Thursday, May 2, 2024

HGB Ep. 536 - Artisan Hotel Investigation and Haunted Deland

Moment in Oddity - Bouncing Cannonballs (Suggested by Suzanne Silk)

Many people have had the experience of skipping rocks across a body of water. Finding just the right smooth stone is the key to success. That concept was used at the Bateria de San Antonio, also called the Spanish Water Battery of Fort Barrancas in Pensacola, Florida. Back during the American Revolution the British controlled Pensacola, Florida and had built a fort atop some hills overlooking the bay. Its purpose was to keep enemy ships from entering the body of water. In 1781, a Spanish fleet came up against the fort and quickly overtook the British, suffering very little damage from their gun fire. The fort itself was of strong fortification, however its location upon the hill made its fire power inadequate for proper protection. The Spanish added to the fort's design by creating a masonry water battery closer to the water level of the bay. The new structure was of semi-circular construction, allowing an expanded field of coverage for their artilleries. The most fascinating part of this complex was that due to its near sea level location, it allowed for cannonballs to be skipped across the surface of the bay. Thus allowing cannonballs to travel greater distances before making contact with their intended target. The fort is the third oldest in Florida with only Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas in St. Augustine being older. Currently, Fort Barrancas only offers exterior, self-guided-tours available on the National Park Services mobile app until May. Skipping cannonballs along a bay's surface to be able to reach their intended target, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Decoration Day

In the month of May, on the 5th, in 1868, the first Decoration Day was observed. It was three years after the end of the Civil War and the Grand Army of the Republic designated the day for decorating the graves of the war dead with flowers. Later, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that the date should be moved to May 30th. The first large observance took place at Arlington National Cemetery. Several Washington officials conducted the ceremonies, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant and, then Congressman, James Garfield. Garfield set a standard at this inaugural address by explaining what Decoration Day was all about and why it should be commemorated. Once the speeches were finished, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery. They laid flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns. The name “Memorial Day” became more commonplace after World War II, but the federal government didn't officially adopt that name until 1967. Later, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971.

Artisan Investigation and Haunted Deland

There is over 400 years of history connected to Volusia County in Florida, including Native American residency, Spanish exploration, French colonization and British settlement. Deland is a city in Volusia County, just a short drive from the Spiritualist camp of Cassadaga. We spent a night at the Artisan Hotel, a boutique hotel in the historic downtown. We did a little investigating and visited some of the paranormal hotspots in town. On this episode, we are going to share what we found about the history and haunts of Deland, Florida! 

The Native Americans who settled what would become Deland left behind oyster mounds and shards of pottery - you know, their version of trash. They knew peace for a long time because it was hard for settlers to reach this area. Only steamboats traveling up the St. Johns River could get here. Steamboat Captain John Rich was the first to settle what was known as Persimmon Hollow for years because of all the wild persimmon trees growing in the vicinity. He arrived in 1874 and built a simple cracker house. Rich had been to Florida before. He had come with his regiment, the 144th New York Infantry, because all of the men were sick with typhoid and they needed to recuperate. When he returned to live, he brought his wife Clara and they eventually had the first child born in Deland. The first religious service in the town was at their house.

Henry Addison Deland was a baking soda magnate from New York and he arrived in 1876 and he thought the area would be great for citrus and tourism. It seems Deland had a case of Orange Fever. That's what they called this fervor that overtook some people who purchased land in Florida. It wasn't that way for him at first though. His brother-in-law brought him down because he had purchased land near a place called Orange City. Deland had no use for dry sand and thick underbrush, but when they got to the rolling hills and towering pines near Orange City, Deland fell in love with the prospects of what he could build here and declared that the area was like the West. I can certainly attest that he couldn't be comparing Florida to Colorado! He founded a town in 1876 and the few residents voted to name it for him. Deland brought many workers from New York to clear the land and lay out streets. The town of Deland would be a special place because of the man who founded it. he felt that this was his time to give back for all that he had been given and he wanted Deland to be a community based on culture and education. Deland was the first city in Florida to have electricity.

