You may not think that Gainesville is a hotbed of ghostly activity. In fact, there are many locations on the UF campus and throughout town that report of odd, unusual, and supernatural events.
Here at VW of Gainesville, your hometown Gainesville VW dealership, we love a good ghost story. So, in observance of Halloween 2015 in Gainesville and the 20th anniversary of Ghostbusters starring Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis, we offer the following list of the 10 most haunted places in Gainesville.
We do this as a public service. Investigate these allegedly haunted locales at your own risk; especially on Halloween night. You never know what ghostly apparition you might bump into.
And, unfortunately, the remake of the original Ghostbusters movie starring Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Wig, Melissa McCarthy, and Bill Murray (with a rumored cameo by Dan Aykroyd who co-wrote the screenplay) won’t be released until next year. So don’t expect those folks to rescue you if you run into a ghost or two.
Sweetwater Branch Inn
The quaint and historic Victorian Sweetwater Branch Inn, located just a stone’s throw from the UF campus, is rumored to be the site of some unusual happenings. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, guests of the circa 1885 inn on University Avenue report strange noises in the attic, as well as a “heavy feeling.” On occasion, a bureau door will open on its own.
Norman Hall, University of Florida
Built in 1932 and originally known as P.K. Yonge Laboratory School, Norman Hall houses the College of Education. Some say that several children lost their lives in an elevator accident many years ago. People report that they can hear the children’s laughing spirits frolicking at night on the third floor.
UF Beaty Towers Residence Hall
Beaty Towers is a student residential high-rise located across the street from the Broward Recreational Center on the UF campus. A girl allegedly jumped the building in the 1960s, but there is no record that this tragic event ever occurred. Nevertheless, students still report paranormal activity that could be associated with this incident. Some say they encountered the ghostly figure of a young woman roaming the halls. Strange sound and moving objects add to the legend. Tom Petty, who was at UF at the time, was said to have written his hit “American Girl” while staying at Beaty Towers.
Purple Porpoise/Gator City Grille
The original Purple Porpoise shut down in 2002, becoming the current Gator City Grille. Some people claim that a female student was the victim of a brutal murder in the 1960s and that a spirit of evil intent has actually accosted women who try to use the upstairs bathroom. However, the new owners have not reported any supernatural activity at the restaurant. After all, it might scare away business.
Thomas Hall At The Univ. Of Florida
This residence hall was constructed in 1906 and is one of the oldest buildings on the UF campus. It was named for Mayor Reuben Thomas who was instrumental in getting the University to locate its campus in Gainesville. The building has a capacity of 170 students. Students say that they hear strange sounds coming from the radiators even during the summer months. They claim that an old caretaker haunts the building to this day.
Steak And Shake
Some contend that several people were murdered in the walk-in freezer at the popular eatery on SW 13th St. While this incident has never been proven, some employees to this day won’t go near the freezer, even in broad daylight.
Evergreen And Pine Grove Cemeteries
You would expect a cemetery to be a great place to spot paranormal activity, and these two adjacent cemeteries don’t disappoint. The Evergreen Cemetery was built in 1856. The first person buried there was the infant daughter of James and Elizabeth Hall Thomas. Eight months later, Elizabeth died at the age of 40. Some brave souls have been known to camp out at night in hopes of seeing ghostly apparitions.
13th Street Wal-Mart
It may be funny to think that a big-box store could be haunted, but that’s just the case with this recently closed Wal-Mart. Some say that a female employee haunts certain areas of the store and is especially active in the early morning. Perhaps she’s still waiting to clock out and go home. Ghost hunter Brandy Stark (no relation to the Starks of Game of Thrones fame) investigated these claims and came up empty-handed.
Mt. Pleasant Cemetery
The Mt. Pleasant Cemetery was developed in 1883 by the Mt. Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church for African Americans as well as church members. Paranormal investigator Brandy Stark also investigated this site. She noted that the back of the cemetery was overgrown and neglected. Her EMF (electromagnetic field meter) did register some “spikes” in some areas of the cemetery. However, some others reported seeing mysterious orbs floating among the gravestones.
The restaurant was a former recording studio and then a Goodwill store. Local legend says that someone died at the Goodwill store many years ago, and that person’s spirit still haunts the restaurant to this day. People claim to hear knocking sounds, see shadows, and hear a female’s voice. Our intrepid paranormal investigator Brandy Stark also investigated this haunted Gainesville location. Brandy interviewed the store manager, who said that she experienced a shadowy presence a couple of weeks prior to Brandy’s arrival. Brandy attempted to contact the spirit with mixed results.
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Photo credits: www.hauntedplaces.org