When it comes to spirits in bright, sun-bleached Miami, you might think of margaritas, mojitos and caipirinhas. But there’s a different sort of spirit that haunts Miami more than a hangover might after drinking too many cocktails. While traditional American ghost stories are most often associated with the Wild West, old New England or the antebellum South, this lively urban area is full of legends about the restless deceased. Whether you prefer the conga, merengue, samba or calypso, let’s do the dance of the dead through 5 of Miami’s favorite supposedly haunted hot spots. For more spooky haunts near Miami, tune in Saturday, July 12, at 10|9c for an all-new season of The Dead Files.
A lavish castle-like hotel, the Biltmore opened in 1926. The golf resort attracted the likes of Babe Ruth, Judy Garland, Franklin D. Roosevelt and even Al Capone. During World War II, it was converted into a massive hospital until 1968. It was restored to its former glory in 1987.
Along with the specters of many veterans who died here — and a sad “lady in white” haunting the tower suites — the ghost of gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh is a favorite legend here. Murdered at the Biltmore, he likes to hang out on the 13th floor, being helpful to staff, playing with lights or puffing on his cigar.
Even before philanthropist Charles Deering built his mansion on the Biscayne Bay grounds in the 1920s, the property had notable visitors such as Henry Flagler. But, the lush environmental and archaeological preserve also contains a Native American burial mound.
Disturbing a tribal burial ground is in the first chapter of the textbook How to Get Haunted 101. Also, 5 Bahamian workers were killed in an explosion here in 1916, and there is a story of a drowned boy. As a result, full-body apparitions have supposedly been seen on the grounds, and numerous clear EVPs have been recorded.
Coconut Grove Cemetery/Charlotte Jane Memorial Park
The early 1900s cemetery, with above-ground graves, is the burial site for Miami’s early Bahamian immigrants.
Shadow figures and disembodied whispers have been reported here, but the cemetery is also haunted by the legacy of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Though director John Landis said the iconic “Thriller” music video was shot in East LA, the legend persists it was shot here, and that people saw it being filmed. Moreover, some say Jackson’s ghost has been spotted here.
A modern symbol of entertainment and grandeur for South Beach, the Art Deco theater opened in 1935 under the Paramount Pictures chain of cinemas.
Many of the stories here revolve around footsteps being heard behind the main stage, and a figure being seen in the same area. More interesting, are claims of a ghostly toy poodle.
Villa Paula Mansion
Built in 1925, Villa Paula was the first Cuban Consulate in Miami, and home to Senior Don Domingo Milord and his wife Paula. When she died following complications from a leg amputation, the home was taken over by other owners until it became a senior citizens home before it fell into disrepair. It was eventually bought and restored.
Known as the most haunted house in Miami, 5 ghosts are said to roam here, including Paula herself (along with a Thin Man in top hat, a large woman in a red dress, a crying woman and a young woman whose illegitimate baby was buried somewhere on the property). The smell of coffee and roses, courtesy Paula, might fill the house, and her spirit has been reported moving down the halls or closing doors. Knocks on the door and footsteps are heard, but the hauntings get violent as well. Supposedly, cats have been crushed in the iron gates, swinging closed on their own, and one ghostly grump trashed the kitchen in a temper tantrum.
– BY AARON SAGERS
Aaron Sagers is an entertainment writer, nerd culture expert and host/co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s Paranormal Paparazzi. He is also founder of the entertainment site ParanormalPopCulture.com. He can be reached on Twitter @AaronSagers.