Ever since moving to Florida a little less than a year ago, one thing I've realized more than anything is that this is a state of "oldest." The oldest lighthouse, the oldest school, and the oldest government building. Even the oldest bar. And that bar would be none other than The Palace Saloon in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
Located at 117 Centre Street in Fernandina Beach in the famed Historic District, the Palace Saloon opened to the public in 1903, making it the oldest bar in all of Florida.
The saloon wasn't even a saloon at first. A man named Louis G. Hirth bought the Prescott building built in 1878 and turned it into the Palace. Back in those days, 1880-1910, the docks were poppin'. Ships came from all over, and to meet the demand of thirsty sailors, the town had over twenty pubs available, but only one stood out as unique.
Known as the "Shipcaptain's Bar," the Palace became popular amongst the sailors. Today, the magic of the Palace Saloon is still strong, enchanting people from all over who want to see the oldest bar in Florida for themselves. According to the many positive reviews left on TripAdvisor, some come for the history, and just to say they did, others claim it is a "must stop" for the Pirate Punch alone.
Yes, I agree that a historic bar like this is pretty cool and worth a stop in. But while its status in history is impressive, none of it interests me. I want to know about ghosts.
I've said it before, and I'll continue to repeat it, with old buildings, there are always stories. And this is the oldest bar in Florida, so you know messed up stuff has happened here. Allegedly.
Guests reported running into a ghost named "Uncle Charlie the bartending ghost ."Charlie was an employee who spent many years working at the bar. The man even lived there. Stories from customers say they witnessed the "back room's door opening and closing without anyone around."
The saloon, however, seems very happy Charlie is still around. Not only is a picture of Charlie hung up on a wall, but after they renovated due to the fire, they added a pizza restaurant and a sports bar. Of course, Charlie was the mascot. He is also a highly featured part of the ghost tour given to guests. Amelia Island Ghost Tours provides tours, and the website often offers current tours to those who want a little more fright.
If you're not into the ghost side of things but still want the history, The Palace Saloon is a regular stop on the Amelia Island Museum of History's walking tour, which happens every week in Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach.
I can't wait to see this amazing bar for myself. If you're coming from Orlando like me, it's about a three-hour drive (at least this is what Maps says), but having a drink at the oldest bar in Florida is worth it, right? Consider the visit "getting in touch with history." And if you happen to see Uncle Charlie tending some bar, it could be the alcohol. Or not.
My only question is: Who's coming with me?