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Ghostly Children Haunt the Abandoned Popash School

Popash is the name of a tree that grows in South Florida. It is also the name of a rural community on Route 64 between Zolfo Springs and Avon Park that was settled about 125 years ago when this part of Hardee County was still in DeSota County.

In the 1890s Popash thrived as a small farming town with its own post office. But when the railroad by-passed the place, Popash began fading away. Most of its history is etched in the stones of the New Hope Cemetery or passed in the stories told by a few remaining old timers.

The first school was built in 1898 and replaced in the 1900s by a two-story brick one. For several generations the old brick school has sat abandoned beside the road. Emblazoned across its entrance is the name POPASH, strangely the letters are still bright as new after all these years. Sitting under moss-drenched oaks, it is an inviting sight for any ghost hunter and this place is not without its ghost legend.

Some people have claimed that the building was once a hospital and that it is haunted by children who died from a fever epidemic; however, there is no evidence that it was ever used for any purpose other than a school. Another legend has it being built on the site of an original wooden school that burned-down claiming the lives of several children. There is no evidence to support that story either. Of course, it could still be haunted.

The old building is a disaster inside, the window panes are busted out allowing vines to creep into the former classrooms. The school had two large rooms upstairs and two downstairs, with a smaller room that I suppose was the principal’s office. The floor is rotten and the plaster is crumbling, but the wide stairs leading to the second floor are in fairly good shape. I would warn against venturing inside this place as it is quite dangerous. The upstairs is full of moans and groans, especially when the wind blows and no doubt would present a real scary scenario at night. Previous intruders have left their graffiti where pupils once wrote on chalk boards. A few have scrawled the word “Boo” on the walls, leading me to suspect that ghost hunters have visited this old school. I did not hear or see any ghosts, but the Popash School is certainly a part of local history, and yes, a prime candidate for a haunting.

You Can Still Hear Children’s Voices
There’s an old school on 64 outside of Wauchulla that is haunted. If you go there at night you can still hear children playing inside and sometimes a school bell ringing. –Firestorm

Ghostly Voices at Popash
You should visit the old two-story school near Zolfo Springs. It is a ghostly place and they say you can still hear voices of the students that used to go there. –Lynn T.

“Popash” = Witchcraft?
Go about three of four miles east of Zolfo Springs and look on the right and you will see a red brick building that is haunted. Over the door is a sign that says POPASH. Somebody told me that this building is used by devil worshippers and that POPASH is a word that has something to do with witchcraft. –Chris

Strange People Living There
Popash School was closed down about thirty years ago. They say it’s haunted by some children who died in a fire when the first wood schoolhouse burned down. The brick school is built on the same property as the old school. I wouldn’t go there because sometimes there are strange people living there. –GT409

Handprints of Children in the Popash Dust
The Popash School has been abandoned a long time. It is next to a cemetery where they buried the dead. It was built probably about 1900 and has been used as a school, a residence, and a hospital. I think the haunted stories are about when it was a hospital during a typhoid fever outbreak and many kids died there and now their spirits haunt the building. We went there and saw small handprints in the dust on the windows and window ledges and heard sounds that sounded like children crying. –tazgirl

Heard Sounds of Children Playing
The Popash School is not haunted by children that went there to school, it is the children who went to the first school that used to be at the same place. The first school was a one-room school made of wood and it burned down and killed some kids inside and their spirits started haunting the new school when it was built. When the new school was closed their ghosts stayed there. I have been twice at night with friends and you can hear the sounds of children playing if you are quiet and listen carefully. It is eerie. –Kim H.

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