Ghostly Encounter @ GhoSt Augustine's Gift Shop
Genovar Opera House was located at 121 St. George St. which is now known as 123 St. George St. Now as you see it, it is a small hallway of quaint little shops where our GhoSt Augustine Gift Shop is located. Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, before the 1914 fire, it was a 3 story building featuring the ground floor full of different stores, and fabulous Shoe Gallery was located on the 3rd floor, but on the 2nd floor was the Genovar Opera House. Tyrone Power Sr. had his acting debut here at the Genovar in November 1886 and Frederick Douglas spoke to a crowd of over 700 people in 1889.
The building that housed the Genovar Opera House burned on the April 2, 1914 fire which started in the Florida House and was allegedly caused by rats chewing on matches. It raged through the central part of town destroying many prominent buildings including the Magnolia Hotel.
I can just envision what it would have looked like since there are no known photos of the opera house. I can see the hustle and bustle of people getting ready for a show and the patrons taking their seats and waiting anxiously for the show to begin.
There have been several strange occurrences reported of people seeing or hearing things in the hallway, especially when they are in the building alone. Our GhoSt Augustine Gift Shop is located here and is usually the last store to close at night. Needless to say that is when things seem to happen, but not always. There have been a few times when I have been in the building all alone bright and early in the morning and strange things have happened.
The most recent experience was early this month (May 2011). I went over to the ghost shop to pick up a few things for our other store Beerhammer’s. I unlocked the main door to the hallway and since it was so early in the morning and no one else was there I locked the door behind me. As I started down the hall to our store I caught a glimpse of a woman in one of the display windows to one of the other stores. Her hair was pinned up tightly atop her head and she had a light colored dress with a high collar. First thought I had was, I know I locked the door behind me so how did someone get in? I turned around and no one was behind me and when I turned back around facing the display case the woman smiled very peacefully at me, nodded her head, and vanished! Not a surprise to me at all actually, especially in this town and in this line of work. I have heard in the past a woman humming and seen a shadow walk down the hallway. Could this be the same woman? I can’t help but wonder who she is and if she is attached to the opera house because she does appear from that period. I just wish I knew who she was!!
Manager, GhoSt Augustine