Saint Francis Inn
Haunted Dwelling — Saint Francis Inn
279 Saint George Street
Saint Augustine, Florida 32084
Web Link * (904) 824-6068
The Saint Francis Inn can be found on the corner of St. Francis and St. George Street, about a block from Saint Augustine's "Oldest House Museum". It is within walking distance to the waterfront, historical downtown Saint Augustine, and many fine places to eat.
The Saint Francis Inn is a charming, old world structure, that has kept its character, despite the enlargements, renovations and modernizations, as it has been a home/boarding house/apartments/inn for more than 300 years!
Tom and I really enjoyed staying here. Southern hospitality is front and center at this lovely inn. As guests come into the front gate, there is a delightful garden courtyard to the left, complete with a coy fish pond! As the guest enters the foyer/registration desk area, the parlor is directly ahead. To the left, the hallway leads past afternoon snacks and iced tea/drinks table, to the large, sunny breakfast room, with windows offering a view. In the evening, up to 9:00 p.m., dessert is offered as well. In the morning, we enjoyed one of the most complete breakfasts we have experienced in staying in bed and breakfast establishments. A buffet-style spread covers a full variety of food.
We stayed in a second floor suite, that was lovely, with a comfortable bed, space to spread out and a variety of antiques. The second floor has its own little sitting area as well.
The original structure was a two story home with an attic, built in 1791, by Spaniard Gaspar Garcia, who was awarded a plot of land from the royalty of Spain. After several turnover changes of owners, the home was bought in 1838 by a retired British Colonel of the Marines, Col. Thomas Dummett. Since 1825, Dummett, a native of Barbados, and family had been living on the family's sugar plantation, in Tomoka, Florida. The plantation became an unsafe place to live, when the Seminole Indian up-rising began in 1835, so he moved his family into Saint Augustine. He decided to buy a second home in Saint Augustine in 1838, instead of just renting a home there; providing a second home for his family to own. The slaves' quarters were located in a small cottage behind the house. Though the Dummett family was a large clan, Out of Col. and Mrs. Dummett's 11 children, only 3 made it to their middle years: Douglas, Anna and Mary.
In 1845, the house passed on to the Dummett daughters: Anna, Sarah, and Elizabeth. The enterprising Anna promptly opened The Dummett Boardinghouse. As she out-lived all of her sisters, Anna became the guardian of all of her sisters' children. She raised the 10 children, her nieces and nephews, and never got married, staying single.
Ten years later, in 1855, partial ownership of the house was passed to Anna's brother-in-law, her sister Elizabeth's husband, General Hardee. As General Hardee was sent to West Point to be the Commandant of Cadets, Anna continued to run the newly named Dummett-Hardee Boardinghouse, for her brother-in-law, which turned out to be a happy arrangement for all.
Anna sold it to John Wilson in 1888, who had plans for improvement for this property. Soon after buying this property, the attic was reconstructed into a third floor by the new owner, John Wilson, who also put on a mansard roof. Wilson built several other homes on the property, that are now used as Saint Francis Inn guest rooms/cottages, offering an extension of the inn.
During the first 20 years of the 20th century, this fine structure was called "The Teahan House," "The Hudson House," and "The Valencia Annex"; (named after the Valencia Hotel that once stood on the site of the current Saint Francis Inn parking lot, located across the street from the current inn). At one point, the structure was turned into units and was named a variety of names, as the ownership changed: "The Amity Apartments," "The Salt Air Apartments," "The Palms," and "The Graham House". The structure was changed into an inn, in 1948, christened "The St. Francis Inn."
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
Sometime during the time that General Hardee co-owned the structure, probably in the period between 1855-1860, some of the descendants of the Dummett slaves from Barbados lived in the cottage behind the inn, so they could help Anna with the chores that needed to be done, in the course of running the boardinghouse. A young, beautiful house slave, Lily, was on the housekeeping staff. General Hardee's nephew, who was a young, handsome soldier, came to stay as a boarder at Anna's Dummett-Hardee Boardinghouse. He may have been stationed at Fort Marion; (formerly Castillo De San Marcos), as soldiers traditionally lived in the town when off-duty.
At first sight, this young man fell in love with Lily, who returned his love whole-heartedly. While their love was passionate and often consummated in one of the empty rooms, their future together was dim, because a relationship between a white gentleman of good breeding and a black slave was forbidden in high society.
