Top 10 Haunted Places in Tampa
The city of Tampa, Florida is a beautiful beachside center of business and culture with a fascinating, sometimes frightening history. Tampa offers a wide variety of recreation from white sand beaches to downtown bars that the dead find just as irresistible as the living. In this article, we’ll count down Tampa’s 10 most haunted, from beer-obsessed bar ghosts to phantom Greyhound buses.
10. Florida Brewery Company
First up on our list is the former Florida Brewery Company, said to be haunted by a drunken Cuban ghost. On the brewery’s first night in business, the owners made the fatal mistake of serving free beer, and a nasty fight broke out between a Cuban man and another patron. When the dust settled, the Cuban man was dead, but the beer never left his hand.
Though the building operates as a law firm today, the ghost of the Cuban man remains, drunkenly mumbling in Spanish and sipping from his ghostly beer. Visitors claim they can still hear his footsteps stumbling in the hall. The man may have lost his life, but he has yet to let go of his beer.
9. Don CeSar Hotel
Our next story is a testament to true love persevering beyond the grave. At the turn of the century, a Londoner named Thomas Rowe met Lucinda, a beautiful Spanish woman. The two fell in love on the beaches of a beautiful pink hotel and vowed to marry and return for their honeymoon. But Lucinda’s mother did not approve of the relationship and forced her daughter to break up with Thomas. The two never saw one another again. At least, not in this life.
Thomas got on a ship to America and opened the Don CeSar Hotel in 1928. The hotel is an architectural doppelganger to the resort where he fell in love with Lucinda, right down to its pink color. Ever since Thomas’s death in 1940, visitors of the Don CeSar report seeing the ghostly figures of an elderly couple walking hand in hand along the beach, leaving no footprints behind them in the sand.
8. The Old Tampa Book Company
Coming in at number 8 on our list is the Old Tampa Book Company, rumored to be inhabited by murderous ghosts. In the 1980s, the building operated as a tailor shop. But one day, the owners mysteriously abandoned it with all of their equipment still inside. New tenets moved in following this strange departure, but they claim the old ones never really left.
The Old Tampa Book Company held onto some of the previous furniture to cut down on costs, only to find that the chairs would move across the floor all on their own. Weirder still, when the alarm system went off one night, the owners arrived to find nothing out of place except a pair of scissors lying in a pool of blood. The case remains unsolved, but many suspect a perpetrator of paranormal origins. The Old Tampa Book Company has since closed its doors, but passerby claim to see the apparition of a tall man in a top hat, watching them from the shop windows.
7. Plant Hall at the University of Tampa
Students and staff of the University of Tampa claim there’s much more to fear here than just deadlines. Many are convinced that the ghost of Henry Plant haunts Plant Hall.
The building was originally constructed by railway mogul Henry Plant as the Tampa Bay Hotel, and housed famous guests such as Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt.
Students describe Plant’s ghost as a tall figure dressed in a brown suit, with long white hair and glowing red eyes. Others know him more ominously as simply “The Brown Man.” The word on campus is that the ghost will rush into the face of anyone who acknowledges his presence, then disappear. Most faculty and staff say it’s best to just avoid eye contact.
6. Sulpher Springs Water Tower
Legends of pirates and buried treasure have always shrouded the city of Tampa, and the Sulpher Springs Water Tower inspires most of them. Before its construction in 1927, the tower served as a lighthouse, guiding ships to Tampa’s shores. Locals believe one of these ships still floats aimlessly at sea, searching for a treasure that was never recovered. Reports detail an old, wind-torn ship with black flags, which often vanish as quickly as it appears.
Pirates aren’t the only ghosts to look out for at Sulpher Springs. Once the tallest structure in Tampa, the water tower became a jumping-off point for unlucky investors in the stock market crash of 1929. Visitors of the area report seeing men in Depression-era suits walking up the beach, their clothes dripping wet. Perhaps their ghosts are doomed to jump from the tower for eternity, or until they luck out and find buried treasure.
