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The History of Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida

One morning in November, something scared me into shivers when showering. The door seemed to slam, and the lights burned out suddenly. I jumped out of the shower petrified and ran out in a towel for around 12 feet. I went outside to the rotunda after quickly throwing on a t-shirt. No one was frantic about a blackout as all the lights were on.

While I never experienced something like that again, it was enough for me. Room 300 in Ponce Hall is the place to be if you want to experience a semi-active night.

This is one of the horror stories you will hear about Flagler College, a distinguished private liberal arts college. Although thousands of students go through the institution year in year out, some are oblivious of its not-so-rosy history. The location of the college is rumored to be haunted by many ghosts.

The building did not start as an educational institution. It was first built as a luxury hotel by Henry Morrison Flagler, an oil magnate, and tycoon in the late ’80s. It was known as the Ponce de Leon Hotel. The hotel was taken over by the federal government during World War II.

It was primarily used as a Coast Guard Training Centre; the hotel was permanently closed in 1967. In 1968, it was reopened as the Flagler college.

As aforementioned, many ghosts are said to live in the college. Below are some of the most prominent ghosts that haunt the school to date.

Henry’s Flagler Ghost

The story states that when Flagler passed on, his funeral was held on the college grounds. Before he died, Flagler had requested that all windows and doors be left open so that his spirit could freely leave to the afterlife. As the funeral service was going on, a wandering janitor closed all the open windows. As a result, the spirit did not fly away but was stuck inside the college. As his spirit was trying to escape, it hit the closed window and bounced back, falling on the tiles. They say that to this very day, if you are on a specific tile to the left of the doors towards the back of the front hall, you can see Henry’s face. A student in Flagler College in the late ’60s invited Henry to visit his room, and he has been messing with students and haunting the place ever since.

Flagler’s Second Wife

Ida Alice Flagler, Henry’s 2nd wife, is also rumored to be haunting the hotel. It is said that Mrs. Flagler was mentally unstable. Her health did not improve even though she was committed and she spent most of her days constantly ranting at the walls. She died of consumption which is modern-day Tuberculosis, because it consumes its victims. Today, she haunts the college wandering around as she stares at the paintings and gorgeous ceilings. It is stated that her husband’s numerous affairs also drove her mad. At times, she is seen staring at a section of the wall where Flagler’s large painting once stood.

Henry’s Flagler Mistress

The lady is believed to haunt the 4th floor where she allegedly hung herself. The room to date remains boarded up, but some curious students still peek in the keyhole.

Hotel Guests

Two hotel guests are also said to haunt the college. One is a lady in blue who haunts because she was sad. It is said that she ran up the hotel’s stairs in tears after a married man refused to marry her, tripped in her dress, fell, and broke her neck. The final ghost is that of a small boy. There are two stories about him. One is that he had a disease and died in the hotel. The other is that he was a relative to a student charged to look after him. He fell to his death because the said student was not watching him.

St Augustine Florida USA city skyline and Bridge of Lions

The 4th floor at Flagler’s College today remains inhabited because of all the ghost stories. It is instead used for storing sports equipment. In the past, it is said to have housed students that had to move because of allegedly screaming from the mirror room, throwing things off walls, and a host of other ghostly activities.

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