Attending their own funeral–Pensacola, FL

Old Christ Church
405 South Adams Street
Pensacola, Florida

N.B. This article was previously published in “The Terrors of US 29–A Ghost Tour,” but it has since been revised and expanded.

The Historic Pensacola Village is a collection of historic structures and museums in the heart of downtown Pensacola. With all these historic buildings, the village has also inadvertently included many spirits in their collection. Old Christ Church is part of that collection and may include several spirits.

Old Christ Church Pensacola FL
Old Christ Church, 2008. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to the church’s National Register of Historic Places nomination form, this building is the oldest place of worship in Northwest Florida. The Episcopalian congregation formed in 1829 and commenced construction on this church in 1830. The congregation began worshipping in the church in 1832 and it was consecrated in 1838. In 1862, after Confederate General Braxton Bragg evacuated his forces from the city, Union troops took over and burned much of the city and the surrounding area. Initially, they turned the church into a barracks and later converted it to use as a chapel. Contemporary accounts note that during this time, Union troops disinterred the remains of several of the church’s rectors and desecrated them. After the congregation returned, they continued using the building until 1903 when a new church was constructed a short distance away. The old church was used by the City of Pensacola as a public library from 1937 to 1957 before it was reopened as a museum.

In 1988, archaeologists located the remains of three of the early rectors. Just as the contemporary accounts noted, their remains had been desecrated. Forensic specialists identified the remains as belonging to Reverends Joseph Saunders, Frederick R. Peake, and David Flower. Appropriately, they were reinterred under the church’s floor and a lavish funeral service was conducted for the three.

One of the funeral attendees later explained that he saw a strange sight during the service. As the procession entered the church, he saw three odd priests walking with the living clergy. Wearing long black robes and barefoot, the three men disappeared a short time later. It should be noted that traditionally, Episcopalian rectors were buried without shoes.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Pensacola. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • Hagen, Richard S. and Linda V. Ellsworth. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Old Christ Church. 19 February 1973.
  • Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore, Vol. 3. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2007.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • Moore, Joyce Elson. Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2008.
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