The longer I live in Florida, the more I'm learning fast that it is brimming of historic, ancient places with all kinds of history and legends just begging for people to learn about them. One such gem I recently discovered would be the Oldest Wooden School House in St. Augustine FL.
The name "Oldest Wooden School House" really suits this place, as it is one of the oldest buildings in all of St. Augustine, and St. Augustine is old, old.
Why is the Oldest Wooden School House considered to be so haunted?
Dating back to the 18th Century, the Oldest Wooden School House on St. George Street in St. Augustine was once a prominent school for colonial-era children. Originally a humble one-room building with a small kitchen built by the Genoply family.
Juan Genoply became the first teacher at the Oldest Wooden School House. Once Juan married and started a family, a second story was added to the building in 1788 so that he could live above the school. A "dungeon" for misbehaving kids was also added, and the school became co-ed--one of the first during the time.
And, minus the large chain-link fence added in 1937 to protect against intense Florida weather, the school has been preserved as much as possible and transformed into a museum where guests can go back in time.
Pretty neat. But it's time to talk about what I'm really interested in: the supposed hauntings.
There have been many reports of paranormal activity coming from the schoolhouse. Guests who've visited have claimed to see a woman in old-fashioned clothes and a bun in the window, waiting for her husband to return and the daughter that passed away. Different people say different things when it comes to identifying who the woman in the window is.
A psychic even visited the schoolhouse once and claimed to make contact with the spirit of the woman in the window. The spirit told the psychic she still mourned the loss of her young daughter.
Other stories speculate that she is Juan Genoply's wife, watching over the spirits of the school children. Others say she's waiting for Juan to come home. Another rumor says she could be the grieving mother of a child who died in the dungeon beneath the stairs.
Other stories say that Juan, the "Old Schoolmaster" is still at the schoolhouse. Many claims of a light moving in the building when no one has lived there for years surfaced.
It's also said that if you listen close at night you may hear children giggling, especially near the old play yard. Reports also made a note that no hostile encounters with the children occurred, and they appear friendly.
Can you take a ghost tour of the Oldest Wooden School House?
The good news is yes, you can! There are a variety of tours offered by the schoolhouse and various companies around Sarasota. During the day, the museum is open to self-guided and guided tours, but if you want a ghost tour, you'll have to outsource. Fortunately, there's an excellent company offering a specific ghost tour of the schoolhouse. Ghost City Tours offers their services Mon-Fri.
For families, the "Ghosts of Saint Augustine" tour is highly recommended on sites like Tripadvisor and proudly states on their website that they are "St. Augustine's #1 Haunted Tour". This tour is likely to sell out, but no worries. There are several other companies offering tours for reasonable prices (roughly around $25 a person on average between companies from what I can see).
The majority of the tours are walking tours of around 1-2 hours, but if you'd like to sit, Ghosts and Graveyards is another top company that offers trolly ghost tours. I can't wait to go out to St. Augustine and learn about all the rich, ghostly history for myself. My only question is: Who's coming with me?