Pensacola Lighthouse guides ships safely into harbor, but is it also harboring hauntings?
Paranormal Claims at Pensacola Lighthouse
- A spirit named Samuel supposedly resides in the tower, appearing as an apparition and grabbing at female visitors
- The ghost of a former slaved named Thomas is reportedly seen in the basement of the building
- The spirit of Michaela Ingraham, wife of a former light keeper, is said to roam the halls and appear as an apparition
- Michaela's ghost also reportedly throws objects through the light keeper's house and call out the names of visitors
- The spirit of a little girl is known to live and play in what is now known as the 'bloody bedroom'
The Storied Past of Pensacola Lighthouse
Perched on a rocky bluff on the southern shores of Pensacola Bay, Florida just south of the Sherman Field in Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum stands with the same reverie it has always had through its long career of shepherding ships safely in and out of the bay.
The looming black and white obelisk is paired with an oddly inviting keeper’s house, complete with a wraparound porch and quaint white picket fencing. But, over the picket fence and beyond the blinding light of the tower’s Fresnel lens, some say shadows lurk, ghosts of light keepers past. Could it be that spirits as well as ships have been guided by the navigational beams of the Pensacola Lighthouse?
Timeline of Pensacola Lighthouse's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Pensacola Lighthouse through the years
The Pensacola Lighthouse known today was not the first lighthouse on Pensacola Bay. After the US took control of Florida in 1821, the government placed a lightship, Aurora Borealis, at the mouth of the bay to manage traffic. But this was a temporary solution. Congress approved funds for a lighthouse on Pensacola Bay in 1823.
The first lighthouse was built there the next year, standing just 40 feet tall. Over the years, ship captains frequently complained that the light was too dim. By the late 1850s, a replacement lighthouse was ordered.
A new site was selected a half-mile west, where a taller lighthouse was built. The new structure was 159 feet tall and included a Fresnel lens to allow brighter light. A few years later, the Civil War broke out and the lighthouse became a focal point in Florida.
Originally under Union control, the lighthouse fell into Confederate hands after Florida seceded. In late 1861, a battle between Confederates at the lighthouse and Union forces nearby sent cannonballs into the lighthouse. But, when the smoke cleared, the light still shined.
Confederates abandoned the lighthouse in May, 1862, when the Union retook control. Shortly after the war, the lighthouse took on its black-and-white color scheme; black on top to avoid blending in with clouds, and white on bottom to avoid blending in with trees. Additionally, a new keeper’s house was built, which still stands today.
Over the following century, the Pensacola Lighthouse served the Pensacola Bay dutifully. Its last civilian keeper retired in 1953, replaced by Coast Guard keepers. The lighthouse was automated in 1965.
After automation, discussions were held about tearing down the old keeper’s quarters despite it being listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. Luckily, no such plans were completed, and between 1992 and 1995, extensive renovations were done on the keeper’s quarters to ensure a long life for the historically significant structure.
In 2006, the Pensacola Lighthouse Association was established to create the Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. Over the decade that followed, the association and museum organization made numerous additional renovations to the property to bring it back to its full historical greatness. Work continues to this day.
But, as throngs of tourists come and go, many have come away saying spirits inhabit the old lighthouse and keeper’s quarters.
Pensacola Lighthouse’s Bloody Bedroom
A room in the keeper’s quarters is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl. The bedroom in question was the place where a woman once died during childbirth.
This bedroom is now famously known as the ‘bloody bedroom.’ The little girl’s spirit is known to play in that bedroom and can frequently be heard and seen frolicking around the room.
Pensacola Lighthouse’s Haunted Basement
In the basement, a spirit known as Thomas is often encountered. Thomas is supposedly the ghost of a former slave. His phantom is said to be identifiable solely by his height, as he stood over seven feet tall in life.
Now, his looming apparition can still reportedly be seen lingering around the basement of the lighthouse.
Pensacola Lighthouse Haunted by History
The numerous ghost stories from the lighthouse built the building’s local reputation to the point that it was visited by the popular TV show Ghost Hunters, as well as a crew for a Travel Channel series on haunted lighthouses.
Ghost tours remain a popular offering from the museum, and past paranormal investigations of the location have identified six total ghosts that are said to reside at the lighthouse. So, if you see a strange light during your visit to the Pensacola Lighthouse, maybe it’s just from the lighthouse itself, or maybe it’s the paranormal glow of a spirit guiding you through your tour.