shot dead in front of El Dorado. A year later, Joe Vaglichi, whose brother was Al Capone’s bodyguard, died in a hail of bullets from another car driving past the playhouse.

The former Don Vicente Hotel in Ybor City is considered one of the most haunted buildings in America, according to Haunted Rooms. Built in 1895, the structure served as a hotel, meeting place (El Bien Publico) and medical clinic.

Jose Luis Avellena Jr. and his disembodied nurse haunt the basement of Don Vicente. There are also reports of a mad doctor who experimented on patients and then burned the bodies in the basement incinerator.

When the hotel was operating, room 305, in particular, was a reported hot spot for paranormal activity. Guests have reported seeing the appearance of a man at the foot of the bed. Other common hauntings in the Don Vicente included flickering lights, squeaking footsteps, doors opening and closing, and faucets opening and closing.

Another infamous haunted place is the Cuban Club. Built in 1917, it was named one of America’s most haunted buildings by Travel Channel. The hauntings of the historic club are attributed to the ghosts of two people who died in the building in the 1920s. One is an actor who committed suicide on stage. The other is a board member who was murdered by another board member during a heated argument.

Visitors reported a piano playing on its own, the elevator moving up and down although no one pressed the button, and entities walking the halls dressed in period clothing.

Explore these places and more with the official Ybor City ghost tour. The tour runs most nights in October, October 10-31 (there are no tours October 15-16). Tickets for the two-hour tour cost $ 25 for adults and $ 10 for children ages 8 to 12. The tour is not open to children under 5 and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. For schedules and reservations, click here.

Henry B.

The Henry B. Plant Museum with its distinctive Moorish minarets is now part of the University of Tampa. But from 1891 to 1933, it was a luxurious 511-room hotel that served as a major winter resort for the rich and famous, including Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Queen of England, Booker T. Washington, and Stephen Crane.

Apparently some of those guests refused to leave and continue to haunt the halls today.

People have reported hearing the disembodied voices of long-dead servants and the sounds of the dice being thrown in the hotel’s old gambling casino. Students report a strange feeling of being watched and doors that open and close on their own.

The most well-known specter is the entity known simply as the “brown man”. He is described as a man wearing a brown suit with glowing red eyes. He appears and disappears down the stairs of Plant Hall.

There’s also a ghost couple who were seen dancing the night away in the hotel’s old ballroom.

Visitors can glimpse these spirits when the museum located at 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. hosts when the museum has a weird night out at the Tampa Bay Hotel from October 22 to 23 and October 29 to 30 from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Participants will explore the museum by lantern and candlelight, hear real spooky stories of poisonings and unexplained deaths, and learn about Victorian mourning and funeral customs.

Space is limited to 40 people per hour and masks are mandatory for all guests. The event is intended for people 16 years of age and over.

Ticket prices are: $ 20 for museum members and $ 30 for non-members. Click here.

Oaklawn Cemetery

Oaklawn Cemetery, the oldest public cemetery in downtown Tampa, is the final resting place of notable Tampa residents like cigar magnate Vicente Martinez-Ybor.

Located at the corner of Morgan and Harrison streets, the cemetery was founded in 1850.
Most notable about the cemetery, the whites and slaves were buried there. It also contains the graves of pirates, Confederate soldiers, soldiers from the Second Seminol War, and victims of yellow fever. With this kind of story, hauntings are a given.

According to Deborah Frethem, author of Haunted Tampa: Spirits by the Bay (2014), among the spirits that haunt the cemetery is a man named Charles Owen who was hanged in 1882 after breaking into the home of a wealthy Tampa family and attempting to rape the girl.

According to Frethem, the shadow of a man hanging from a hen sometimes appears near Owen’s grave at sunset.

History 6 Feet Under runs a tour titled “Oaklawn Cemetery: What Lies Beneath”, as well as Haunted Tampa Ghost Walk and Spirits and Spirits Stroll tours.

The tour dates are October 16, 23 and 30. Click here to book.

See the related story: Ybor City named one of America’s most haunted cities: take a tour

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