Five Hauntings in the ‘City Under Five Flags’

Pensacola occupies land on Pensacola Bay on the Gulf coast of Florida. Starting with the Spanish who created the first settlement in the continental U. S. on this bay in 1559, the city has existed under five different flags throughout its history. Besides the Spanish, the city has been ruled over by France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, and the United States, with each leaving their own marks, both physically and spiritually, on the city. This article looks at a selection of the haunted places here.

Blount Building
3 West Garden Street

Blount Building Pensacola Florida
Blount Building, 2008, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the early morning hours of November 1, 1905, fire destroyed several buildings on Palafox Street between Garden and Romana Streets including a building owned by lawyer William A. Blount. Following the fire, Mr. Blount commenced construction on a large, and most importantly, fire-proof seven-story structure to house his firm. The Blount Building, designed in the prevalent Chicago Style, was completed in 1907. In 2015, the building underwent a major renovation and it now houses offices of several firms and businesses. A 2005 article on Pensacola hauntings states that the structure “is no stranger to unusual and unexplained activity.”

Sources

  • Baltrusis, Sam. “Ghost Hunter: Pensacola’s Most Haunted.” inweekly, Pensacola Independent News. 20 October 2005.
  • Blount Building. Accessed 23 January 2023.
  • Blount Building. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 January 2023.

Old Sacred Heart Hospital
1010 North Twelfth Avenue

Old Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola Florida
Old Sacred Heart Hospital, 2008, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

When it opened in 1915, Pensacola Hospital was the first comprehensive medical facility in the area. Just prior, a citizens committee was set up featuring several prominent locals, including members of the clergy, to bring about the construction of a hospital. The committee partnered with the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul to build and run the large institution. The Sisters insisted on engaging Hungarian-born architect Albert O. Von Herbulis to design the building in English Gothic style. The massive four-story building with two large wings opened in September of that year.

The Sisters operated the hospital as Pensacola Hospital until 1949, when the name was changed to Sacred Heart Hospital. In 1965, a new facility was constructed, and the institution left the large Gothic building. Several years later, the Pensacola Private School of Liberal Arts took over and operated within the building. After a decade of deferred maintenance, the building was condemned by the city for safety reasons. The following year, an investment group took over the old hospital restoring and renovating it for use as a business complex.

Today, the old hospital, now known as Tower East, is home to offices and businesses, with a popular pizza joint, O’Zone Pizza, occupying part of the old basement space. Since reopening, tales have emerged of the building being haunted. Some have suggested that the specter of one of the Sisters continues to glide through the old hospital’s halls, still going about her nursing duties.

Sources

Romana Street

Romana Street, named for the third Marques de la Romana, stretches from Pace Boulevard to the edge of Pensacola Bay and runs through much of the oldest portions of the city. From its earliest time, the city has been haunted by pirates. In its earliest days, pirates overshadowed the success and prosperity of Pensacola and even now they, and sometimes their victims, continue to the haunt the city in the form of apparitions and paranormal activity.

The legend of the ghost of Romana Street was created through the work of one of these bloodthirsty pirates. One evening in the 1820s a gang of pirates roaming the streets seized upon a young couple. Killing the man, the group tried to kidnap the young lady, but she put up a mighty resistance. With the large diamond ring she wore, the young lady gouged out the eyes of the pirate and he dropped her in pain. Enraged, he began swinging his cutlass blindly. A moment later, he was able to decapitate the young lady.

In the years since the senseless and bloody murder, people walking along Romana Street after dark have seen the specter of a young lady walking along the street without her head. Interestingly, this is not the only headless wraith in the area, a similar specter has been spotted in Government Street, and at a place called Lady’s Walk on Santa Rosa Island, just south of the city.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Pensacola. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • Johnson, Sandra & Leora Sutton. Ghosts, Legends and Folklore of Old Pensacola. Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Historical Society, 1994.
  • Romana Street. Accessed 30 January 2023.

St. John’s Cemetery
610 North Spring Street

Once St. Michael’s Cemetery, near the heart of the old city, began to fill up, St. John’s Cemetery was opened in 1876. This cemetery now covers 26 acres a short distance from the city’s original municipal cemetery. Supposedly, the spirits of children and the 19th century outlaw Railroad Bill have been spotted here.

One of the most scandalous graves in this cemetery is that of Mary C. “Mollie” McCoy. She was one of the city’s best-known madams operating her upscale bordello on Zaragoza Street. After her death she was buried here, much to the chagrin of more respectable local ladies who eventually had the city remove the grave marker. But not before the marker acquired the reputation of bringing luck to the love lives of those that touched it. A new marker was erected here in 2012.

Sources

  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/94785186/mary-c-mccoy: accessed 19 February 2023), memorial page for Mary C “Mollie” McCoy (1843–4 Feb 1920), Find a Grave Memorial ID 94785186, citing Saint John’s Cemetery, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, USA; Maintained by Jimbob BillyJoe (contributor 47265124).
  • Moon, Troy. “Pensacola’s spooky past haunts the present.” Pensacola News-Journal. 15 October 2016.
  • Muncy, Mark and Kari Schultz. Creepy Florida: Phantom Pirates, the Hog Island Witch, the Demented Doctor at the Don Vicente & More. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2019.
  • John’s Cemetery. Pensepedia. Accessed 30 January 2023.

St. Michael’s Cemetery
6 North Alcaniz Street

This location has been broken out into its own blog entry and can be found at The glowing skeleton and friends.

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