BREVARD COUNTY — Friends, it’s that time of year again. Time for pumpkin coring, apple picking, and things that go bump in the night. The hallowed, haunted, and horrible begin to rear their creepy gaze, whether you like it or not!
Halloween bears a rich history, lush in lore and legend and is the perfect time of year to indulge in a classic Gothic read, like Dracula or Frankenstein. Or perhaps you prefer to take in a fearsome flick, like The Haunting, or whimsically fearsome, like Hocus Pocus. Whatever your flavor, the paranormal culture has certainly taken a foothold in our moderately frightened hearts, unleashing a host of occupations, and garnering a multitude of devotees.
While Eastern European countries first come to mind for all things ghostly (Transylvania), America is rife with the supernatural, including Brevard County. Our neck of the woods is home to many eerie encounters, some of which have landed on national “Top Ten Most Haunted” lists.
Whether you’re a die-hard enthusiast or merely want to dip a toe in the murky waters of otherworldly discoveries, below is a list of where you can do so.
Mathers Bridge. Despite their poignant beauty, there can be something unsettling about an old bridge. The patina on weathered beams, the creek of wooden planks; it almost makes you not want to cross one. Throw in a ghost or two and you might not ever cross one. The Mathers Bridge in Merritt Island has been known to harbor watery specters for some time. Fishermen have claimed to hear lively voices and music tones on weekend nights, possibly long gone patrons of the Mathers Bridge Restaurant which stood on the west end of the bridge for 52 years before closing in 1992.
Three of our playhouse theaters are known to be haunted. The Titusville Playhouse, the Cocoa Village Playhouse, and the Henegar Center were constructed decades ago and hold much historical value. It seems those early decades left behind more than just architectural remnants. Ghostly reports of a nefarious murderer, a former handyman, and a friendly prankster spirit named, Jonathan, are well-known. Accounts of moving objects and cold spots have also been experienced. I leave it up to you to match the phantom to its “opera”house by visiting these theaters, all of which put on spectacular performances throughout the year.
The 1900 Building, located in Downtown Melbourne, was built in 1924 as the grand Melbourne Hotel, hosting stylish ladies and gentlemen of the era. It’s also the final destination of several spirits. You may come across Amelia, a young girl roaming the halls in search of her lost love, a seafaring captain, or Timothy McGuire, a former resident of the hotel. Angered by the hotel’s garish use of colorful Flapper linen in lieu of refined, white cotton, Mr. McGuire vowed to haunt the hotel forever. Some say he succeeded.
Route 520. Sadly, this stretch of road has had its fair share of fatal car accidents throughout the years. Motorists have mentioned seeing “ghost” cars and spirits in the dead of night, and a ghoulish, green light emanating through the darkness. Perhaps it’s all part of an active imagination. Perhaps it’s merely swamp gas. Maybe we’ll use another road come nightfall. You decide.
No haunted sites list would be complete without mention of Ashley’s Restaurant in Rockledge. The sad story of 19 year old, Ethel Allen, brutally murdered and found on the banks of the Indian River nearby is widely known. Ms. Allen was a local and regular of the eatery then known as “Jack’s Tavern” (1934). Ashley’s was one of the last places she was seen, and it’s believed she’s the reason for the hauntings. Everything from objects being moved, to cold spots, to mirrored apparitions, to a feeling of being pushed have been reported. It’s also reported that the food at Ashley’s is delicious!
Established in the 1800s, Georgiana Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Brevard County, and is also thought to be haunted. This final resting place of our earliest settlers is actually beautiful and serene, but many have described a feeling of unease as they walk among the tombstones. Ms. Allen, mentioned above, is interred here. She and other spirits have been “felt,” along with experiences of unusual noises, apparitions, and a feeling of being “touched.”
A creaky old home with porches, turrets, and looming bay windows is also cause for pause, particularly at night. Brevard County has no shortage of old, Victorian homes including its very own collection of haunted houses. The Queen-Anne style Pritchard House (1891) in Titusville is allegedly haunted by the ghosts of her early familial inhabitants. The Rossetter House (Melbourne) has reports of a woman’s voice in the foyer heard saying, “there’s too much commotion in my house.”Other “whisperings”have been noted, as well as photos of orbs and mists. There’s further speculation that both Green Gables (1896) and the Strawberry Mansion (The Mansion Restaurant) in Melbourne have phantoms roaming the property.
It’s important to mention that the Pritchard and Rossetter houses are working museums, welcoming visitors yearly; Green Gables is undergoing refurbishment; and The Mansion is a working restaurant. Evidently - haunted or not - these properties are of historical significance and play a part in modern society.
Finally, we come to Hell and Blazes Brewery also located in Downtown Melbourne. This building was once the home of Brownlee Funeral Home where victims of a nearby plane crash (1925) were brought to. The property is known for spooky piano playing, eerie footsteps, balls bouncing, cold spots, moving objects, and various apparitions.
And so, we’ve come to the end of our eerie list - yes, 13 in total. These tales are full of mystery and intrigue, however, as in all things, there are believers and non-believers. Either way, these tales are curious, compelling, and perfect for autumn camp-fire retelling.
When visiting these locations, please be mindful and respectful as many are working businesses or places of sacramental importance.