5. Fort Brooke Municipal Parking Garage
A municipal parking garage might be the last place you’d expect to encounter an apparition of any kind, but according to local legend, the Fort Brooke garage is home to an army of the dead.
The garage’s haunted history dates back to 1823 when Col. George Mercer Brooke and his troops used the area as a base during the Seminole Indian Wars. The scrimmage ended in a bloody massacre with over a hundred casualties.
In 1980, workers for the City of Tampa constructing the garage unearthed a mass grave of Indian and American soldiers. The men from both sides were given a proper burial, but it seems they may have left something behind. Patrons of the Fort Brooke garage report hearing the beat of Indian war drums and disembodied chanting, and spotting strange, shadowy figures lurking in the dark.
4. Tampa Theatre
No top 10 haunted list would be complete without a theatre or two, and the ultra-creepy Tampa Theatre is no exception, coming in at number 3 on our list. Locals believe this beloved Tampa landmark houses a whole cast of undead characters.
The first is the chain-smoking spirit of Foster “Fink” Finley, a projectionist who died inside the theatre in 1965. Staff report cigarette smoke hanging in the air inside the projection room, and patrons seated at the back often complain of the acrid smell of cigarettes, though the theatre no longer allows smoking.
The next is the spirit of organist Rosa Rio. Before films had sound, they were sometimes accompanied by live instruments. Rosa Rio worked at the theatre as an organ player and lived to be 107 years old. But ever since her death in 2010, staff report hearing her play the organ after hours.
Last of the Tampa Theatre ghosts is the mysterious fedora-wearing man. His ghost is known to materialize in seat 308, forever sharply dressed for a night at the movies.
3. Cuban Club
Next on our list is the notorious Cuban Club. Built in 1917, the historic club features a ballroom, courtyard, theatre, and its fair share of permanent guests. The ghosts are believed to be the spirits of two men who died in the club in the 1920s.
The first is an actor who committed suicide on stage, and the second is a man who met his untimely death after a heated argument in the board room. The staff of the Cuban Club report running into mysterious men dressed in 1920s attire, witnessing the elevator go up and down unmanned, and hearing the piano play by itself.
2. Ybor City
No tour of Tampa terrors would be complete without the notoriously haunted Ybor City. The modern shops and bars lining its streets bring a contemporary feel to this historic Tampa neighborhood, originally founded in the 1880s. But this now charming neighborhood hides a dark history.
When Ybor City was young, hundreds of Italian and Cuban immigrants made their home here and sought work in the city’s cigar factories. But many of them lost their lives in devastating fires which ravaged the poorly constructed wooden buildings. The worse of these occurred on March 1st, 1908, and decimated more than 17 city blocks. To this day, shop owners in the area still hear the eerie, disembodied laughter of children who perished in the fire.
But the most haunted building of all is undoubtedly the former Don Vicente Hotel. Along with renting rooms to Tampa tourists, the hotel served as a medical clinic in the late 1890s. The hotel’s basement became home to a mad doctor who performed horrific experiments and burned the bodies of his victims in the incinerator. Workers at the building still report the stench of burning flesh drifting from the basement.
1. Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Although the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is among the youngest on the list, it’s likely the most haunted of all. The current bridge was completed in 1987 and stretches 5.5 miles across Tampa Bay. Thousands of people cross it every day, yet few know its terrifying history.
In 1980, the bridge preceding the current structure was hit by a cargo ship, causing 35 people to plunge to their deaths. Visitors of the area report sensing a strange, unseasonable chill before catching a glimpse of a ghostly Greyhound bus.
In addition, over 200 people have leaped from the bridge to their death, and those in passing cars have witnessed strange, unexplainable lights emanating from the water beneath.
Lastly, locals report seeing the apparition of a female hitchhiker. The woman is dressed in white and asks passing cars to give her a ride to the other side. However, she never makes it, disappearing just before the car reaches the end of the bridge.