In 1877, Deland built a public school for the town. A freeze in 1885 wiped out the orange crop and basically wiped out Deland himself, so he headed back to New York and handed over the school to his friend John B. Stetson. Yes, the guy who created the Stetson hat. The school eventually became Stetson University, named for him. The sports teams are known as the Hatters...we'd like to go with Mad Hatters, but they probably wouldn't appreciate that. Deland was officially incorporated in 1882 and is the county seat of Volusia County. The first courthouse was built in 1888 out of wood on land donated by Henry Deland. The historic Volusia County Courthouse was built in 1929 in the Gothic, Neo-Classical style with a wonderful cupola that features a four-sided clock tower and colossal porticos with fluted Corinthian columns. The interior features stained-glass in the dome and columns with ornately carved capitals. Other buildings have been added to the complex over the years and there is a memorial garden and long fountain pool across the street where the modern courthouse is now located. The newer Volusia County Courthouse is where Aileen Wuornos was tried and convicted and sentenced to death in 1992.

Our first official stop on our adventure through Deland was The Haunted Antique Shop, which unfortunately closed recently as the landlord died and the woman who ran the shop, Corrine Kenner, couldn't buy it herself with all the work that needed to be done. It's a bummer because this was a really cool place! The shop was inside a Craftsman bungalow that was built in 1920 for James and Lucinda DeWalt. There was a building boom in Florida after the First World War and the DeWalts were a part of that. James was a chauffeur and worked shuttling people back and forth in Deland and nearby cities. Lucinda liked to sit in a rocking chair by the fire and work on needlepoint as she waited for James to come home. The shop had a rocker that was built in the 1970s that Corrine dubbed Lucinda's Chair because it would occasionally rock on its own. That chair sat by the fireplace and the front register area. The interior was like walking into your grandmother's parlor, only this one was filled with various curiosities and creepy mannequins. Corrine is a certified Tarot Master and astrologer and we liked her immediately. The shop had an antique register we oohed and ahhed about and then we did the little tour that was offered. The shop has the typical haunting activity of doors opening and closing on their own, lights turning off and on without assistance and there are disembodied footsteps and voices that come from rooms that are empty. A mirror on the top of a cabinet had what looked to be the impression of a woman's face. It was weird.

The house wasn't huge with two bedrooms to the left of the front room, a hallway that leads into a dining room and then a kitchen area behind that filled with vintage kitchen wares. It is believed that there are five spirits in the shop. These are James and Lucinda, James and Rossie Hearne who lived in the house later and Annette Dennis who also lived in the house. James DeWalts disembodied voice has been heard often in the pantry. Corrine and her daughters both experienced that describing it as a deep, baritone calm voice. We had some stuff happen while we were there. Our EMF had a little action, but only hit red a couple times briefly. Corrine came out to tell us that a little wooden soldier apported. (Apported Soldier) Now, of course, we weren't in the room so we can't completely vouch for it, but Corrine seemed like she honestly was shocked that it happened. The most haunted object in the shop was a very little doll called Charlie. We put a video up on Instagram of the Cabinet of Curiosities that had many strange things inside. (Cabinet of curiosities)

There are two little dolls in the cabinet that are a groom and bride and they are named for James and Rossie Hearne and quite possibly, they might be inhabited by their spirits. Corrine would sometimes find the dolls facing away from each other when she would come into the shop in the morning. She would usually leave them with the groom putting his arm around the bride. How they moved, she didn't know. The cabinet certainly has a heavy feeling about it when it is open. When we went into the dining room, we found a little fun wheel of fate that you could spin and the K2 Started going crazy near it. We debunked that there was anything electrical around it and later we went over to see if we would get any spikes and we didn't. Kelly spun the wheel and got "watch your back." A little unnerving. It really was a cute little shop and definitely had energy. Its next evolution will be as a Montessori school. Wonder if any of the kids there will notice anything strange?

We mentioned John Stetson earlier. He brought his wife Elizabeth and their three sons to spend winters in Deland. He not only donated a million dollars to the school that would take his name, he built an ice-making factory, power plant and a packing plant. Stetson had been born in 1830 in New Jersey and learned the hat trade because that was his father's profession. Stetson became ill with TB and headed West to Colorado. In his travels he saw Mexican Vaqueros with 10-gallon sombreros and he decided to make a similar hat that was waterproof. The hat worked so well that cowboys could give their horses water from them. The first one he made was bought off him quickly by a cowboy who saw the value in a wide brim that offered protection from sun and rain. People started calling it "The Boss of the Plains." Stetson settled in Philadelphia in 1865 and became incredibly successful in the hat business, opening several factories. He came to Deland in 1885 and spent 20 winters there. The Stetsons built a magnificent mansion that still stands today. Stetson died in the mansion at the age of 75 in 1906 from a stroke. Elizabeth closed up the mansion after that and it sat abandoned for many years with just a caretaker.

