Legendary Haunts of The Palm Beaches
As Halloween approaches, why not scare up a ghoulishly good time? Guided ghost tours from companies like Wicked Delray Beach will shed light on the mysteries, murders and mayhem of The Palm Beaches’ past. Or, create your own haunted tour with this list of legendary locations. Who knows—maybe you’ll even experience some haunted hijinks of your own!
Florida’s Most Haunted Pub
The echo of footsteps, candles that light and extinguish themselves, and mysterious wailing in the night: Delray Beach’s Blue Anchor Pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of Bertha Starkey, a wanton British woman who was killed by her jealous husband at a London pub in the mid-19th century.
So what does all this have to do with The Palm Beaches? The pub’s façade and luxurious interior were transported to this Delray Beach location, and Bertha is said to have come right along with them, helping establish it as “Florida’s Most Haunted Pub” in 2004 by the Travel Channel. Every night at 10—the time she was allegedly murdered—staff members ring a ship’s bell to scare her away. Visit for a couple of pints, bangers and mash, and a side of spooky fun.
Blue Anchor British Pub, 804 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach
The Haunted Heritage of Riddle House
The living history park of Yesteryear Village at the South Florida Fairgrounds showcases buildings and artifacts from 1895 to 1945, including the Riddle House—famously featured on a 2008 episode of the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.” The funeral parlor-turned-private residence is said to be haunted by Joseph, an employee of former homeowner Karl Riddle. Joseph hanged himself from the attic rafters rather than face his financial troubles, and he allegedly still inhabits the attic today.
According to Karl Riddle’s personal diary, after Joseph’s death, the family had trouble keeping help in the home because staff claimed to hear rattling chains on the stairs, murmuring voices and objects being moved around. Curious seekers can learn the stories behind the house and other village buildings during guided nighttime tours on the first Fridays in November and December. Or, bring the kids for trick-or-treating at Spookyville, every Friday-Sunday through the end of October.
Ghostly Good Parties
The Flagler Museum is a 75-room Gilded Age mansion that was built by Henry Flagler, the “father of Palm Beach,” as a wedding gift for his third wife, Mary Lily. The couple moved in on February 6, 1902, and supposedly never left. They used the home as a winter retreat, entertaining constantly until 1913, when 83-year-old Henry died after tumbling down the marble staircase. Mary Lily died four years later. And now some contend that broken dishes, jammed locks and unexplained voices are evidence that the couple is still entertaining from beyond the grave. Take a tour to rub elbows with the ghostly guests.
Famous Shopping Haunts
Renowned for its fabulous shopping and Mediterranean architecture, Worth Avenue’s famous storefronts have also proven a draw for paranormal enthusiasts. Ghostly apparitions of socialite Barbara Hutton and even President John F. Kennedy—who had a home in Palm Beach—are rumored to be seen at legendary bistro and bar Ta-boo. An infamous 16th-century Spanish conquistador is said to be seen strolling along the deck of the administration offices of Neiman-Marcus. And the playful poltergeist of Gucci is blamed for flickering lights, opening doors, moving things around and calling out employee names.
Worth Avenue, between S. Ocean Blvd. and Cocoanut Row
Mystery of the Witch’s Wall
On the island of Palm Beach, Country Club Road cuts through a narrow, canyon-like stretch of coral rock which has been the source of mysterious legends for generations. The most popular tale involves an evil witch who kidnapped children and kept them trapped inside the coral cave; the only way to free one is to touch the wall. Adding to the mystery of the place is a strange barred window on the south side of the cut. Some have reported seeing an eerie glow emanating from it at night.
Palm Beach Coral Cut, 300-326 Country Club Rd., Palm Beach
Theater with a Boo
The Lake Worth Playhouse occupies the former Oakley Theatre, constructed by brothers Lucien and Clarence Oakley in 1924. Their dream was to own a movie palace and vaudeville house, but those dreams were dashed when the full weight of the Great Depression struck and they lost ownership of the theater for good. Lucien refused to leave, however. And some people claim to have seen his ghost in mirrors, his handprints on the walls, and heard his footsteps along the empty catwalk. Apparently Lucien isn’t trying to “haunt,” but rather ensure that things are running smoothly in his treasured theatre.
Spirit Animal Antics
The only two marked graves in Palm Beach are tucked into the courtyard of Pizza Al Fresco off Worth Avenue. The first belongs to Johnnie Brown, the beloved pet spider monkey of 1920s architect-celeb Addison Mizner. He received special permission to erect a gravestone and inter his favorite pet in this location, which is near his former home. After Mizner’s death, his home was purchased by socialites Rose and Morton Sachs, who were able to add the grave of their Scottish terrier, Laddie. Some claim the two animals have become great friends and can be spotted playing together in the afterlife in Via Mizner.
Pizza al Fresco, 14 Via Mizner, Palm Beach