Ghostly Encounters at the
- The ghost of a Seminole girl is said to wander the house, coaxed into manifesting with gifts of candy
- Employees going to the attic report feeling a phantom hand keeping them from falling, supposedly the spirit of Ivy Stranahan
- A perfume smell is said to follow the spirit of Ivy Stranahan throughout the house
- The apparition of Ivy's sister is often seen carrying an infant through the house
- The phantom of Ivy's father is also said to reside at the home, tossing books around and causing cold spots
- Frank Stranahan's spirit is said to still reside at the home, and protect it by scaring off trespassers
- Ivy's brother is another frequently reported spirit, who is known to flirt with women and scare off men
- Frank's ghost is sometimes witnessed jumping into the nearby New River
Stranahan House’s Haunted History
On a small plot of land on the shore of the New River channel, fit tightly around high-rise condominiums and urban sprawl, sits a quaint wood-frame house that looks completely out of place. But in fact, the old Stranahan House settled beside The Cheesecake Factory is the oldest home still standing in all of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Stranahan House’s long riverside porches make for perfect boat watching, and its meticulously maintained interior could teach something new to even the most learned Floridian historians. But could it be that the Stranahan family that built this home is still protecting it, and their lasting family legacy, from beyond the grave?
Timeline of Stranahan House's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Stranahan House through the years
When Frank and Ivy Stranahan built the Stranahan House in 1901, it was actually a trading post and community hall for the unincorporated town that would one day become Fort Lauderdale. While the Stranahan’s worked to instigate growth in the area, the trading post served as a focal point for their passions and for fostering a sense of community in the settlement. While Frank used the building for trade, Ivy used the community space and her background as a schoolteacher to build relationships with the nearby Seminole tribe of Native Americans.
Together, the Stranahans fostered ongoing growth in business, education, Native American rights, and women’s suffrage in the town. By the time Fort Lauderdale was incorporated, the Stranahan family was one of the most prominent in the area. Frank soon became deeply involved in the real estate market in Fort Lauderdale and donated large amounts of land to encourage growth. But, the good times were not destined to last. In 1926, the Florida land and real estate market fell into ruin, and took the fortunes of Frank Stranahan with it.
Coupled with the costs of two large hurricanes during this time, Frank ended up nearly destitute. Lost in a spiral of depression, Frank had a breakdown and was sent to a mental institution. Hoping a return home would do him better, Ivy brought her husband back to their riverside home. But, on May 22, 1929, Frank Stranahan tethered an iron grate to himself and leapt into the New River, just a few steps out from the front door of the house he and Ivy had built together.
Ivy mourned her husband for years and did what she could to keep herself afloat and retain ownership of the house. She rented extra rooms to travelers and leased the lower floor to a series of restaurants. Additionally, Ivy continued her long-time advocacy on behalf of the Seminole tribe and worked with the Friends of the Florida Seminoles group. Ivy Stranahan died in 1971 at age 90, and left her home to the Seventh Day Adventists, who successfully lobbied to have the home added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The city of Fort Lauderdale bought the house in 1979, restored it to its historic look, and opened it up to the public in 1984. Today, the Historic Stranahan House Museum hosts more than 10,000 visitors each year, and many claim the family who built both the house and the city of Fort Lauderdale still reside in the home as friendly, if active, ghosts.
Does Ivy’s Ghost Linger in the Stranahan House?
The spirit of Ivy Stranahan is one of the most common specters reported in the house. Many employees who have encountered her ghost say she is a kind, protective entity around the property. Employees who ascend to the attic or need to access the roof often say they feel a presence escorting them through the perilous areas of the attic and roof, and they sometimes feel the cold touch of a phantom hand keeping them from falling or getting hurt.
Ivy’s spirit is also said to leave a curious perfume scent wherever she goes, and the scent is now notorious around the home for indicating where her ghost is lingering. But Ivy Stranahan is not the only kindly spirit said to walk the halls of the old home.
Child Spirit in the Stranahan House
The spirit of a young Seminole girl is often reported as well, with the story being that Ivy took the girl in after she collapsed suddenly, only to have the child die when Ivy was tending to her. Now the child’s spirit wanders the house and plays with guests and is known for having a sweet tooth.
Visitors claim the Seminole child spirit is most encouraged to manifest when presented with a handful of candy. Additionally, Ivy’s sister Pink is also known to be a resident spirit. Pink lived in the home during pregnancy, but ended up going into labor prematurely, and both she and her child died. Now, her apparition is frequently reported in the home, often cradling a baby.
The Stranahan House’s Grouchy Ghosts
Despite the kindness of many spirits in the Stranahan House, not every ghost is known for their hospitality. Frank Stranahan’s spirit is a regular fixture of the home as well, and though he mostly just supervises employees in the form of palpable presences and looming apparitions, he has been known not to take kindly to homeless locals camping on the home’s wide porches.
Homeless people who have sheltered on the porch in the past have reported being chased off by loud crashes from within, and sometimes even by Frank Stranahan’s shadowy figure shooing them off. His shadow figure has also sometimes been seen leaping into the New River.
The grumpy ghost of Augustus Cromartie, Ivy’s father, is also known around the house. He is supposedly responsible for books being tossed off of shelves, and for sudden cold spots arising in the gift shop.
People often suggest Augustus throws books around to voice his displeasure with all the visitors encroaching on the home. Ivy’s brother, Albert, is also a commonly reported spirit, who is known to both flirt with women who tour the building and tell others forcefully to get out.