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A Pleasantly Haunted House

Charles Segui, a Minorcan whose ancestors came here in the middle 1700s, built the house in 1910. He was not a wealthy man. He had a bookstore down on St. George Street and also raised carrier pigeons as a hobby. One day a friend of Henry Flagler stopped in Mr. Segui's bookstore. He was a publisher from New York and had heard about Mr. Segui's pigeons. Charles took him to his house and showed the man his pigeons. The publisher bought the entire lot of them and planned to ship them to Cuba to send messages back and forth. Sadly, the ship the pigeons were on sank and all the pigeons were lost. But, luckily for Charles, he had enough money to buy a piece of land in the new Abbott tract, just north of town, and to build the fine Victorian home now known as Ancient City Inn.

Apparently, Charles really loved his home because he's still here. He was a very methodical and punctilious man and rode his bicycle back and forth from his store every day at the same time. And every day at two o'clock in the afternoon, he would rush home, run upstairs to change from his business suit in to his work clothes, and feed his pigeons. Then, he'd change back to his business suit, come downstairs to eat his lunch, and peddle back to the store. And to this day, precisely at two o'clock, the front door will often fly open, and a big gray mist will fly upstairs, stomping loudly on the steps. The noise is so loud that the first time it happened, Will, who was back in his workshop, came running out to see what happened. Carri was sitting open-mouthed in the parlor, hardly believing what she'd just seen and heard. The stairs are carpeted now, but when Charles owned the house the steps were bare wood, and the sound, of course, is his footfalls running up the wooden stairs.

Charles's daughter, Martha Lee, lived in the house until 1989, when she sold it to a couple who turned it into a bed and breakfast in 2000. During the negotiations, Carri asked about ghosts. The previous owners were evasive. After the closing they did admit that, "jewelry occasionally gets played with. There is a playful ghost – but be careful who you tell that to!"

What the previous owners didn't know was that Carri is a spiritualist medium. "I was born in the hospital and brought home to my grandmother's séance parlor," she says. Will, too, is a practicing medium. “We travel around the world studying and teaching. So we were both very aware of all the activity taking place in the house.”

The couple’s first experience occurred right after taking the over Inn and beginning the renovations. Whenever they went into the back bedroom upstairs in the northeast corner of the house, sorrow would surround them. It was a nondescript room painted a drab green, and they both felt a great sadness in the room – so they began calling it the Sad Room. Carri also felt what she described as a military feeling, a certain stiffness. In any case, the energy was sad and lonely. After some weeks the Sad Room became the Colonel's Room, because of the military connection Carri felt. And so it remained for several months. Whenever Carri went into the room she began itching as if she was wearing a wool uniform with all the buttons buttoned.

One day Carri, in a whimsical mood, decided to paint the Colonel's Room pink, a very feminine "foo-foo" pink, put a flower border around the walls. The sadness immediately went away – it became a happy room.

The Colonel's Room

The year or so after, when the room had long been renamed the Colonel's Room, the owners were talking to Giselle next door at restaurant "Le Pavillon" and Carri asked her about the people who had built the house. She had heard that the previous owners had bought the house from a spinster named Martha Lee.

Giselle said, "You're right, Martha Lee was the daughter of the original owner, and she had been an old maid until the day she died. She was around eighty-nine, I think. She never married. But, Martha Lee had a sad story. When she was in her twenties, her father died, and she and her mother, Maude, had to take in boarders to make ends meet. Well, one of the boarders was this man who Martha Lee described as very handsome. They put him in the back corner bedroom, the one that opens onto the back porch right next to Martha Lee's room. Martha Lee soon fell in love with him, and one day Maude caught them together in a compromising position in Martha Lee's room, which also opens on the same back porch. Well, puritanical old Maude was outraged. It was the 1940s, so you can imagine. She threw the man out of the house and told him never to come back. Apparently, he moved to California, and Martha Lee never saw him again. She mourned for him the rest of her life."

Carri asked, "What was the man's name?"

Giselle replied, "You know, that's funny. Martha Lee never called him by name. All she ever said was that the only true love of her life was 'the colonel.'"

Before that, although the owners had not known the story, the had been calling that bedroom the Colonel's Room for almost a year.

Martha Lee's room is the most haunted room in the Inn, and the most popular. There are all kinds of stories about it. There is an oil painting at the head of the queen-sized canopy bed of a beautiful young woman wearing a Victorian dress and a huge Victorian hat in honor of Martha Lee. Some people actually call her the “other lady of the house.” They bring presents for her, and all the hats that are hanging in the room have been left by guests to honor Martha Lee. Butterscotch candy – Martha Lee's favorite – is kept in a dish that belonged to her for guests to enjoy.

Lots of times when no one else is in the house and the current owners are downstairs, they will hear the bed squeaking, and they always laugh. They assume that since old Maude isn't around anymore, so Martha Lee and the Colonel are up there together again. There are also people who believe that Martha Lee casts love spells on couples in that room. Couples have reported that when they were lying in bed, they feel someone pushing them together and lovingly tucking them in at night. It is said that if a couple is having marital problems, they have but to come and stay in Martha Lee's room! Along with the stories of romance, there are also doors that open and shut, and the doorknobs that turn by them selves that are reported by guests.

Martha Lee's Room

Because the Inn is so pleasantly haunted, many paranormal research groups come through. In fact, not long ago, a big group came in to do research on several locations and stayed with us. One man in the team was rather skeptical. He had heard stories about the Inn and wanted Martha to scare him. Carri told him to be careful about what he wished for, then checked him in and showed him up to Martha Lee's Room.

A few minutes after Carri got downstairs, she heard a crash, and the man came storming down. He was upset. He had sat on the bed and it collapsed. "What kind of beds do you have in this place, anyway?" he asked. Will assured him that the beds were fine. Hundreds of people had slept in the bed in that room, and it had never before fallen apart. Carri warned him again about not wishing for things he wasn't prepared to handle. Then, Will went up and put the bed back together, tightened everything and straightened the slats under the box springs. Not five minutes later, the bed crashed down again.

This time when the man came down he was even more upset. "Scared yet?" Carri asked him.

"I'm not scared; I'm mad. I'm not sleeping on that broken bed. I want another room."

They moved him over to the Colonel's Room, and everything went well the rest of the afternoon. Later that night, long after we had gone to bed, someone started pounding on the front door. Will got up and answered it. It was the skeptical guy from the Colonel's Room. He was in his pajamas, and his feet were bare. And he wasn't so skeptical anymore.

"Now, I'm scared," he said. "I just went out on the back porch to have a cigarette before going to bed, and the door slammed shut. It locked on me. I couldn't get back in."

That door doesn't lock without a key. The key was in the room, and no one else was there. Carri again chided the man about wishing for supernatural experiences. He began apologizing to her, but she said, "Don't apologize to me. Apologize to Martha Lee. Tell her you're sorry and now you know she's there. Be a little more respectful and she will welcome you." He did, and the rest of the weekend went without incident.

Recently, a couple was staying in Martha Lee's Room. In the middle of the night the woman woke her husband up and complained that the people upstairs were making too much noise. The husband smiled, "Go back to sleep, love. There is no upstairs." Things like that happen often, but, except for the guy who wanted to be scared, no one has ever had any bad experiences. In fact, all of the inn’s guests say they feel protected and surrounded by love, like they were being watched over.

And who wouldn't feel that way with Martha Lee tucking you in at night?

Visit the Ancient City Inn's website by clicking this link!

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