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Casablanca Inn -
Haunted Place: Casablanca Inn
24 Avenida Menendez
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Casablanca Inn Web Site
Casablanca Inn can be found on Avenida Menendez, right across the street from beautiful Mantanzas Bay, just north of the Bridge of Lions.
This Mediterranean revival 2 story inn and its Carriage House were built in 1914, and both have been restored to their former glory just recently, and renovated to serve the needs and desires of their guests. This lovely upscale inn is a truly beautifully redone 2 story building, with 10 suites, 2 rooms in the Main House, that can be found on both floors. All of the rooms that face the bay have large windows so that the view of the Mantanzas Bay and the St. Augustine Lighthouse can be enjoyed. The suites and rooms have all the bells and whistles, including a private outdoor porch or deck, as well as having antiques in rooms. The Coach House is directly behind the Main House, and has 8 beautiful rooms, each with their own private, covered patios. The third area is called the Secret Garden, located across the street, that has 3 suites that are pet friendly, have kitchenettes, and their own dining area.
For 96 years, The Casablanca Inn building has always been some sort of boarding house or inn. In its early years, it was called Mantanzas Hotel. When it changed hands around 1920, the widow who bought the property changed the name to Bayfront Boarding House. After a few years, she again renamed her establishment, changing it to the Casablanca Inn.
During the 1920s and 1930s, this owner and operator took great pride in running a clean, comfortable boarding house, offering excellent meals, and making the Casablanca a popular place to stay because of her warm hospitality; So popular that guests had to call beforehand and make reservations. Most of her guests were traveling salesmen, G men, and some local people as well, including a few children. In the 1920s, this lady began to have financial troubles. She came up with a bold plan to make more money. Even though alcohol was illegal, some of her guests still wanted it. And because her building was in full view of the sea, she could make some money helping rum runners.
Because she knew when the agents or g-men were coming to stay at her place, while they looked for booze smugglers and the like, she set up an arrangement with the rum runners, who made their profit by smuggling into St. Augustine their illegal cargo. When she knew that no agents were in town, she would swing her lantern from the top of her inn, on the house's widow's walk, so the smugglers would know that it was safe to come into port and dump off their black market liquor. After paying her handsomely, they would quickly leave. She arranged to have a smuggler be a guest at her inn, so he could sell the black market liquor to those of her guests who wanted to imbibe.
At one point in time, she was questioned by the g-men, but was deemed not a suspect. Fortunately, she wasn't arrested by agents, or killed by a rival gang, and lived very well the rest of her life, as she made a fortune. She died and was buried in Huguenot Cemetery.
Another slightly different story tells the tale of tragedy. It claims that the lady was a young widow, who came up with this plan, but that she waved the lantern when there were G-men in town.. She wound up falling in love with one of the smugglers, and was heart-broken when her love was killed in a big storm at sea, after she had waved the lantern to warn him.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
This lady, whether she was young or old, took great pride in running a boarding house that was popular with traveling people, and locals as well. Besides making a living pleasing people, and making many friends in her business, out of necessity and a sense of adventure, she found another way to make a living using this fabulous building; to not only pay her bills, but experience some excitement; flaunting law enforcement. Especially sweet was that she got away with it.
People who really enjoy their home, their work and special times in their lives, sometimes choose to stay in this world, not letting that fact that they are dead stand in the way of their memories; still doing what they loved to do while alive; perhaps helping, supervising the living.
( Brewery Art Center * Ernest lauderdale-ghosts-hauntings Home * St. Louis Cathedral Basilica * Roosevelt Hotel * Speed Museum )
Until the invention of inoculations/vaccinations and antibiotics, many children were victims of disease, when an out-break of some disease would sweep through town. Children from all generations have been victims of accidents, such as drowning, falling, being harmed in other ways that causes death. Sometimes spirits of children decide to stay where they had fun, and maybe don't know that they are dead.
( Bullock Hotel * Collingwood Art Center * Monteleone Hotel * New River Inn )
Entity of a woman who owned the inn: A gentle, benign soul, who is really pleased with the restoration of her building.
Fishermen at sea, people who are walking along the waterfront, and the guests staying in inns next to Casablanca Inn have all seen the lantern light swinging back and forth from the widow's walk on top of the inn, when no one living is up there.
Other stories; fact or fiction - that are on the Internet and in books; It is said that:
Staff and guests have heard the sound of light footfalls on the inn's floorboards throughout the inn.
Staff and guests have heard the sound of people talking, in places where there is no one living there. (Could be a residual haunting.)
Items are moved and found in odd places, or sometimes borrowed, but are always returned.
Entity of the woman: Staff and guests have CLAIMED to experience an unusual misty fog like female apparition, who appears in various locations on the inside of the inn, as well as the outside grounds.
One guest took a picture of herself in the mirror. When she got her pictures developed, she claims that there was a pleasant-looking transparent elderly lady standing beside her.
Sometimes a scent of oranges that is associated with her, can permeate the room for an instant.
It has been said that her unseen presence has been felt by some folks, and some people have thought to have experienced her gentle touch.
Entities of children -
Thought to have been heard by the living as they play around the inn.
A big "probably so", because of the volumes of personal experiences reported over the years. No official paranormal investigations have been made public, due to the fear of scaring away guests. I can see why -After putting time, money and effort into restoring this inn, the owners enjoy a healthy business by providing a wonderful, peaceful place to relax, and enjoy the amenities and the view. They haven't decided to fully come out of the paranormal closet, but they do admit that the lantern light does appear, as it has been a public occurrence for many years. They have made a deal with the local Ghost Tour operation, because of this well-known paranormal occurrence. They gently have let people know of their ghostly tale in a non-scary fashion, on their Ghostly Tales link, done in very good taste.
A TV crew did a story on the Casablanca Inn, interviewing the former owner about her experiences in the inn. There is a link to it on the inn's Ghostly Tales page.
Ghosts of Saint Augustine
by Dave Lapham
Pineapple Press, Inc.