We drove by to have a look, but it is only open to the public at select times like the holiday season. The mansion describes itself as the "only Gilded Age mansion, and the largest, grandest, most innovative home ever built in Florida before 1900." It is very eclectic for sure. Architect George T. Pearson designed it as a blend of Gothic, Tudor, Moorish and Polynesian. This three-story house is huge, but apparently only half the size of what Stetson really wanted. Mrs. Stetson is the one who got the plans reduced to just under 10,000 square feet. This was one of the first homes in Florida to have electricity and Edison himself supervised the installation as he was friends with the Stetsons. The interior featured a variety of complicated carvings, a stunning grand staircase, Tiffany stained glass, a glass wall imported from a French chateau, 16 patterns of the nation's most rare and intricate parquet wood floors and 10,000 panes of original leaded glass windows. There are gardens and gazebos and fountains around the property. An 800 square foot Polynesian-styled building was built next to the house as the kitchen. After the house was expanded to include a kitchen, the building became a private school for the Stetson children. The house hosted the likes of the Astors, the Vanderbilts, Henry Flagler, the Carnegies and PresidentGrover Cleveland. The house is currently owned by J.T. Thompson and Michael Solari who purchased it in 2005. There are those who claim that John Stetson haunts his former home. Much of the activity comes from a middle room on the second floor. A woman staying there claims that she was kissed by someone she couldn't see. Another visitor saw an apparition of a servant wearing garb from the 19th century. People hear music from another era outside where concerts were held in the yard. One might even see the spirit of Stetson's unique pet: an alligator named Beauregard. It was kept in a pit behind the house.

Stetson University is one of the oldest privately funded universities in Florida. It was originally named Deland Academy when it was established in 1883. The campus stretches over 175 acres and several of the buildings on campus are said to be haunted. Deland Hall is known as the "Grand Old Lady" and was built in the late nineteenth century in the French Second Empire style. It has a gorgeous tower at the front of it with the very distinctive roof. One female student claimed that she was sitting in a couch in the hall studying when the grandfather clock near hear struck three times and then she heard very loud footsteps near her. She looked up and around but there was nobody around. She left and later told a professor about the odd experience and he looked at her strangely and told her that the grandfather clock didn't work and hadn't chimed in years. Elizabeth Hall was named for Stetson's wife Elizabeth and was designed after Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This started as the College of Natural Sciences. Several different departments are housed there now, along with faculty offices. The south end of the building has Lee Chapel. This is a 100-year old performance hall having been built in 1897. It is named after a former president and features a 1961 Beckerath Organ made in Hamburg, Germany that has 2,548 pipes.

Chaudoin Hall features disembodied footsteps and strange noises and screaming down the hallways. Cameron Chavannes wrote of the haunts on campus in a Medium article in 2013 named "The Ghost of Deland." She said, "I was in Chaudoin last year and I did experience hearing noises and loud screams at the end of the hallway. The history of Chaudoin Hall and the experiences of my friends and I all point toward possible paranormal activity. My favorite haunted place on campus is Elizabeth Hall, and the ghost of Elizabeth who haunts it. I think every Stetson student has heard of this particular ghost. Some of my friends have experienced paranormal events going on in Elizabeth Hall while they were studying for finals a couple of years ago. One night, my friend Danny was studying in Elizabeth and he heard noises from the bathroom. He heard the bathroom door open, but did not see anyone come out. The noises become louder even though no one was around and he eventually packed up his stuff and walked back to his dorm. He has never been back to study at Elizabeth Hall, and to this day, he still will not go back to the building." And she didn't say what dorm she lived in but she also shared, "A couple of months ago, I had come back from class and went into my dorm room. I said hi to my roommate, but she was not in the room, so I assumed she was in the bathroom. I heard her say hello back only for her to walk into the room from the front door a couple of seconds later. I was completely shocked."

