Sarasota, FL is best known for the white sand beaches of Siesta Key and some of the greatest waterfront dining. Sarasota is also rumored to be a spiritual vortex full of ghostly stories and curious places. If you’re looking for something a bit more spooky here are 5 haunted places in Sarasota you should check out.
The Gator Club
In downtown, Sarasota is the century-old building on the corner of Main Street and South Lemon Avenue, home of The Gator Club. The Gator Club offers live music downstairs and pool tables and a lounge upstairs. On Friday and Saturday, the upstairs lounge features a DJ and dancing. Along with the ghost of a former woman of the night.
The Gator Club is a Sarasota landmark. One with a fascinating, scandalous and eerie past. Bootleg whiskey during Prohibition, illegal gambling, and an upstairs brothel. Despite its shady past, The Gator Club started as a wholesome grocery store, built by former Englewood postmaster William Worth Jr.
Many people have claimed to have had ghostly encounters during their visit. Including one of the bartenders, Johnny who as seen the ghost of the former owner’s wife Mrs. Worth many times, Even saying she walked right through him. If you do visit The Gator Club while in Sarasota don’t be rude to the female workers as you might find yourself having a ghostly encounter with the former brothel worker.
Just a few miles north of Sarasota, Coquina Beach is said to be haunted by a man in dark clothes who walks from the picnic area, once a popular resort, to the shoreline before diapering. Reports say that you can see this man in broad daylight as well as taking a nightly stroll to the water.
Directions from Sarasota: Go over the Ringling Bridge off of downtown Sarasota onto St. Armand’s Key and follow Rt. 789 around St. Armand’s Circle to the north and on to Longboat Key. Stay on the Gulf of Mexico Drive north on Longboat Key until you cross the bridge to Anna Maria Island. Coquina Beach will be on the left.
Rosemary Cemetery is located in the northwest corner on the original plat of the Town of Sarasota. The City of Sarasota has in years since expanded to include a much larger area and today the cemetery is located in the midtown area. The cemetery originally measured 300 feet by 300 feet. Today the cemetery with altered boundaries extends 255.79 x 300 feet and has approximately 740 gravesites with 380 recorded burials dating from 1887 to the present.
Rosemary Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Sarasota’s early founders, developers, builders, and other important families. For example, the graves of John Hamilton Gillespie (considered the “Father of Sarasota”), Owen Burns (builder and developer), Harry Lee Higel (merchant and Sarasota mayor), Carrie Abbe (first postmistress), and many others.
Paranormal experts suggest that some resident spirits are not so lucky to rest in peace like Gillespie: the cemetery is also home to the restless ghosts of the Green family, who were victims of a grisly family massacre at the hand of their husband and father, Elaf Green, in 1887. Mediums who visit the cemetery report that Mrs. Green and her three children are keen to communicate their unrest from beyond their graves as they roam the Rosemary after dusk.
John and Mabel Ringling Estate
John Ringling was one of the five brothers who owned and operated the circus rightly called “The Greatest Show on Earth.” His success with the circus and entrepreneurial skills helped to make him, in the Roaring Twenties, one of the richest men in America, with an estimated worth of nearly $200 million.
In 1911, John and his wife, Mable, purchased 20 acres of waterfront property in Sarasota. In 1912, they began spending winters in what was then still a small town. They became active in the community and purchased more and more real estate, at one time owning more than 25 percent of Sarasota’s total area. John and Mable made their final resting places at their beloved Sarasota estate, and are buried alongside Mable’s rose garden on the Ringling grounds.
Caretakers and visitors to the mansion have made numerous reports over the years of encountering John and Mable in the mansion. Furthermore, mediums report hundreds of ghost encounters in the mansion which is no surprise, as Mable and John were avid entertainers and often threw ritzy parties for their friends during the Roaring Twenties.
On the grounds are two museum visitors and guards also suggest that the ghost of John visits the art galleries on occasion to admire his beloved collection.
Historic Spanish Point
Historic Spanish Point, just south of Sarasota, is home to several sites of interest. The first, and central fixture is the Native American burial ground that dates back several thousands of years. Over 400 individual graves were discovered in the mound, and at the top layer was found an alligator that was buried in a ceremonial manner. This location is the only instance of a ritualistic burial for an alligator, and it seems that was the last creature to be buried at the site. Many ghost hunting groups claim the location to be a hotspot for activity.
Not far away from the mound sits a small church house as well as a little graveyard. Some of the earliest pioneer settlers of the area are buried at this site, and it features several gravestones without markings. During our last visit, we were told that the apparition of a young boy can be seen sometimes playing beneath the church pews. Others have been seen wandering around the small building and its graveyard. A few more homes on the property are also said to house hauntings. Soft crying can be heard coming from the empty upstairs rooms. More recently, reports of a medium-sized, chupacabra-like Cryptid have been seen on the grounds as well.
This location used to be quite welcoming to investigators and ghost hunting groups. A monthly nighttime ghost tour used to gather a good amount of visitors, and some groups were given permission to conduct more in-depth overnight investigations. Unfortunately, the site has been purchased by a larger museum group inside the city and is no longer welcoming to nighttime investigators.