Suntan Art Center (Recheck)

July 31, 2016 – St. Pete Beach

Sketch of “The Hostess” by Lisa.  This entity expressed regret that she could not leave the building; she’d like to visit the Don Cesar because of the parties and dancing areas.  Lisa sensed her looking out this window to the hotel.

In one area of haunting, the IR camera completely quit recording properly and the battery dropped in power:  

In a prior investigation (before SPPI), Brandy Stark left her digital recorder running in the empty, locked Craftsmen Gallery.  It was about 7 PM.  In the middle of the 1.5 hour recording was an odd bird noise.  The noise is not recognized as part of the art, by the members or staff of the Suntan, and Brandy has not heard the sound in there before.  It could be an oddity — a noise that sounds like a bird, or a rare bird so close to the doors of the Craftsmen Gallery that it could be heard inside.  Yet, in the 4 years Brandy has volunteered at the SAC,  she has no memory of ever hearing a bird while inside the closed building.  If anyone recognizes the sound and can tell us more about it (is it a bird call?  If so, what bird?)  we can do more research and determine its source.

Bird EVP
An EVP from a 2011 session.  “I’m Dead”.

Suntan Art Center recheck

Lisa, Brandy and pugs (Odysseus and Achilles)

Notes and Overall observation:

Lisa: Felt energy in the hallway toward the glass studio. While in there, I felt almost rushed from behind, like being pushed forward or told to get out of the way.  

Upstairs: Once hitting the top step, panning over to the door to the Mary Nabors’ room, the camera’s picture was interrupted – a series of lines and interference (reference video here). Sound was unaffected. Had to go downstairs and restart the camera. The entire entire section in the upstairs area is missing.  

In the Mary Nabors’ room: I felt a female presence that did say that she was Mary, and that the room was named after her. She was hiding in the corner wanting us to go about our business. She was dressed in 50s attire (see drawing). When asked if she knew Thomas Rowe, she giggled and brushed off the question.  

Upstairs loft: Older man was still there. He was talking to himself by the fireplace. He was wearing white, or off-white shirt, suspenders, blue jeans, and clean shoes. He would not respond to anything. 

Craftsmen Gallery: Just a lot of energy moving around, but from the living walking through so much.

Brandy: I had to observe the pugs. They seemed to hold no fear of the center. They do not like the stairs, which surprised me as have done them before. However, they did travel in the elevator, a first for them. I thought was something exceptional, but they did not go down the loft stairs, either. They, apparently, do not like stairs.
I did have chills in the Mary Nabors room when trying to talk to her. I also had them in the Craftsmen Gallery. However, we did see the vent was above us….the a/c appears to be off in the center, but maybe there was an airflow going in there.

We did try the paranormal puck. It registered very high EMF swings when we first got here. The puck word bank had this:

hung shape factors not especially adultery cathy purgatory seen edge bad care .
wrench .
catch traffic factors hurry dirt & sacrifice appear underline faster chloride .
pluto projection boots catch thirst scrape sorry how shape .
products branches pack law year space underline difficult located dwindle scale plants Tesla bible twelve mustard pride score climb drop coffin especially have tiny dwindle away hear script hockey duty ? 
desk alone scrape turn highway southern especially probably joined stabbed shift clean Tesla have anti knot murder cousin & thirst bible sorry faster decend human almost lock traffic 2 poor scrape exercise wave especially edge summer .
dwindle shift music cleansing highway violent William .
dawn care green malicious knot etch score scrape bed murder ride script human hockey especially knit faster products drop care language turning newer desk rolled bad plants hockey right happy soak behind .
quickly beat .
anything .
vector fade Harry hole among face tied hey ambition timid beat mark coast what church drawing justice empath Harry write thank among grow ambition sex oh deep marker sure seek glove timid anything tied unlock pounds Robert test .
subtract .
rapture find thank finger movement bird among write remote quickly dresser mammoth dr. 
anything .
atom toward blow happy yours hole .
fade bird Harry subtract .
position coast appetite finger blow told Robert france .
fade else glove hole bird Harry yours .
blow he’s france position anything am told write glove bird

NOTE: The oddest part is that the puck came up with the word “purgatory” in the first room we were in. Lisa and I were discussing different religions of people that she knew – Methodist, Baptist and Catholic. I made a comment that Catholics had Purgatory to explain ghosts….the Puck came up with the word Purgatory at about the same time. 

Recheck: Mary Nabors room….(video repeat upstairs, EVP session recorded in glass studio.

Mary Nabors: One website showed a Mary Nabors born 1908 and dying in 1958 but could not get info without paying for it. Not sure if this is her.
Research: Administration with the Don Cesar in the 1920s. Running man is also the finance man. He is agitated and constantly working. Passed away unexpectedly and while he was working. He may have been working on a project or a deadline when he died. He crowds people, makes them uncomfortable. Wants folks out of the way. Knew Mary and Thomas Rowe. Irritated with questions. 