Hulley Tower is a unique part of the campus and despite the fact that the tower part no longer exists, it still has something about it that makes it strange on a university campus. This is a mausoleum. One of the presidents of Stetson University was Dr. Lincoln Hulley. He served from 1904 until 1934, so he left a mark on the place. During his tenure, he helped to fund the building of the Hulley Tower in 1934. This rose to 116 feet and featured rough cast bells that ranged in size from 575 to 3,000 pounds. Before the tower could be finished, Hulley died and he was buried on the first floor. His wife, Eloise Mayham Hulley, died 25 years later and was buried next to him. The eleven bell carillon were named for Eloise as the Eloise Chimes. Stories on campus maintain that the Hulleys like to take ghostly walks and they usually have a small dog with them. The couple are usually seen arm-in-arm walking near their mausoleum, but sometimes they venture across campus. Nearby residents also have experiences. One of these residents was walking near an establishment that had housed the Holiday House Restaurant when he saw a couple walking their little white dog and he approached them to see if he could pet the dog. As he got closer, he noticed that their clothing was of another era, so he thought perhaps they were on their way to a costume party. And then the couple just wasn't there anymore. People who have investigated outside the tower have picked up the distinct smell of flowers even though there were no flowers around.

The DaVinci Design Studio is located at 117 W. Howry Avenue. This has been home to a variety of businesses over the years including Trilogy Coffee, Buddha Bowl, a hot dog stand, CBD store and an antique shop. There are thought to be three ghosts here. One is a little girl. Another is named Hiram who had lived in a back room of the house and he is a mean spirit. A woman named Tifany had worked there and she heard his raspy disembodied breathing and one day she was up on a ladder painting and she turned around to see a man standing there with glasses and a bald head and he disappeared. The third ghost is named Evelyn and it is thought that she was Hiram's cousin and she took care of him. The lights flicker on their own often in the house.

The Masonic Building at 142 S. Woodland Boulevard was built in 1925 by William Carpenter and was known as the St. John's Masonic Lodge #7. The lower floor had a lobby, fireplace and five stores. The second floor contained parlors and a large banquet room. The third floor had the lodge rooms where rituals were conducted. The main meeting room was obscured from onlookers. People who have worked in the building claim to have heard disembodied chanting and they have seen a figure wearing a cloak. No businesses have been successful on the second floor. 

The Putnam Hotel started as the Grove House in 1880 and was built by Henry Deland. It changed its name to Putnam House for Arthur Putnam who bought it in 1885. In 1888 it changed to the Putnam Inn. This was a wooden structure that burned to the ground in 1921. The newly built concrete hotel opened in 1923 designed by architect William Carpenter in the Mediterranean Revival style. (Fun Fact: Carpenter designed Hotel Cassadaga too.) It had a great run as a hotel offering luxury, but eventually it became more of a night spot for drinking in the bar, which later expanded into a rock music venue and then a few other incarnations before it finally closed in 2011. It was demolished in 2023. One legend behind the haunts that were here is about a couple renting a room. The female was an actress and she was starring in a play and she went off to do that while her husband stayed at the hotel. Later, he saw a man embrace his wife and give her flowers and he got really jealous and the two argued later at the hotel and were told they would have to leave if they didn't quiet down. The next day, the actress went to do her play while her husband went and bought a gun. He again saw her being embraced and getting flowers and he confronted her when she got back to the hotel and pulled the gun. She tried to grab the gun, it went off and it killed her. He then turned the gun on himself. The man who had been visiting her at the play turned out to be her long lost brother. Even though the hotel was torn down in 2023, people still claim to hear a man and woman screaming and two gunshots when they pass the site. The sixth floor had a poltergeist spirit and there was a burning wood and flesh smell that probably carries over from a 1917 fire in the hotel. Much of the hauntings here were thought to be residual. And this is crazy, Tifany shared a video of the hotel being torn down and the SLS app on her phone showed a figure standing at the chainlink fence and it looked like it was trying to shake the fence in anger.

