A Frightening Vision–Florida

Quayside Art Gallery
17 East Zaragoza Street
Pensacola, Florida

At one corner of Plaza Ferdinand VII in downtown Pensacola is an old firehouse that was converted into an art gallery many years ago. The Germania Fire House was exactly a hundred years old when work began to transform the building into the art gallery in 1973. Since that time, the Quayside Art Gallery has provided space to display and sell the works of many local artists.

Quayside Art Gallery Pensacola Florida 1968
The old Germania Fire House before its transformation into the Quayside Art Gallery, as seen from Plaza Ferdinand VII in 1968. Photo taken by Ray Malinowski for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The building harbors a spirit that visited a pair of firemen in 1892, a visit that garnered an article in the local newspaper.

Pensacola News
2 December 1892
Page 4

A Haunted Truck House.
A Ghost Visits the Night Watchmen of
the Germania Hose Company.

For quite a while the boys who sleep at the Germania truck house have been complaining of hearing ghostly noises about their cots regularly two or three nights in the week. They would lock the truck house and hunt in every nook and cranny without finding any visible cause for the sounds, which would be resumed as soon as they would lie down.

The back door seemed to be heavily charged with the spirit presence, and it would crack and shake at such a fearful rate that the boys’ nerves would become all unstrung.

The boys talked the matter over among themselves and came to the conclusion that this must be the ghost of Jeff Lowe, the negro who was hanged in Pensacola several years ago.

Others thought that this could not be; that the spirit was that of some departed member of the hose company.

The matter remained thus all undecided, and the noises continued, but the climax came at midnight Wednesday.

Geo. Saurez and Willie Britson were alone in the truck house lying upon their cot with the doors all tightly locked. The rapping and ghostly sounds were moving about the room from one side to the other and the back door was clattering like the teeth of a man with a severe chill. The town clock slowly tolled out the hour of midnight, then a queer thing happened.

A faint blue light appeared in the room, out of which was evolved the shadowy form of a man arrayed all in white. It moved slowly toward the cot, and as it advanced it seemed to float through the air instead of walking, as a being in flesh would have done.

The boys were paralyzed with fear, being too badly frightened to cry out. They turned over, burying their faces in the cover and clasped each other so tightly around the necks that each one was complaining yesterday of having sore throats.

The ghost came up to the side of the cot and put its icy hands upon their faces and necks, chilling the blood in their veins and leaving them nearer dead than alive.

The boys remained with their faces hid for what they say was fully half an hour before they recovered sufficiently to peep out, then they found that the mysterious visitor had disappeared as silently as he came.

These facts were gathered last night from George Saurez himself by a representative of THE NEWS.

Mr. Saurez says he does not think it was the ghost of Jeff Lowe, for he was not here when Lowe was hanged. He thinks it was the spirit of a white man.

Since the frightening vision witnessed by George Saurez and Willie Britson, there have been no other publicized reports of paranormal activity from the old firehouse, though the gallery seems to sit on an active place in the city paranormally speaking. Across the street is the former Escambia County Justice Center, which originally housed the county’s jail and courts, as well as serving as the site of executions, including that of Jeff Lowe who is mentioned in the article. This building has been converted into the Pensacola Cultural Center though the negative energy and bad juju that accumulates in places like this remains. See my article on the playhouse phantoms of Pensacola for more information.

Plaza Ferdinand VII
An edge of Plaza Ferdinand VII across the street from the Quayside Art Gallery (the pinkish building on the far right) with the Pensacola Museum of History and the Cultural Center in the background. Photo 2008 by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Besides the art gallery and the cultural center, Plaza Ferdinand VII, a National Historic Landmark, is crowded by sites that all seem to be paranormally charged. These locations include the Pensacola Museum of History which is located inside the old city hall. The old United States Customs House and Post Office is now occupied by the Artel Gallery, a contemporary art gallery, and supposedly the spirit of a woman who committed suicide here many years ago. Seville Quarter, an entertainment complex consisting of a number of bars and restaurants and located just off the plaza, is apparently haunted by the spirit of former bartender who passed away in one of the coolers.

Sources

  • About. Quayside Art Gallery. Accessed 27 August 2022.
  • Brown, Alan. Ghosts of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2014.
  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Pensacola. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • “A Haunted Truck House.” Pensacola News. 12 December 1892. p. 4.
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