With Halloween fast approaching, it’s not unusual for curiosity regarding the dark and macabre to arise. Although October festivities this year will be different thanks to Coronavirus, there’s no doubt that the ingenuity and perseverance of Floridians will ensure a memorable Halloween. In the great spirit and tradition of sharing ghost stories, let’s explore some of Palm Beach’s more sordid past.
- The Sounds of Seminoles Past
The shoreline of Palm Beach is said to be riddled with the ghosts of pirates, natives, and the drowned; but it wasn’t until a recording artist in the 90s captured evidence of spectral sounds that gave some substance to these ghosts. While out recording sounds of the ocean for a relaxation tape, he picked up sounds of hooting and hollering that he did not hear with his own ears. Upon heading to a local bar for a drink to calm his shattered nerves, he shared his recording with a bartender of Seminole descent who smiled and said those sounds were his people celebrating the Green Corn Festival.
Henry Flagler, the “father of Palm Beach,” built an elaborate, gilded mansion as a winter residence and wedding gift to his wife, Mary Kenan. Henry tragically passed away after falling down a flight of stairs, and his wife passed away a mere four years later. According to legend, their souls still wander the halls of the modern-day Flagler Museum, causing mischief like forcing doors to close, damaging pottery, and even harassing housekeepers.
The Lake Worth Playhouse was opened in 1924 by the Oakley brothers with a silent film debut beside a live orchestra. Quite a glamorous opening night in the Palm Beaches. The playhouse experienced a load of success in the beginning, but damage from a hurricane only four years later affected business. Once rebuilt, the brothers once again experienced financial hardships when the Great Depression began in the 30s. In 1931, Lucien Oakley committed suicide and his brother, Clarence, died of a heart attack a year to the day after his brother passed away. Today, they are said to roam the theater making sure business is running smoothly.
The infamous Riddle House was built in 1905 with leftover wood from one of Henry Flagler’s hotels. It served as a home for the local cemetery gatekeeper and a funeral parlor for some time. In the 1920s, the building was purchased by a Mr. Karl Riddle who gave the home its namesake. The Riddle House has garnered much fame and exposure by paranormal investigators worldwide. The building is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a man who hung himself in the attic to escape financial troubles. Today, the house is a Palm Beach legend, and they even offer ghost tours.
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