The Athens Theater was once the centerpiece of downtown Deland. The theater was designed by Murray S. King in the Italian Renaissance style and features some weird decor. There are these gargoyle grotesques and what looks like the medical symbol all across the top. The theater opened its doors on January 6, 1922 with a four-act comic play, a silent movie, a melodrama and four vaudeville acts, with legend claiming that W.C. Fields was one of those acts. Silent movies were accompanied by a Wurlitzer pipe organ. When talkies started, the theater transitioned to movie house. For a time it became a dinner theater and closed in the 1990s. It sat vacant for twenty years and then community leaders decided to renovate and reopen it, which they did in 2009. Like all other historic theaters, this one has some haunts. A former stagehand walks the catwalks and apparitions of past performers are seen in the dressing rooms. Two specific spirits are brother and sister, Isaac and Maria. They were from the Athens family and passed away when they were children in the livery that had been where the theater now stands. Theater employees always make sure to say hi to them when they come in. Maria is seen wearing a simple dress and ribbons in her hair. The entire production of a play once heard the children singing along in the wings. The two mainly hang out in the box seats on the left-hand side of the building. And they do like to run up and down the stairs.

Edwin Barnhill built the Deland Hotel in 1927 with his wife Jeanette. The interiors were luxurious for the time and each room had a bathroom. Kind of. Each room had a sink and then two rooms shared a bathroom. There were forty fairly small rooms to help make the place more affordable. An open-air bus would carry guests to the beach. Just four years after opening, Jeanette passed away. Edwin was declared insane a year later. People claimed that the spirit of Jeanette had driven him crazy. The two didn't have a good relationship and spent much of their time having scream fights. Edwin complained that Jeanette was hounding him after death about his drinking and spending. The hotel became the Landmark Hotel for awhile. The building was bought by Chryst and John Soety in 1996 and they renovated it to eight suites and renamed it the Artisan Inn. They leased to another company in 2011 and it eventually fell behind on payments so the Soetys decided to sell in February 2013. The Artisan sat vacant and stayed that way until the following year when it reopened as the Artisan Downtown under the ownership of Sara and Hina Patel. There were eight boutique-style suites on the second floor and an Indian-European fusion restaurant downstairs, along with a bar. Today, the hotel has fourteen rooms and the restaurant is now CHICAS Cuban Cafe and the food was amazing!

We loved our room and we decided to do a little investigating before we went down for dinner. Edwin and Jeanette are thought to haunt the premises, especially on the second floor where their room had been. Edwin also likes to hang out in the basement. There is the spirit of a young girl named Sara Elizabeth and she likes to tug on sleeves. Disembodied footsteps and whistling is heard in empty rooms. Dishes fly off counters and shelves in the kitchen. Legend claims that a prostitute was strangled in the hotel, although we haven't found proof for that. Some think that she haunts the hotel. Diane turned on the Ghost Tube App and we immediately got trapped and then we were told we were talking to someone who was young, which struck Diane as weird because she was just about to ask the age of the spirit. Kelly got out her dousing rods and we immediately got interaction. We got confirmation that we were talking to a child. We talked about the bear we brought with us and the dousing rods pointed that direction. We also had set up the flashlight experiment near the bear and the flashlight came on and then it turned off at our request. (Artisan Flashlight) Kelly confirmed we had multiple spirits with the dousing rods and the flashlight came on again and the Ghost Tube App said "where am I?" We continued to dial into how many spirits were with us. (Artisan Three) So we not only had Diane's head saying 3, but the flashlight turned on for three and the dousing rods confirmed it.

(Estes Session 1 Artisan) Our first Estes Session immediately started with "callate," which is basically, "shut up" in Spanish. Diane wasn't sure that the music she referred to as Cuban was really Cuban music, but it's interesting that Kelly was talking about the music from the Cuban restaurant downstairs. Diane had taken off the headphones when that last part came through. We really can't make it out. Here it is again. (End Estes Session 1)

We conducted a second Estes Session and got the following interactions. (Estes Session 2 Artisan) Although the voice doesn't sound like a child, we definitely got a "yes" to the question about whether we had a child with us. There was flirting with "hey baby" and we got some Spanish. It was cool to get "habla" when Kelly was talking about speaking one at a time. 

We went for dinner and returned for some more investigating and our room was completely dead - lol! The lounge downstairs had ramped up with music and frivolity and we figured the spirits were bored with us old ladies.We slept through the night without any issues. The next morning we hit C's Country Diner at 413 S. Woodland Blvd and it was excellent. As you can see, Deland is a fun day trip and even overnighter. Are these locations haunted? That is for you to decide!

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