Old Haunts

 

A downtown walking tour is a spirited exploration of Orlando’s more lurid history. 




The brothel, funeral home and meatpacking company are long gone, but ghosts of their ghastly pasts still haunt downtown.

At least that’s what you’ll hear on an Orlando Ghost Tour, which since 2001 has hunted paranormal spirits in historic areas of downtown and, on a separate tour, in Greenwood Cemetery off Anderson Street to the east.

Tour guides Rob Davis and Carla Hicks style themselves after the intrepid folks on the SCI FI Channel’s Ghost Hunters.

“Everything we’re going to talk about tonight is backed by physics,” Davis announces as our tour begins outside a Church Street Station restaurant. 

So begin the lurid tales of Church Street, where meatpackers and women of the night lived out seldom-told stories of early 20th century Orlando.

Hicks points to a restaurant on Church Street, saying it was once the site of an “unofficial brothel” where men conceived and later murdered illegitimate children.  It’s a disturbing story to be sure, but its fear factor doesn’t match the heebie jeebies one gets at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. 

Heading toward Pine Street, we pass vacant storefronts with paper in the windows. It feels a little ghostly.

We stop at Pine and Magnolia. “This is Orlando’s most haunted area,” Hicks explains, chalking up the creepiness to intersecting electromagnetic fields and a nearby Seminole burial ground where a sports bar now sits.

As though on cue, church bells start ringing, creating an eerie soundtrack. So far, the tour is long on history and short on ghost sightings. 

Heading to the old Orange County Courthouse, now the Orange County Regional History Center, we’re armed with electromagnetic field sensors to help find spirits.

In the courtroom, Hicks sets a teddy bear on the witness stand. As I walk around, my sensor blips a few times—probably because my thumb slipped.

We move to the grand jury room, where Davis sits down and plays with stuffed animals. He hopes to attract the attention of a ghost named Emily.

“If you don’t get anything else out of this tour, at least you get to see a fat man playing with teddy bears,” Davis says.

Some guests have smelled a judge’s tobacco here; others have taken pictures with orbs in them.

But no such luck tonight.

On the way out, our cable-operated elevator stops at the first floor, then returns to the third floor by itself.

A paranormal elevator? If so, it’s the most ghostly thing I’ve seen all night.

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

 

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

2014 Finest Doctors

Two national surveys name the Best and Top Doctors in Orlando, as recommended by their peers.

Orlando's Top Chiropractors of 2014

More than 75 Central Florida chiropractors make our inaugural list.

Fall Getaways

Fall is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Real Estate's Hot 100

Whether you’re trying to buy or sell real estate, getting the best deal means finding an agent who possesses savvy and know-how and gets results. This list showcases some Central Florida agents who have demonstrated those skills.

Spotlight on Plastic Surgeons 2014

This special advertising section highlights the accomplishments of plastic surgeons, who tell about their commitment to helping people look their best.

Orlando's Best Lawyers of 2014

Get informed with our annual list of more than 400 Orlando-area attorneys, compiled by Best Lawyers in America. The annual selection features lawyers in 78 areas of practice.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Second Life

Recycle your old containers and use them as unique garden planters.

Universal Appeal

Universal Orlando's holiday celebration features a Macy's parade, Mannheim Steamroller and The Grinch.

Memorable Moments-Drs. Sabogal, Parbhu and Woo

We asked several doctors who appear on the Best and Top Doctors lists to share a memorable day or experience in their medical careers.

Memorable Moments-Drs. Nagasubramanian, Cotter and Iobst

We asked several doctors who appear on the Best and Top Doctors lists to share a memorable day or experience in their medical careers.