Knows Mary Nabors, the two don’t get along. He is not allowed upstairs because she doesn’t like him. Khaki pants, a white button up shirt, no tie. Disheveled. Reminds me of someone who was upset when the stock market crashed. Darker hair, slicked back. He’s young. He’s mid-30s. Pen or pencil at his ear, always holding papers, slouching down and mumbling. He is staying in the corner, but won’t walk past the pugs. He thinks they are cute, but won’t walk past the pugs (who are sleeping). Initials are J and S?

He knew the architect and called him “Carl” (Carlton Beard). He had to pay the contractor. He noted that people stayed at the hotel while it was being built – people who worked at the construction site. Do the names Jim and Scott relate to the hotel? To the entity?  

Chills were happening. Temperature when we first started completely recording random temperatures. He stayed in the corner.  

Any message? Any information? “No, go ask my wife.” Who is your wife? I hear the “J” again. Possibly June.  
Lisa reports nausea. Maybe an ulcer? 

Mary Nabors has been in the background. She’s watching and making sure he’s being nice. That’s why she doesn’t let him upstairs. He’s a party pooper. Stay down here, don’t ruin anything.   


The research element is interesting with this one.  I have recently acquired two books on the history of the Don Cesar.  These books open a couple of possibilities:

The Running Man/Banker:  The description of Rowe’s personality was one of energy, but also one who worked up to the last minute.  Even the opening of the Don Ce-Sar (then; the name changed to Don Cesar in the 1970s)was somewhat hectic with last minute changes to the floors, drying paint, and other such things.  Thomas Rowe also had issues with finances several times with the hotel. 

Rowe and finances:  When Rowe left Virginia and moved to Florida, he had $21,000 in his pocket.  He speculated on real estate, buying and selling properties first at Walter Fuller’s real estate office.  He would buy land and sell it at a profit.  At the end of the men’s working relationship, Fuller gave a check totally $1,050,000 to Thomas Rowe. All of that money had been earned in just under 6 years.

When he was building the Don Ce-Sar, he anticipated a cost of about $450.000.   As the hotel enlarged and the architecture grew more monumental, the total cost soared to $1,250,000.  To pay for this, Rowe sold 900 acres of land that he held and gained another $900,000 in cash.  The land boom was over, and Rowe’s remaining funds were tied up in the Don Ce-Sar and the surrounding area that he had already bought. Rowe borrowed money from Warren Webster, a New Jersey industrialist, to furnish the hotel, plus he took out a mortgage on the property. He also floated a $500,000 bond to finish the hotel.

Additionally, by opening day, only 150 of the 300 rooms were scheduled for completion.  This didn’t stop a week long series of events to celebrate the opening of the hotel.  

When the Great Depression hit, however, things quickly went south.  Rowe defected on the mortgage, though Warren Webster and Erle Askew convinced Judge Frank Hobson to have Rowe made the Don’s receiver.  H e could keep it open and try to work off the debt.  In 1930, he did just that, eventually banking an earning of $84,000 (post expenses) in the Central Bank.  Then the bank failed, and Rowe lost his fortune again.  A contract with the Yankees ultimately saved the hotel, though Rowe cut prices.

In 1934, he gain faced financial issues and told his staff that he couldn’t pay them; he cut their salaries in half in January.  Once, again, his fortunes rebounded and he earned enough to not only cover the bills but to pay his workers their full salaries in back pay.

He had an untimely heart attack and died on May 5, 1940. He attempted to will the hotel to his staff but a nurse would not witness his signature on the new will.  When he passed, the hotel went to his estranged wife (who lived separately from him in a hotel in St.Petersburg.  She is painted as both an overwhelmed widow and an angry estranged wife by resources).  The hotel was subsequently sold by her to the armed forces in World War II.

​A second possibility for the Running Man/Banker:  After the hotel closed and was nearly slated to be torn down, William Bowman Junior stepped up to revitalize and restore the Don in 1972.  In 1975, Bowman accepted the hotel’s admittance into the Registry of Historic American Buildings (the first for Florida’s west coast).  The market, however, had dropped out the year before, which, when coupled with the gas shortage, left the hotel struggling.  Though he had invested his entire personal fortune of $2 million dollars, he borrowed an additional $700,000 through a bank loan.  The loan was not forgiven, and he spent years paying back the money he owed, despite the fact that Connecticut General Insurance took the keys to the property.  

Possibilities for “The Hostess”:

Jean Renwick, Thomas Rowe’s girl Friday.  She is described by author June Hurley Young as “Everywhere at once, she paid Carlton Beard [the architect and contractor], mimeographed menues, answered letters and even sang at evening musicals.  She opened employment applications….” (The Don Ce-Sar Story, 14 – 15).

One prior investigation, I asked if she was Rowe’s girl Friday (the EMF meter spiked).  I also asked if she was his girlfriend (and it spiked again).  This may not mean anything more than they had a close work relationship.  However, it is known that Rowe’s estranged wife did live in St. Petersburg.

Jean Ott and Lucille Wilson are also mentioned as attending the Don’s reopening; they were Thomas Rowe’s office workers.

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