As many of my friends and readers know, I spent the summer and fall of 2014 along the Gulf Coast. Not only did I find the weather beautiful, but I also found rich history and folklore. During that time, I was able to visit some pretty interesting places in cities like Naples, Florida; Pensacola, Florida; Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are some of my favorites.
Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum
2081 Radford Blvd. Pensacola, FL 32508
www.pensacolalighthouse.org (850) 393-1561
Pensacola Bay has long been a strategic harbor, and even today, it is used for military purposes. The Pensacola Lighthouse sits on the grounds of the Naval Air Station, home of the Blue Angels. The first lighthouse was built in 1824/25 for $6,000 on the south entrance of the bay. It was 40-feet tall. The current lighthouse, located at the north side of the bay, was built in 1858 and lit in 1859. It is made of brick and stands 150-feet tall. In 1861, an artillery duel between Union and Confederate forces lightly damaged the tower. Today, some visitors claim to hear footsteps, heavy breathing, and their name being whispered. Others have had objects “thrown” at them in the keeper’s quarters. Some have even claimed a dark red stain appeared on the floor as the lighthouse was being renovated. [Read More…]
Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library
2244 Beach Blvd. Biloxi, MS 39531
www.beauvoir.org (228) 388-4400
Otherwise known as Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home has an interesting history. It was built in 1852 by a wealthy plantation owner named James Brown. Jefferson Davis did not reside in the house until 1877, twelve years before he died. His daughter Winnie continued to live there until her death in 1898. The Jefferson Davis Soldiers Home opened on the grounds in 1903 and operated until the 1950s. It was home to around 1,800 Civil War veterans and widows of Confederate soldiers. Roughly 780 of them are buried in the cemetery located on the property. Several visitors have reported encountering someone who they assume is an actor playing Jefferson Davis in the gardens. Later, when they compliment the staff on how realistic his portrayal was, the staff deny having a Jefferson Davis re-enactor on site. [Read More…]
Richards DAR House Museum
256 N Joachim St. Mobile, AL 36603
richardsdarhouse.com (251) 208-7320
Built in 1860 in ornate Italianate style for steamboat captain Charles G. Richards and his wife, Caroline Elizabeth Steele, the Richards DAR House is located in the De Tonti Square Historic District at 256 N. Joachim Street in Mobile, Alabama. It is a beautiful antebellum home, complete with a marble and granite veranda surrounded by a cast iron railing featuring ornate figures representing the four seasons. Most of the ghostly tales center on the Richards family. Charles and Caroline had twelve children, four of whom died young (two were newborns, one was five years old, and another 10 years old). Caroline herself died in 1867, shortly after giving birth to their twelfth child. One of the bedrooms, which was actually a guest room built when the Ideal Cement Company owned the home, has been decorated as a child’s bedroom. Many unusual things have been encountered there. Marbles laid out on the bed are said to appear in different configurations every morning. [Read More…]
214 Royal St. New Orleans, LA 70130
hotelmonteleone.com (504) 523-3341
Hotel Monteleone is such a fixture of cultural life in New Orleans, the city’s fabled French Quarter is said to begin in its lobby. Antonio Monteleone, a Sicilian immigrant, opened this beautiful and historic Beaux-Arts style hotel at 214 Royal Street in 1886. Easily recognizable, it is the only high-rise building in New Orleans. It contains 600 guest rooms, two restaurants, a heated rooftop pool, and a rotating bar called the Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge. Over the years, the hotel has developed a reputation for being haunted by as many as a dozen different specters. The ghost of a young boy named Maurice allegedly haunts the 14th Floor (actually the 13th—the hotel skipped the number 13 when they numbered the floors). According to legend, he was the son of Josephine and Jacques Begere, who were in town to visit the French Opera House on Bourbon Street. The Begeres left their son in the care of a nanny while they attended the opera. On their return, their horses became spooked and threw Jacques from their buggy, killing him. Soon after, his wife died of a broken heart. Hotel guests and staff believe young Maurice still wanders the hotel, searching for his parents in the afterlife. [Read More…]
Koreshan State Historic Site
3800 Corkscrew Rd. Estero, FL 33928
At the turn of the last century, deep in the pine flat woods of southeast Florida near the small village of Estero, a group of religious believers sought to build a new Jerusalem on the Gulf Coast. These followers of Dr. Cyrus Teed, called Koreshans, believed the earth and universe were contained within a concave sphere. At its peak, their New Jerusalem was home to 250 people. Today, it is the Koreshan State Historic Site. Some visitors report eerie encounters with the vestigial remains of the so-called Koreshan Unity. Even without these stories, it is one of the most interesting ghost towns in Florida. [Read More…]
Marco Island Cemetery
Bald Eagle Dr. and Elkcam Circle.
Marco Island, FL 34145
Once part of the remote interior of Marco Island, Florida, Marco Island Cemetery stands as a testament to the resiliency of the island’s inhabitants. In the early 1970s, Old Marco Cemetery (as Marco Island Cemetery was called at the time) was all but abandoned, left to nature and the social outcasts who came there to drink and race dirt bikes and motorcycles along its trails. Then, in 1973, a tragedy occurred that triggered its renewal. Shortly after noon on Wednesday, April 11, 1973, a man named Paul Smith drove onto a deserted road about 100 feet south of Marco Island Cemetery and discovered the bodies of Linda Walters, 16, and Lisa Nankevill, 15. Both had been shot through the temple. [Read More…]
I hope you get a chance to visit some of these places this summer, but there are many more to choose from! Of course, you can’t miss the great seafood, casinos, and beaches as well.