In addition to the ghosts of disillusioned Midwesterners and model rejects that roam the streets of South Beach, lots of other spooky spirits are hanging around the Magic City. Just ask Paul George, native Miamian, professor of history at Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus, and historian at HistoryMiami.
With only a few days until Halloween, we spoke with George to get some background on the most ghastly and ghoulish haunts in our fair city.
4. Versace Mansion (AKA Casa Casuarina)
A dude getting murdered on his own front steps has to produce some ghostly juju.
"The building goes back to 1930. It was in pretty rough shape until he bought it," George says of famed fashion designer Gianni Versace. "He was murdered right there as he was trying to walk in -- he was fiddling with his key, trying to open the gate."
But even with its creepy past, the mansion still sold last year for a whopping $41.5 million. Guess some people are OK with a little dried blood on their front stoop.
George conducts a tour of the cemetery every Halloween. This year, he'll do two this Thursday night -- one at 6 and another at 8. The cemetery has been around since 1897, so some of Miami's most notable names are buried there.
"Kids would go there on Halloween night and tell ghost stories. The last one to leave would always win something," George says. "So it was already judged by early Miami [to be haunted]. The body of Julia Tuttle, mother of Miami, is there."
During his Halloween tours, a Julia impersonator will sit at the Tuttle graveside and tell tales as if she's back from the dead. Creeptastic.
2. Villa Paula
This neoclassical Little Haiti stronghold was built in 1925 by the first Cuban consul for his wife, Paula. She died very young, George says, under mysterious circumstances.
"Doors have slammed, things have fallen from shelves," he says of the villa's ghostly reputation. It's had many owners over the years, for obvious reasons.
"It was actually a Haitian doctor's office. I think somebody owns it now, but it has changed owners in very orderly fashion."
Coral Gables' gorgeous Golden Age gem was also the scene of a grisly bloodletting. In 1929, a mobster was killed there. "His name was Fatty Welch," George says. "It's said that his ghost permeates the Biltmore. People have mentioned many untoward things things that have happened, and everyone attributes it to that slain mobster."
There you have it, folks: Miami's macabre best. Happy Halloween!
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