The Treasure Coast is haunted.
It’s no surprise for an area originally inhabited by the Ais tribe of Native Americans since at least 800 B.C., and named for a fleet of ships that wrecked on its reefs in 1715.
Here are the most haunted places, along with their histories and ghost stories, according to myriad sources:
Haunted Florida:10 places guaranteed to scare you
Old Fellsmere School
A boy named Billy reportedly haunts the Fellsmere Public School, built in 1916, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 and refurbished for city offices in 2010.
Ghost stories abound, including one from a cleaning woman who reported seeing a boy in old-time clothing sitting on the steps. She also reported her stuff being moved around, her broom being grabbed and pebbles being thrown at her.
While in the basement, Larry Lawson and his team reported hearing someone descending the stairs and rattling the doorknob. In the third-floor auditorium, they asked Billy if it was his favorite room and recorded an electronic voice phenomena reply.
“Clear as a bell, you hear a young boy say, ‘Yes, sir,’ ” Lawson told TCPalm in 2019.
Marsh Landing Restaurant in Fellsmere
Marsh Landing Restaurant, built in 1926 for Fellsmere Estates Corp., has housed Florida Crystal Sugar Co., the City Council and Police Department.
In 1995, Fran Adams bought it, restored its original features and, in 2002, opened the restaurant with daughter Susan, an Indian River County commissioner.
Staff have reported a woman in a white dress staring into the street. Fran Adams tried to talk to her as she floated across the room, but she stared straight ahead and disappeared. Customers have reported window blinds rolling up and down on their own.
Lawson deemed the ghost a “residual,” energy that plays on a loop without interaction.
The Driftwood Resort in Vero Beach
Eccentric Waldo Sexton, who died in 1967, haunts The Driftwood Resort, the Ocean Drive home he built and furnished with odd antiques in the 1930s.
Guests staying in suites that were part of the original house have heard strange noises coming from adjacent rooms. A security guard on late-night rounds reported feeling someone tap on his shoulder. Many people have reported seeing an older man — wearing a hat, suspenders and mischievous smile — standing outside the breezeway near the stairs to the beach. He disappears when approached, they said.
P.P. Cobb building in Fort Pierce
Sinnott reported being alone when someone called her name. Another time, she felt a hand on her arm. She said it felt like a friendly reassurance about her historical role.
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Historic Boston House in Fort Pierce
The Historic Boston House on Indian River Drive was called “Cresthaven” when built in 1909 by William T. Jones, a Flagler railroad engineer and the county’s third sheriff.
The ghost story of Aleaceon Perkins, who waits for the return of her husband and son lost at sea in the early 1900s, has been debunked by Main Street Fort Pierce, which organizes the annual Ghosts of Fort Pierce Past Historic Walking Tours downtown every October.
But a true tragedy occurred there in 1918 when 9-year-old William Fee died of a gunshot to the stomach. He had been playing with a loaded pistol with Jones’ son, Clifford.
Tenants of the building, once a law firm, have reported windows opening and doors unlocking on their own, sensing a strange presence, smelling perfume in the air, and things being moved around when no one is there.
Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce
Rupert Koblegard reportedly watches over the historic city-owned Sunrise Theatre he opened in 1923. Rumors of his haunting began when it closed in 1983.
People have reported opaque shapes in windows and knocking from within the walls. Construction workers renovating the building in 2006 reported strange noises and things being moved around.
Paranormal investigators have reported knocking sounds in the walls, doors opening and closing on their own and equipment batteries suddenly draining.
Old Fort Park in Fort Pierce
Old Fort Park on Indian River Drive contains an Ais burial mound just south of the original fort built in the late 1830s during the Second Seminole War.
Soldiers chose the spot for its vantage point and natural freshwater spring, but abandoned the fort four years later. None of it remains today.
Paranormal investigators have reported full-body apparitions slowly moving through the trees, white orbs in photos and videos, sounds in the darkness and equipment batteries draining. Visitors have claimed feeling something touching or scratching them.
The Devil’s Tree in Port St. Lucie
In the early 1990s, a priest reportedly exorcised The Devil’s Tree in today’s Oak Hammock Park, where Crosstown Parkway meets Interstate 95.
Kids likely started haunting rumors after two bodies were discovered there in 1977. Iowa teens Barbara Wilcox and Collette Goodenough went missing while hitchhiking to Florida in 1973. A hog hunter found their bones and teeth by the tree.
Local folklore holds that chainsaws and chopping tools won’t work around the tree. The park’s bathrooms are said to be haunted by the ghosts of the girls who died there. Visitors have reported a cold chill and slamming bathroom-stall doors.
