Newsworthy Haunts 1/30/2013

It’s a gloomy stormy day in the Deep South, a perfect time to check for news of Southern ghosts.

TacoLu Baja Mexicana
1712 Beach Boulevard
Jacksonville Beach, Florida

The famous and haunted Homestead Restaurant has gone south, south of the border, that is. Opened in 1947, The Homestead Restaurant was, until a few years ago, a Jacksonville Beach landmark known for its fried chicken and other Southern specialties. Sadly, recent years have not been so kind to the restaurant or fat, sugar and cholesterol laden Southern cuisine in general. The restaurant was closed for a while but then reopened. Evidently, it was not the same and the restaurant closed again. Recently, a local taco joint has taken up residence in this haunted landmark and, according to a recent article in The Florida Times-Union, they’re still being visited by something otherworldly.

After inheriting the 1932 structure, Alpha Paynter opened the building that would become the restaurant as a boarding house. As boarding houses fell out of fashion, Mrs. Paynter opened the place as a restaurant, The Homestead Restaurant. The place became known for its fried chicken as much as its kitschy interior. Mrs. Paynter sold the restaurant in the early 1960s and died that same year, though her indomitable spirit that built the successful restaurant remained.

The tales of ghosts in the building go back many years and have been widely recorded. A spirit, believed to be Alpha Paynter, has been spirits and causes the occasional lighthearted disturbance. But two other spirits in the restaurant may not be so lighthearted. Dave Lapham reports in his Ghosthunting Florida that there may be two other female spirits: the unhappy shades of two former residents who committed suicide in the building 10 years apart.

A glance at the menu shows no sign of a Fried Chicken Taco, perhaps that might be a good idea to pay homage to Mrs. Paynter and her two spiritual companions.


  • FitzRoy, Maggie. “Local legend lives on at Beaches restaurant.” The Florida Times-Union. 27 January 2013.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • Mills, Gary T. “Dining Notes: TacoLu plans move to former Homestead spot in Jacksonville Beach.” The Florida Times-Union. 31 August 2012.

Ijams Nature Center
2915 Island Home Avenue
Knoxville, Tennessee

The Ijams Nature Center is reveling in its haunted side. The famed nature center is hosting a ghost hunt for the public this upcoming Saturday. If I didn’t have a previous engagement, I’d love to attend.

This public park, established by bird expert Henry Ijams and the “First Lady of Knoxville Garden Clubs,” Alice Yoe Ijams, serves to preserve nature within Knoxville and educate the public. Except for information on the ghost hunt, I’ve not been able to locate any details on the ghosts of the park, though I’ll be looking forward to finding out more.


  • History.” Ijams Nature Center. Accessed 30 January 2013.
  • News Sentinel Staff. “Ijams Nature Center to host ghost hunt. Knoxville News Sentinel. 23 January 2013.

Longwood Village Inn
300 North Ronald Reagan Boulevard
Longwood, Florida

I really want to find out how George Clark died. The owner of the then St. George Hotel, Clark died in April 1923 during an ice cream social he was hosting there for the community. So far, none of the sources have revealed the actual circumstances of his death, though most report that he died at the rear of the building.

Longwood Village Inn, 2007. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The latest news about the Longwood Village Inn is that the building is for sale. Built during Florida’s first railroad boom in 1885, this historic hotel may get a second chance during Florida’s second railroad boom in the very near future. With support from the Federal government, state and local governments, SunRail is being constructed. This rail system will connect Poinciana to DeLand through the heart of downtown Orlando. The station linking Longwood will be constructed just across the street from the inn.

But it seems that George Clark’s spirit is not the only one in the 30 room hotel. The hotel has most recently been used as office space and workers in the old rooms have reported the sounds of giggling and tapping while others have smelled cigar smoke. Strange lights and apparitions round out the paranormal activity.


  • Busdeker, Jon. “Historic Longwood Village Inn for sale in anticipation of SunRail.” Orlando Sentinel. 17 January 2013.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • “A piece of haunted history goes up for sale in Longwood.” 18 January 2013.
  • Randall, Elizabeth. “Haunted Longwood Village Inn has Ghostly Residents.” 4 August 2011.
  • SunRail. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 30 January 2013.

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