Is The House Haunted? 

Welcome back to this crazy story that we somehow made come true in our lives. If you recall we left off having bit the bullet and bought the house. 

The banks then proceeded to laugh at us when we told them what we were doing. The city of Gainesville bailed us out with a temporary loan and that’s where the “fun” really begins…yes these are the ghost stories. Since the city was not used to loaning money for constructions projects, the draw system was a bit unusual. Basically they would not give us any money until they saw something accomplished. Enter Cindy’s mom (Beth). She was our temporary bank. She would give us money to work with, the city inspectors would come in and see progress, they would give us money and we would give money back to Beth…until the next time. It was a vicious cycle.

We finished off a bedroom inside the gutted attic and lived on the 3rd floor of the main house during this time (and have yet to leave it 26 years later). The rest of the attic was where we would store our purchases for the Inn. 

One day I was up in the attic when I heard a voice say, “I like your taste in books”. I looked down at the book I had dug out of a box and the title was “A Scarlett Letter”. I threw the book back in the box and ran downstairs. Joe was just walking up the stairs at the time and saw the look on my face. I had that whole fish out of water experience going on but when he got me calmed down a bit I was able to explain to him what had just happened to me in the Attic. Joe, the engineer, very calmly told me that he too felt something going on in the house. GREAT—just GREAT. We have a @#$^&$ haunted house. And not even with a cool ghost who could be fun like Casper, but one who just wanted to sit around and read a wordy book about a loose woman. I was terrified and would not go anywhere in the house alone. 

Shortly after I was asleep one night and had a dream. I was in the tower part of the house and a woman was standing there. I asked her name and we had a complete conversation. I woke up with a start and kept repeating her name over and over and then fell back asleep. When I woke up in the morning I had forgotten her name but remembered it was an odd first name and her last name was 2 syllables.

GREAT—just GREAT. We have a @#$^&$ haunted house.

Since we were restoring a historic building we discovered we were entitled to historic tax credits. We hired local historian Melanie Barr to do a house history and apply for tax credits. As we were reading through the history I remembered my dream. The original owners were Dudley and MELINZA WILLLIAMS. Melinza Williams was the name from my dream. As soon as I heard her name, it all came back to me. I could actually describe the person I saw in my dream. 

A few weeks later, one of the college kids who had lived in the house stopped by to check on our progress. During his visit he asked if we ever heard things that went bump in the night. I asked him what he was talking about. He told me a story about a woman he saw going up to the third floor one day. She turned around and nodded to him but kept going up the stairs. She had her hair tied in a bun and it was gray. She had on a black mid calf dress with old lady shoes. She also had a string of pearls around her neck. He had just described the lady who was in my dream. 

Over the next few months other people would ask me if I had noticed the woman who wandered around at all hours. One of my painters saw her at 4:00AM walking down the stairs. The odd thing about seeing her is it did not seem unusual at the time to see an older woman walking around. It was hours or days later that the person who saw her would suddenly have a “what the heck was that” moment.

During the frenzy of getting the Inn open, we pretty much just accepted her presence until about a month after we started having guests. Joe and I both realized that we had not felt, heard or had any run in’s with her. Our theory is that when we started tearing the walls down, she got concerned. After she realized that we were actually saving the house, she felt she could leave the house in our hands and we would take care of it for her. 

Inspectors, you have to love them because it’s illegal to lock them up in the freezer.

Next up: Inspectors, you have to love them because it’s illegal to lock them up in the freezer. We were almost thrown out of our living space by an inspector. We have a handicap accessible bathroom door….on our third floor. The fire escape that almost wrapped around the house and more funny stories.

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A Happy Accident

One of the best things we did as Innkeepers was get our beer and wine license, although it happened by a happy accident. And by accident, I mean we were unknowingly breaking the law.

One random day, two people showed up on our doorstep with guns and badges. However they weren’t here to arrest us or strip for us; they were here because they understood we were serving wine. I told them that I serve wine to anyone including friends and family of my guests and that it was not a part of their room cost.  Obviously that was not the right answer and soon thereafter I found myself with a beer and wine license.  In hindsight, they did me a favor because a world of wholesale wine has been dropped in my lap and those of you who know me realize that makes me very happy.

About 3 months after we had our beer and wine license, Joe and I were in St. Augustine for the day and Blair, my innkeeper, was minding the Inn.  The Alcohol inspector showed up and asked where we were storing our beer and wine.  Blair took them to the cabinet where we had it all stashed.  Unfortunately we also had various bottles of liquor in the cabinet.  We don’t drink much liquor but sometimes guest will buy it for themselves and then just leave it when they head home. I don’t want to waste what they spent money on!  Again, those of you who know me know I would never throw out a bottle of liquor.  Hence all the random bottles that the inspector saw.  She told Blair that I could be fined $1,000 a bottle.  Blair immediately went into the laundry room, grabbed a laundry basket and started putting all the liquor bottles in the basket and then in front of the inspector, put it all in the back of her car.  She called me and asked me what I wanted her to do with all the liquor.  I told her to take it home with her since I really didn’t want it anyhow.  Blair happened to be heading to a Super Bowl party that weekend so it was a win-win.  I didn’t get fined and Blair was the most popular girl at the party….

I feel so relieve that we have inspectors looking out for all of us.  We are all so much safer….

Guest I have known and loved…ish

The first time I realized I was about to embark on a journey of “special” people was the first year we were open.  It was a football weekend, about 5 months after we had opened.  We only had 6 rooms and I realized I was having problems remembering everyone.  I did notice one older couple who, after I checked them in, went out to their car and came back in with a “I’m staying for a week Colman Cooler”.  That should have been my first clue that it was going to be a long weekend.  The next morning, as I was “fluffing” the guests rooms I noticed the folks who brought in the Cooler had 5 empty champagne bottles lined up against the wall.  Then as I was picking up various items off a side table I noticed a bag of oregano.  The bag was open and of course what else does one do when presented with a open baggie?  You smell it….nope, that is not oregano.  I yelled for Joe and explained, with much animation, my discovery.  He told me to try to replace everything back to the way I had found it and leave the room since it was obvious they did not expect us to come in.  I went about my business and as I was standing in the hall way a woman came in the back door and she was facing Joe but had her back to me.  She asked why we had changed the combination to the back door.  Joe said that we obviously had not changed the code since she had just gotten in.  She said that her and her husband came back very late and could not get in.  They went around the 1st floor banging on all the windows and finally found the kitchen window had a lose lock and her husband got a screw driver and was able to open it up. They crawled into the window and landed in the kitchen sink.   I was standing behind her pretending I was drinking and smoking a joint.  Poor Joe had such a hard time keeping a straight face.  I asked a friend who was a nurse if doctors didn’t prescribe marijuana for glaucoma.  Yes, my friend said but it would not be prescribed in a baggie….  I was trying to give these folks the benefit of the doubt.