A look at South Florida’s spookiest properties

Miami River Inn has been called a great place for "ghost hunters or sound sleepers"

TRD MIAMI /
Oct.October 30, 2015 03:45 PM

On this Halloween Eve, The Real Deal South Florida explored Miami’s oldest and most haunted properties: the Biltmore Hotel, Deering Estate, Casa Casuarina, the City of Miami Cemetery and the Miami River Inn. Among the paranormal activity? The sounds of doors opening and shutting, noise from nonexistent parties and the ghosts of wars past.

Here’s a look at TRD‘s top picks:

Biltmore Hotel | Coral Gables | Built in 1926

The founder of Coral Gables developed the Biltmore Hotel in 1926. It’s considered one of Miami’s haunted properties, serving as a hospital during World War II, as a VA Hospital and the University of Miami’s medical school until 1968.

Rumor has it the spirit of gangster Thomas Walsh haunts the hotel: Walsh was shot and killed by another gangster in 1929 at a party on the 13th floor.

Alleged paranormal occurrences at the Biltmore include being tapped on the shoulder by men in army uniforms, noise from parties that aren’t happening, and the ghost of a man in a white tuxedo appearing in the elevators – elevators that have been said to stop on the 13th floor for no reason.

Deering Estate | Palmetto Bay | Built in 1900

Industrialist Charles Deering lived at the 44-acre property from 1922 until he died there in 1927. It’s home to a prehistoric burial mound with anywhere from 12 to 18 burials of Native Americans, one of a handful in the county, as well as archeological remains – dating back 10,000 years. The state of Florida and Miami-Dade County purchased the estate in 1985, when Deering’s last heir died. No one has lived there since. [Miami Herald]

Casa Casuarina | Miami Beach | 1930

After a morning walk in the summer of 1997, Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered on the front steps of the Versace Mansion, now known as Casa Casuarina.

“He was murdered right there as he was trying to walk in – he was fiddling with his key, trying to open the gate,” historian Paul George told the Miami New Times last year.

Creepy or not, it sold for $41.5 million at an auction in 2o13. [Miami New Times]

City of Miami Cemetery | Miami | 1887

About 1,000 open plots remain at the city’s oldest cemetery, which is home to some of Miami’s founding members: Julia Tuttle, William Burdine (of Burdines, later Macy’s) and Dr. James Jackson. Veterans of the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I and II can also be found there, according to the city of Miami’s website.

The criteria to be buried there is “strict,” the website reads. “One must be able to produce proof of ownership for a plot and must be either the deed holder or able to prove familial relationship to the owner.” Friends of the family are not allowed.

Miami River Inn | Miami | 1906

MiMo developer Avra Jain picked up the historic hotel earlier this year , which has been called a great place for “ghost hunters or sound sleepers” in a TripAdvisor review.

“At 11 p.m. every night, patrons on the first floor allegedly hear the front door open and close loudly, hear someone wipe their shoes on the welcome mat, running, and a shaking door knob,” according to the Huffington Post. “Others also say they hear what appears to be a ghostly tantrum of someone throwing items around the halls, but nothing is found outside.” [Huffington Post]


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