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St. Francis Inn

This is one of the oldest places in St. Augustine built in 1791 by Gaspar Garcia. In 1838 it was bought by Colonel Thomas Dummett and after his death in 1839 it passed to his wife. In 1845, the year Florida became a state; Mrs. Dummett gave the place to her daughters Sarah and Anna Dummett who opened it as a boarding house.

In 1855, Anna sold the place, then known as the Dummett House, to her brother-in-law Major William Hardee, who in Civil War history is recognized as Confederate General William Hardee.

Anna continued to manage the boarding house until the 1880s when General Hardee sold it to John Wilson who added a third floor to the original two-story dwelling. Behind the building is a small slave cabin, which is used today as guest quarters. It is now a beautiful Bed and Breakfast…but with a ghost.

The ghost that haunts the St. Francis Inn is an African-American girl who has made her appearances to guests in the hallway and in Room 3A. The most unusual encounter has been the sighting of a black person’s hand on the banister of the stairway. Apparently the spirit of St. Francis Inn is a playful one who likes to turn on lights in the middle of the night or change the temperature of the water while someone is showering. Guests at the Inn have reported hearing strange moaning sounds that could not be explained but thought to be caused by the ghost.

There is a sad but romantic tale behind the St. Francis haunting. According to the story, a nephew of General Hardee’s was staying at the Inn prior to the Civil War and fell in love with one of the black slave girls. It is believed that the girl’s name was Lilly, but under the laws of the time interracial relationships were forbidden. They were left to carry on their romance in secret but it was more than the young man could take, so he committed suicide. It is not clear if he killed himself at the Inn or some other place. Lilly carried her grief to her grave and it is said that this is why she still wanders through the building. Many sightings of her have been on the third floor, which was originally an attic and may have been the secret rendezvous spot for the forbidden lovers. But if you are lucky enough to stay at the St. Francis Inn, don’t be alarmed if you encounter Lily, she is a friendly spirit.

Weird Florida

 

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