Sarasota Ghosts

July 9, 2000 – Sarasota

This was led by my dear Sarasotian friend, Tayrn. 

The first area we went to was a building on the USF, Sarasota campus.  An eccentric woman lived, and died, in the building, which was originally a house. 

The building was left to USF, Sarasota campus and was converted into offices.  However, the ghost still stakes a claim to her former home.  This sounds rather odd, but, there is a photocopy machine that sits near a series of french doors.  This machine has a habit of running at night, when there is no one there.  The guards have noted that the light of the photocopier can be seen at night, even after the machine has been turned off and unplugged by the staff! 

When I went to take the photographs of this machine, we were locked out of the building.  USF Sarasota was closed for the period of weeks between summer and fall sessions.  However, the photocopy machine was in easy access by walking around to the back of the building.  As per usual, I spoke out loud asking the spirit if it wanted to be photographed, and if so, this was its chance to appear.  (I also stated I meant no harm and wished it well!  Hey, the ghost may be dead, but that is no reason to be rude!)

I remember that the first several shots went OK, but the last one or two shots I started to feel a bit of a coolness to the air.  Now, for you who don’t know where Sarasota is, it is south of St. Petersburg, Florida.  I live in St. Pete and it takes me about 40 minutes to get to this area of Sarasota.  Being that it is Florida and that it is HOT, and this day had 100% humidity, coolness was unusual.  I was also outside when taking the photos.  I thought to myself that perhaps I was feeling some of the a/c from the building sort of radiating out from the windows, but now I am not sure.  When I got the photos developed, I noted that nothing showed up in them….until I got to the second to last snapshot.  There I see a very light image of what looks to me to be an old woman looking out at me.  You see my reflection to the right of her as I hold the camera.  I did not have the flash on, nor did it appear in the reflection of my taking the picture.  See if you, too, see her.

Sarasota Reports:  Brandy’s

Sarasota Ghost Hunt
Brandy’s report
For the June 9th investigations 

—- Bayshore Rd., Sarasota

Back bedroom:  two male deaths in same room.  1 death is that of a previous owner, the other is the husband/father of current resident and her daughter.

The first death took place in 1971.  Mr. And Mrs. C. were the primary owners.  

In 1991 (20 years later) LS also died in the home.  The date of the ghost hunt was the day before the yearly death masses that family celebrates for LS.  LS’s birthday was 6/3.  This year he would be 99 years old.

Mother talks of drafts and cold spots.  Daughter describes room 4 days after the death of being very “Heavy”, and “Filled with Presence”.  

LS died in a hospice bed, which he rec’d the day before he died.  Mom and daughter did most of work.

Original furniture is still in the room, including the bed he was in for the rest of the time, and the original dresser.  

LS had great fame as one of the first surf shop owners in the US.
Room still contains his portrait.  

Feb. 24 was the 10-year anniversary of his death.

No readings appeared on EMF.  Lee felt a presence and jumped at one pointit was leaving the room, he thought.  It was also correlated with a small jump on the EMF readout (on a 1-3 reading, from a 1.5 to a 2.0).

None of us had any real sense of a ghost, other than the one incident.  Lee also thought he sensed a shadow in the living room.  Also sensed a possible attachment of father to daughter.  Slight temperature fluctuations in the living room.  

Daughter told us of an unusual story involving her father: Her father’s first wife, J., left him to marry a S. American diplomat and moved to a hostile in S. America.  Daughter, during her travels, went to S. America where she came across a hostile.  She sensed she knew it, and knew exactly what room she wanted to be in.  Even though she had never been there, she was able to sense the layout of the area.  Daughter later found out her middle name was taken from the first name of her father’s first wife (J.).  Jane died in 1948, daughter was born in 1952.  Daughter wonders if these are memories that have somehow been passed down to her, past life memories, or if it is coincidence. 

(Address and location withheld)

In 1993 the owner of the house died at the age of 90.  She was eccentric, and enjoyed buying things.  Her whole house with items (junk) she had bought.  Evidentially, it was so bad she had walkways in the house; every other space was used to store things she had bought.

Son inherited house, and tried to clean it out.  In 1994, he committed suicide there, by gunshot, at approx. the age of 60.

We were unable to get into the house, but external readings did not show any EMF fluctuations, nor did photography reveal anything.  The house has been vacant for some time, now.


Mrs. Caples house/USF Sarasota

This is my second time to the Caples house; the first time I thought I did get a ghost pic there.  CLICK HERE for my first Sarasota visit, report, and ghost picture from July 2000….

Mrs. Caples was the cousin of John and Charles Ringling.  She was very eccentric.  She kept tortoises, peacocks, and goats at her home.  Our tour guide knew Caples, and remembered her as nice, but quite eclectic.

The Ringlings had bought 100,000 acres of land when Sarasota still belonged to Manatee County.  6 years after they bought land it became Sarasota, in 1921.

The home of Mrs. Caples was later bought by the University of South Florida and converted into offices.  It allegedly has a copy machine that runs at night, even when the electricity is off and the machine is unplugged.

When investigating this house, we had an unusual reaction to the EMF meters.  The stairwell near the copier had one step that had a negative EMF reading (my ELF meter blinked at startonly on that one step).  The West’s meter, on the 0-3 scale, would not come above a 1.  Normally, when there is no EMF it reads 1.5 During this investigation, it read at -2.

Nothing really showed up in the photographs or film.
Ca’ d Zan/John Ringling house

This house has a strange history.  The Ringlings were reputedly into black magic as there are many demon-like images and astrological signs all around the house.  Personally, I disagree with this assumption. I think that it was the end of the age of spiritualism.  There was enough influence for the Ringlings to include these images in their homes, perhaps to keep OUT negative spirits, not to call them forth.  In addition, the house had beautiful neo-Roman/classical designs through out. LOVELY!!!! We were unable to get into the house.  It is being refurbished, and has been for the past 2 years.  IT will be reopened again soon.  It is this house that seems to have a lot of rumored ghost hauntings.

There was an odd condensation on the original glass (Venetian glass, from the 19-teens).

Temperature was 75 degrees; moisture was on the outside.  Unfortunately, we discovered an a/c vent that ran beneath the area, which probably caused the condensation. However, the shape of the condensation was unusual, and looked vaguely human in shape.  But, that could be the whole inkblot idea that human minds will create images out of unformed masses (like clouds, ink blots, etc.).

Grave area:  The graves of Ida, Ringling (1874-1950),. John Ringling (1866-1936) and Mable Burton Ringling (875-1929) were near the Charles and John Ringling homes.  Originally, the Ringling family wanted to be buried in a vault inside one of the homes, but the laws in the state of FL forbade that.  They were buried in WI, but later the coffins were dug up and moved to the current resting place in 1991.  Possible ghost image captured here, though it could be a trick of shadow and light.  No EMF readings.
Charles Ringling home

The residence of the quieter of the two brothers, this house also features a black marble room.  It is lined in black marble and has some sort of alter (reputed) in the room.  The alter consists of a bowl that does not drain, created out of black marble, surrounded by a larger black marble base.  More reminiscent of a water fountain to me. 

USF also bought and reconstructed the house to be part of the USF Sarasota campus in 1965.  The house has become Cook Hall.  

The house had some construction added on after the original building was built.  In 1918-1920, servants quarters were added to the house by the Ringlings.

We had some unusual occurrences in this area.  The doorway beside the Black Marble Room had high EMF readings.  There were no electrical panels around the area, and the spot with EMF seemed to be exactly opposite the black fountain.  My ELF meter read caution.

The second floor had some unusual EMF near a classroom that was formerly the children’s room.  

There was an original wall safe, completely untouched by construction, but there were no readings.

It is a beautiful campus!

Heading back past the black marble room, which we could NOT get into as it was locked, we again picked up the high EMF readings. Unsure of sources though this room alone merits a return visit to see if we can get inside of it.
Ringling Circus Museum

It was reported to me that there is paranormal activity in the Circus Museum.
Kara, a waitress at the Banyan CafĂ©, reported that she knew of no paranormal activity in the area, the “Only thing I can tell you is that Tuesday was a full moon” was her comment on the paranormal there.

Local USF guard also said that he had heard of more haunted activity “at the house”, then at the Ringling Circus Museum.

One guard, who wishes to remain anon., works at the Circus Museum.  He said that he had had an unusual sensation on a staircase.  He felt he was being followed, and very closely, yet when he went to check behind him there was no one there.  He did say that 2 young men had hidden in a balcony once, and waited until the Museum closed to come out.  They played a trick on one of their friends.  Defiantly NOT a paranormal manifestation!

The museum’s set up is ripe for an area to play with the mind.  It has black mannequins with no faces (made of cloth) which are posted and wear the circus outfits.  These “giant faceless dolls” are posed all over the museum, for the most part standing above the patron.  I must admit, I was getting very chilled!

I had a light-headed sensation, along with a hostile feeling not originating with me, and a negative flicker on my EMF meter in front of two costumes.  I “Sensed” that the feelings may have come from a mannequin of a woman’s costume with a long floor-length gown.  The costume was very old, dating back to before/around the turn of the century.

A reading was also picked up around the cannon, though it was mild.  Lee sensed a ghost there.

Brandy thought she sensed a cold spot by an old chair, but no EMF to back that up, nor did anything definite manifest in photos.  

Karen was drawn to a car #71, an old circus cart.  She felt to the point of weeping, great human sadness.  No EMF manifested from the cart, but later investigation (2nd time we looked at it) we found a fallen placard that discussed how the cart was involved in a fire in the early part of the century.  It did not list deaths, but did say that the fire was in Chicago (? verify), and that the cart itself had been damaged. 

There was additional negative EMF readings for me around the #9 wagon, blacksmiths/welding/horses. Nothing subsequent in photos.

Email, Sandy Bard, 7/3/01
Karen started crying every time she was near/saw wagon #71 and maybe I got
something. I was just watching This Week in History on the History Channel
and they covered a fire that happened in Hartford, CT on July 6, 1944 where
157 people were killed after the big top tent caught fire at approx. 2:30
pm. The panther act had just finished and the spotlight swung up to The
Flying Welindas (sp?) who were on the high wire in the pyramid formation.
Someone noticed a single flame above the seating area on the west end of the
tent and the band immediatley began to play the “Stars and Stripes”, an
emergency signal that something was wrong. The performers started moving the
animals out of the tent to safety as the fire quickly spread and the
audience panicked, a stampede to the exits ensued. Witnesses say that the
fire chased the crowd from the west to the east end of the tent. Back in
those days the tents were made water proof with being soaked in a combo of
gasoline and paraffin wax, a mix that had been handed down from tent master
to tent master for years. Also, when the tent had gone up the carnies had
not put in the fire extinguishers. Approx. 10-15 minutes after the fire
started the roof collapsed killing some of those still inside. The band
continued to play until minutes before the tent collapsed, trying to keep
people calm. The band made it out safely and immediately started playing

         From the archival footage they showed, some of the circus wagons
were near the tent though I didn’t see any thing that looked like #71. They
never said if any of the circus people/animals were killed in the blaze and
there were numerous bodies that were never identified, the most famous being
Little Miss 1565. The cause of the fire was never determined and execs of
Ringling Brothers were prosecuted for the fire/deaths. From that time on new
fire proof tents became law and started being used, as well as other safety

       I don’t know if there’s any connection but I remembered the guard telling
us it had been involved in a fire. What do you guys think?


The second haunted area was in a place owned by the renown Ringling family.  John Ringling, one of two brothers who headed up the Ringling household, had a famed “Black Marble Room”.  The ghost of John Ringling is thought to be there.  Tayrn told me that a friend of hers had seen the ghost, that of an old man, staring at her father when the pair had toured the room.  USF New College, a branch of USF, must know of the the room’s reputation, for they had it partitioned off from view via both the window, and they had physically locked the building.  I took a parting photo, but nothing manifested.  

The Ringlings were a strange family.  It is rumored they participated in the black occult, and indeed the main mansion has many masonic and seemingly demonic images decorating it.  The black marble room was also thought to be a place of sacrifice, perhaps of blood sacrifice.  How much of this is true, and how much is urban legend I cannot tell you for certain.

Though nothing appeared in my photo, I will post it nonetheless since it holds lore of ghostly manifestations!

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