It’s the Halloween season, and that means that everybody’s looking for a good scare – or at least a mildly spooky time. Sure, you can go to haunted houses and get that adrenaline spike through jump-scares, creepy clowns, chainsaw murderers and bloody ghosts, but why not take it up a notch? Tallahassee has plenty of haunted houses that spring up every October, but it also holds its own, real ghost stories to tell. If you are looking for a chance to be a real amateur ghost hunter – or just want some stories to scare your friends – here are five infamously haunted places around Tallahassee.
1. Velda Mound Park
Velda Mound Park is an archaeological site that can be found in northern Tallahassee. It was first occupied by people of the Fort Walton culture in the late prehistoric period. The site is now owned by the State of Florida and has been turned into a park. Located in the Arbor Hill neighborhood, the park holds tales of ghostly Native Americans sitting by a fire at night, and a white, glowing wolf prowling the premises. Locals swear they hear it howling every night – what could it be calling to?
2. Cawthon Hall
That’s right, FSU’s very own Cawthon Hall. The story goes that one day in the 1960s, a girl was sunbathing on the roof of the dorm when a bolt of lightning struck her, killing her instantly. Ever since then, there have been numerous reports of strange noises, toilets flushing on their own, and the feeling of another presence in the room. One girl who resided in the room that the deceased girl once lived in claimed to hear loud banging noises on her door, seeing nobody outside when she looked. Another boy who lived there claimed to see an old lady standing behind him in the mirror one night. Supposedly, that old woman could be the ghost of an old caretaker who used to look over the girls in the dormitory back when it used to be an all-girls school. Cawthon Hall isn’t the only hall with ghost stories attached to it, but that’s a tale for another time.
3. Sunland Hospital
Demolished in 2006, Sunland Hospital was a notorious eyesore in Tallahassee. Despite the fact that it no longer stands, it is still infamous for its plethora of spooky tales and it was a popular spot for amateur ghost hunters. Our very own abandoned children’s mental hospital, Sunland (nicknamed “Sunnyland”) became a kind of rite of passage for adrenaline-junkie teenagers. Many nearby residents claimed to hear ghostly screams into the night, but the question remains: Were those ghosts, or were they just the partying teens, homeless people and vandals that could be found in the abandoned building every night?
4. Leon County Jail
The current Leon County Jail was built in the 1990s, but it is in the same spot as the previous one that was known to house Ted Bundy for a while. There were many reports of off happenings, including the sensation of being pushed, feeling someone pass by on the stairs, mysterious shadows, the feeling of not being alone, pounding on the walls and an extremely heavy and locked cell door opening on its own. Inside the facility, officers and medical staff both claim to have seen the ghost of a woman in period clothing roaming the halls at night, crying.
5. Calvin Phillips Mausoleum
Calvin Phillips, an architect from the early 20thcentury, built the first mausoleum in Oakland Cemetery. Little is known about the man’s life, which is possibly what keeps his memory alive, however, one legend claims that Phillips was able to predict the time of his own death. Upon the completion of his mausoleum, the man crawled inside, locked the door behind him, laid down in the casket and died. His undertaker, Mr. Culley, had been contacted and came within an hour to find Phillips dead. After calling the authorities, it was determined beyond doubt that this was a natural death. To add to the strangeness of this building, in 2000, Phillips’ skull was stolen from the mausoleum. The plate metal door is now bolted closed and the skull was never located. Many believe Phillips himself comes out of his casket at night and walks around, claiming they often hear footsteps inside the mausoleum. Some claim to see an apparition sitting on a mourning chair.
There’s another story of a man with a cane who keeps asking visitors for the time, and one person claimed to see an old man perched on top of the mausoleum. There is an abundance of ghost stories attached to this place, and it is claimed to be one of the most haunted graveyards in Florida, second only to St. Paul’s graveyard in Key West.