The murder scene was similar to the shallow graves found four years earlier near Blind Creek Beach on Hutchinson Island, containing the mutilated and decapitated remains of Susan Place, 16, and Georgia Jessup, 17, both of Broward County.
Martin County sheriff’s deputy Gerard Schaefer was found guilty of killing them, and implicated in 30 other deaths. Before he could be executed, he was knifed to death in 1995 by a fellow inmate at the Florida State Prison near Starke.
The Mansion at Tuckahoe in Jensen Beach’s Indian Riverside Park
The Mansion at Tuckahoe was built in 1936 by Willaford and Anne Leach, heiress to the Coca-Cola fortune. That was after a 1923 fire destroyed the mansion Charles Racey built in 1891 atop a 60-foot-tall, 4,000-year-old Ais mound, which typically were topped with ceremonial houses for rituals and escaping floods.
Visitors have reported cold spots, soft piano music, a boy singing in a high-pitched voice, orbs and shadowy figures, especially in the auditorium.
When it was being used as a college campus, a professor working late reported seeing a man in the shadows at the end of a hallway, wearing a fedora and a long coat from the 1930s or ’40s. The man dissolved when the professor called out.
A volunteer, the last to leave for the day, reported seeing a tall, hazy figure with Ais attire and Native American features appear from behind the mound. It moved toward her, looked at her for a few moments, then disappeared.
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The Elliott Museum in Stuart
The Elliott Museum, which Harmon Elliott built on Hutchinson Island in 1961, was razed in 2011 to build today’s museum, but its history lingers.
Elliott, a wealthy man who obtained over 100 U.S. patents before his death in 1969, wintered in Stuart, where he wanted to display his inventions and antique cars.
When Robin Hicks-Connors became CEO in 2002, the staff told her about unusual happenings: noises, sightings, sudden temperature drops, car gallery doors opening and closing on their own and unexplained sensations, like someone following them. She herself sometimes felt a “friendly” presence while working in the upstairs office.
Visitors have reported an eerie feeling of being watched. On several occasions, as the museum was closing for the day, a little girl in a long white dress with blonde pigtails reportedly was seen in the hallways, but she disappeared as people approached.
A 2004 Florida Paranormal Research Foundation investigation deemed the incidents friendly “attachment hauntings,” in which a spirit imprints itself on an object.
Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge in Stuart
Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge on Hutchinson Island is said to be haunted by multiple spirits: the Ais; pirate Capt. Don Pedro Gibert; Susan Bessey, co-keeper of the house from 1890 to 1902; and the men who died in the nearby Georges Valentine shipwreck.
As Martin County’s oldest building, it housed shipwrecked passengers from 1876 to 1945, until the county bought it in the 1950s and turned it into a museum.
People have reported wailing voices; strange lights, especially when there’s a full moon; a black vessel drifting in the lagoon on dark nights with its gunports glowing red; and a woman’s face in the upstairs loft window, gazing longingly out to sea. On stormy nights, hazy white figures have been seen floating slowly along the beach.
Present-day house keepers have reported smelling hot beef stew, though the kitchen has been unusable since the 1940s, and seeing nonexistent shards of broken mirror in an upstairs bed. Visitors claimed to have sensed something sinister when entering that room, now off-limits to the public, and heard strange knocking from the attic.
Pirate’s Cove Resort & Marina in Port Salerno
Staff have reported strange late-night, after-closing experiences, including feeling they weren’t alone or being touched by invisible hands. One man said he was shoved so hard he almost fell. One couple said a man in old-fashioned clothes who walked past them on the grounds smiled, bowed and politely tipped his straw hat before vanishing.
Trapper Nelson’s in Hobe Sound
Jonathan Dickinson State Park is said to be haunted by Victor “Trapper Nelson” Nostokovich, a hunter, trapper and zoo founder found dead outside his cabin in 1968. The gunshot to his gut was ruled self-inflicted, but some believe he was murdered.
Many people have reported seeing and hearing him, feeling his presence on the dock and hearing heavy boots crunching through the trees. Two kayakers said a man waved to them from the dock, but no one was in the camp when they arrived.
In 1994, Cheryl Wells was in her first week of park ranger training when she heard him.
“If I weren’t dead, I’d be asking you out,” Wells reported he said. “He was flirting with me. I said, ‘Was Trapper a ladies’ man?’ And (the instructor) looked at me and said, ‘How did you know that?’ “
When she later saw a full-body apparition, she called in a psychic medium, who said Trapper Nelson was concerned about two burial grounds he wanted to keep safe.
Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Follow her on Twitter @TCPalmLaurie and Facebook @TCPalmLaurie. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for her What To Do in 772 weekly newsletter at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage.