June 17, 2007 – Brooksville
Former residence, now business/museum
The news of the Heritage Museum ghost tours came to us through an article published in the St. Petersburg Times The newspaper described a very haunted, very historic museum in a semi-rural part of west central Florida called Brooksville. Our northern county resident member called ahead and booked the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg for a tour. We had a 2 month waiting list as the Museum’s reputation made national publication.
The day finally arrived. Five SPIRITS of St. Petersburg members met for dinner, then alighted shortly before dark at the location. . The musuem is actually inside a beautiful old home called the May-Stringer mansion. Built in the mid-1800s, it comes complete with the standard Florida wrap-around porch surrounded by a canopy of oak trees. A young John May, builder of the home, was just 23 when he settled there with his wife and infant daughter. Unfortunantly, he died a short time after the birth of his second child; May was only 24. He is the first of many residents who haunt the home. In fact, the Museum has a scrap book of images taken at the property and believe that May manifested as a full-bodied apparition and a shadow figure in several photographs.
We met our tour guide, Bonnie. She is a delightful frank woman who tells things as she sees them, including stories of phenomena she has witnessed in the house. She reported watching items moving, hearing singing and footsteps, and even senses the presence of May, himself. She openly talks of run-ins with individuals who have told her that she has a connection to the house associated with a past life. WIth or without a prior existence in the home, Bonnie is impressive with how very in tuned she is with her surroundings; she seems to have a stories about every nook and cranny within this old homestead.
Since the tours are relgated to 8 people, the SPIRITS members were pleasantly surprised to find that our tour-mates were members of the New Port Richie ghost group (we have a review of their tours also listed under the “tours” section of our website). Though the event was initially scheduled for 8 p.m., during the summer season things start a little bit later in order to allow for darkness to settle. Each member was given a battery operated “candle” to light their way thorugh the night. Hand-held equipment in hand, we wove our way through the dark Victorian corridors to meet our spectral hosts.
Each room has someone new to “talk” to. There is a war room containing uniforms of American soldiers, apparently one of which has brought the spirit of its initial owner. The kitchen has had reports of fantastic aromas, the attic a tempermental actor who arrived when his wooden trunk was donated to the museum. There is an room remodeled to resemble an old fashioned school that holds a lonely man, allegedly jilted by his fiance. The master bedroom has a cradle containing a baby doll that is rocked by a mysterious ghostly child. There are images with nebulous figures looking out at the photographer, who swears that no one was there at the time the picure was snapped.
The tour is highly recommended for paranormal groups; after the walk through, the group is allowed to divide into smaller sections to go back to areas of interest for the second hour. A representative of the museum travels with each group, but does not interfere with what is found. To see the SPIRITS results, see our images below.
For anyone who wants to go on a tour, the instructions are to call ahead and reserve. Only 8 people a night can come on a ghost tour and these specific tours are only offered on Friday and Saturday nights. Tours start after dark and last approximately two hours. The cost is $20 per person for the tour; it is well worth the price. All money earned goes towards maintaining this fantastic place.
Brandy: My only sensations were by the attic area where I felt someone “blow” or touch my neck. It was \very subtle. I also had the impression that our soldier friend was going to be quiet that night.
Brandy’s images: digital. When we first arrived, I took a couple of pictures while we were waiting. I got this double set of orbs, which moves down the hallway, then vanishes. (Note: it is part of this camera to produce “flat” orbs. I have NO idea why).
The conditions were different for us. We had another ghost team there and the two teams switched areas of investigation. During the actual investigation, I really did not get a lot. Nothing on EMF or EVP. Strange window image posted is, in my opinion, probably naturally explained as an odd reflection. We did focus on the school room as that was said to be an area of heavy activity. The attic was creepy, but it could have been because it was so crowded. However, the staff did have an excellent picture of some of the images taken by prior teams. One included what looked like a man made out of energy — almost a shadow figure — walking on the ramparts. I’m not sure if the image is a fluke (ink blot; the image was enlarged) or if this was an actual anomaly caught directly on camera. Otherwise, the history was excellent to learn and the items within — from Victorian dolls to antique furniture — was amazing to behold. Florida lacks the history of the North and I think that this is one of the few houses that shows that Florida did have residents here before 1950!