Haunted places exist all over the world and come with a myriad of strange and mysterious histories. These places seem to, for whatever reasons, draw in paranormal phenomena like moths to a flame, and it can sometimes be difficult to assess why this should be. Yet in other cases we can guess at what propels the spooky reputations of such places, and one of these is the estate of a 19th century business tycoon who happened to build his formidable estate upon an Indian burial ground. Hijinks ensue.
Back in the 19th century, Charles Deering was doing rather well for himself. His father was William Deering, founder of Deering Harvester Company, his brother was the millionaire industrialist tycoon James Deering, and he himself was the chairman of the board for his father’s company and would eventually take it over. He was a successful business man and philanthropist who had more money than he knew what to do with. In 1890, Deering began spending more and more time in the state of Florida, which at the time was attracting droves of the filthy rich looking to buy up beachfront property. Hotels and resorts were popping up all over the place, and Deering was one of the many business tycoons who wanted a piece of the pie.
Deering began buying up land like crazy, and one of his purchases was a small wooden inn overlooking Biscayne Bay called the Richmond Cottage, which at the time despite its modest appearance was an immensely popular place to stay, its register filled with a who’s who of famous and notable people of the era. Deering bought it in 1916, and immediately tore down most of the iconic establishment to make way for a sprawling estate with various new structures built, including a carriage house, pump house and power house. He also built a three-story Mediterranean mansion called Stone House and limestone walls around the whole thing. Deering would move into the estate in 1922 and live there until his death in 1927, after which it passed on to his family and then changed hands a few times before being purchased by the State of Florida in 1985 to be turned into a national landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, serving as house museum and cultural and ecological field station.
The land itself holds many unique ecological, geological and archaeological features, such as largest virgin coastal tropical hardwood hammock in the continental United States, a sinkhole full of the fossils of Pleistocene animals, and also a prehistoric Indian burial mound called the Cutler Burial Mound, believed to contain 12 to 18 burials of Native Americans. So yes, it was all basically built on an Indian burial ground, which if you’ve ever seen a horror movie you know is not a good sign. Not only that, but the burial mound is also a defiled one, having been ransacked on several occasions, most notably by Henry Perrine, Jr, son of Henry Perrine, who in the 1860s dug up much of the mound in a fruitless search for Black Caesar‘s treasure, tossing out any bones or skulls he found along the way. When construction was going on for the Deering estate workers would allegedly sometimes dig up bones and just throw them out in the garbage as well. Whether the burial mound and its defilement has anything to do with the hauntings here is unknown, but boy is the Deering Estate ever haunted.
By all accounts the Deering Estate is absolutely crawling with ghosts, a veritable hive of paranormal activity. Orbs of light, electronics that turn on or off by themselves, flickering lights, cold spots, moving furniture, disembodied voices, pokes and prods by unseen hands, anomalous noises, and full apparitions are among the many weird things one can expect to see or experience here. Among the many ghosts said to lurk about the premises are the spirits of children, maids, Native Americans, butlers, and even the ghost of Deering himself, said to sit in his wheelchair on the second-floor walkway connecting his Stone House bedroom to Richmond Cottage. There are even ghostly pets reported from here. The paranormal is so intense that visitors have been known to leave in a panic and night security officers have quit. One Deering Estate security officer has said of his own experiences:
At least once a week I get poked or a feel the presence of something sneaking by me. When I’m on the phone, I sometimes catch a voice, other than the one I’m talking to, interrupt my calls. I never travel on my own when doing my nightly walk. And, more than once, I’ve seen weird shadows and things moving out of my line of sight. We have sleepovers, at least twice a year, and some of the guests can’t take all the paranormal activity… they call it quits in the middle of the night and simply bolt.
There are estimated to be at least 10 to 12 different spirits lurking here, making the estate a hotspot for paranormal investigations and it has been on pretty much every ghost hunting TV show there is. Ghost hunters visiting the Deering Estate have turned up all sorts of photographic evidence and one of the more prominent phenomena recorded here are the voices that show up on tape. It would appear that the ghosts of Deering Estate are particularly vocal, with an uncommonly large amount of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) picked up here. Paranormal investigator Colleen Kelley has picked up dozens of instances of spirits talking on tape here, saying of it:
We have one that says, 'Come home.' We have one that says, 'Send me. I'll go.' I have a female voice that says, 'I want some of you,' another that says 'Right.' A lot of the times they might even be speaking in full paragraphs. But we may able to only be able to pick up on a very small amount of what they're saying because it takes so much energy for them to actually speak.
Besides the usual tours of the Deering Estate, one of the most popular is the Deering Historic Ghost Tour, during which guides bring visitors to the most haunted areas and share stories of historic events and insights into the record of paranormal activity experienced by visitors and staff. What is going on with this place and why should it be so extremely haunted? Does it have something to do with the burial mound or is it something else? Whatever the case may be, if you want to find out for yourself just how weird this place can be, it may be worth booking a tour to check it out.