The inevitable happened. General Hardee, while home on a break, caught the pair in bed. He forbade their relationship. After one last round of lovemaking; (probably in the attic), the young man killed himself, by either hanging himself in the attic, or throwing himself out the attic window, as he couldn't live without the love of his life, Lily.
Several stories have been told about what happened to Lily. One story says that though thoroughly heart-broken, Lily lived on, but forever carried a torch for her lover. Another story says that soon after, Lily discovered that she was pregnant, and she killed herself.
In other stories found on HauntedHouses.com, couples separated by life's tragedies, often seek each other in their after-life, or one of the pair haunts the place where they were separated, pining away for the lost love of this world.
(Chapel of the Cross * Anchuca * Union Hotel * Octagon Mansion * German Castle)
One of the rooms found on the third floor, 3A is named Lily's Room, in honor of this resident ghost. This space was once part of the attic, probably the spot where she last saw her lover alive. Room 3A, Lily's room is described as " a cozy sanctuary, featuring a queen bed, in-room refrigerator, stained glass window and a hammered tin ceiling, floor to ceiling windows, and a view of the courtyard and historic St. George Street." While a favorite suite for many of the inn's guests, it is also very pleasing to the entities who dwell here.
The Young Soldier entity:
He has found some peace at the Saint Francis Inn, and some pasttimes to keep himself amused. He is friendly toward the living, and is up for a practical joke on occasion. Though he gravitates toward room 3A, he has been active all over the inn.
A male guest awoke one morning to find himself stuck under a bed. He needed help in getting out.
Another male guest, while in bed with his sleeping wife for the night, felt a presence trying to enter his consciousness. After a walk, he came back, and it happened again. After awhile he shook it off, went for another walk, and was finally able to go to sleep.
This entity is still inspired by beauty. When a young, honeymoon couple was spending the night, probably in a third floor suite, the bride was awakened by a loving, passionate kiss. Imagine her surprise when she realized that her new husband was still sound asleep next to her!
It is thought by some that this entity is the one who likes to watch TV. The tv sets in the inn have been known to turn themselves on, and channels are changed by unseen hands.
A desk clerk was working at the reception desk, when she felt a presence. Looking up, she saw a young, handsome soldier, dressed in military uniform, leaning against the entrance to the parlor. He was looking at her, and smiling warmly.
The entity Lily:
Her presence has been known for years.
As she was in her life here, Lily is a hard-working, conscientious worker, who stays in her place, on the third floor, and uses the servant's staircase.
People have seen her apparition, dressed in white, going about her chores, gliding down the third floor hallway. Her hand has been seen holding onto the banister of the servants' staircase, as her unseen presence travels down this back staircase.
In the middle of the night, guests have awakened to see her diligently scrubbing the bathroom and the tub in Room 3A.
On her off time from her perceived duties, her personality comes out, and expresses her emotions. Room 3A is where she stays most of the time. When told to stop what she is doing by the living, she does.
One guest awoke to the sound of a huge thump. She got up and investigated, and found that the contents of her make-up bag and purse had been dumped on the floor. Lily was curious.
Lily likes to play with the electrical gadgets provided in her room. The lights, the coffee pot, the radio all seem to have a mind of their own.
Other guests have heard a woman moaning, either in sorrow or in the throws of passion. Sometimes a man's whispering is heard also.
Left Field Paranormal Studies and Investigations caught two other entities on video, who are attached to this building in some way. Both don't seem to notice the living, and just go about their business.
An entity, described as a tall, slender Hispanic male, with wiry hair, tied back in a pony tail, was wearing a white silky shirt and trousers. He was walking around one of the suites.
Another entity, described as an older white male, wearing a three cornered brown hat, was also walking around a suite.
A big YES INDEED is in order.
Not only are there many reported personal experiences by staff and guests, but paranormal investigators and psychics have also gathered evidence of these two entities, and the two other entities who stay here.
Ghosts of St. Augustine, by Dave Lapham, Pineapple Press, 1997
Haunt Hunter's Guide to Florida, by Joyce Elson Moore, Pineapple Press, 1998.
Ghost Stories of Florida, by Dan Asfar, Lone Pine Publishing International, 2005.
Haunted Inns of the SouthEast, by Sheila Turnage, John F. Blair Publishing, 2001.