“And the sound of a woman sobbing started again, just like moments before, and again, I went to the 2nd floor and found no one – and we’d been closed for almost 20 minutes”
— Robert Drent, staffer at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum quoted in December 2008 via Ripleys.com
St. Augustine has a lot of firsts, but what I didn’t know was that it has the first Ripley’s Believe it or Not…until my recent visit. Naturally, I was drawn to this attraction, since I am wired for the strange, weird and creepy. This, however, is not the first Ripley’s I have been to (and not the last), but this particular Ripley’s has a special story.\
Robert Ripley had a hankering for the weird, so it was a natural progression for one of St. Augustine’s most notorious buildings to house his collection of “weird things”. The former Castle Warden Inn, an 1880 poured concrete castle, was originally built and owned by William G. Warden. It was later sold to “The Yearling” author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her husband who turned it into a swank hotel.
On April 23 1944, two young women died in a fire in this very hotel. Legend has it that these women were actually murdered, and the fire was set to cover the evidence. There was an unnamed man that is now called “Mr. X”, who is suspected in these murders. These two women, along with Mr. X, are said to haunt this castle today. Numerous documented accounts of the paranormal have been captured and the stories just keep coming.
What makes this Ripley’s cooler than the rest? Well, it’s said to be haunted which is always up my alley, but even better than that, this is the ONLY Ripley’s with a full on a paranormal investigation that YOU can be a part of! Take a tour on Ripley’s Ghost Train Adventure and experience the paranormal with your very own investigative equipment furnished by Ripley’s. This Ripley’s also has unique pieces in Ripley’s collection of weird including the Pirates, Predators of the Sea Exhibit.
Other haunts in St. Augustine – St. Francis Inn
For more information on St. Augustine, please click here.