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Martello Gallery-Key West Art and Historical Museum

Martello Gallery-Key West Art and Historical Museum paranormal

Photo by: Marianne Donley
Location submitted by: sdonley on 08/04/2017
DBA Approved: Y

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PANICd#: 1955

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The Martello Gallery-Key West Art and Historical Museum, is a historic site. This is the current home of Robert the Doll.

3501 S Roosevelt Blvd
Key West , FL 33040
Phone: Address: 3501 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040
Open to the public: Yes

Lat: 24.5523542
Lon: -81.754843

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 1
Stories: 3
Claims: 4
Evidence: 0
Resources: 3
Retrievals: 8132
Vistor Rating: 0.0
Votes: 0

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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.

Construction began in 1862 by the U.S. Army on this Civil War Fort and Tower in order to provide extra protection for Key West and defend against the possibility of a Confederate sea assault

While Key West remained a Union-controlled island during the Civil War, the majority of Key West citizens supported the Confederacy. With such a rift, it is perhaps surprising that no battles took place on or around the island. Having no use for the Fort once the war was drawing to a close, Fort East Martello was abandoned in its unfinished state by the Army.

In 1950, the Key West Art & Historical Society, with its own army of volunteers, cleared away years of debris and dust to open Fort East Martello as its first museum. With continued community support, the Society restored this national landmark in accordance with its original 1860s design. Today, visitors can explore the preserved battlement's collection of relics from the Civil War, learn about the wrecking and cigar-manufacturing industries which shaped the Florida Keys, view the imaginative metal sculptures of Stanley Papio, as well as meet the Ghosts of East Martello, including the infamous Robert the Doll.

Added by: sdonley on 01/12/2018 DB#:350


Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.

We visited the Fort East Martello Museum at first, at night on the Ghosts and Graveyards bus tour. This fort is known to be a very big paranormal site. The tour takes you into a room where you hear the story and see the over 100 year old creepy Robert the Doll known to have paranormal activity/voodoo associated with it. We were handed an EMF meter to detect ghosts and were also encouraged to take pictures. Out of the 8 of us in our group, about half of us picked up movement on the EMF in and around Robert the Doll as well as outside in the old Fort grounds. After reviewing our photos shot at night, we saw many orbs flying around but we also captured ghost figures on camera of what appears to be soldiers. We were so fascinated by the fort, a couple of us went back the next day to view more artifacts and climb around the fort. It is a must see for ghost chasers and history buffs.

Added by: sdonley on 01/12/2018 DB#:1335

Undying Love - A Key West Love Story

Carl Tanzler, the self-proclaimed Count von Cosel, was a German-born radiologic technologist who moved to Key West in 1926 at the age of 39. A man with a mysterious and aggrandized past, he found employment as an x-ray technician at the Marine Hospital on the U.S. Navy base.

On April 22, 1930, a young, beautiful woman by the name of Elena Milagro Hoyos Mesa was escorted to the Marine Hospital for tests to determine the extent of her tuberculosis infection. On that ill-fated day, von Cosel was the technician assigned to draw her blood and perform her x-ray. Von Cosel recognized her as the beautiful dark-haired woman that had been revealed to him in childhood visions, the woman that was to become his true love. He instantly fell obsessively in love with Elena. Despite his attraction to her, he knew that Elena's prognosis was bad - she had a virulent form of tuberculosis and was not expected to live long. Von Cosel decided he alone could cure her using his alleged medical expertise.

While living in a small room at her parent's house, Elena was frequently visited by von Cosel. He showered her with expensive gifts and began to treat her illness with his "electrical therapy" machines. They were of no avail and Elena died on October 25, 1931, just days before Halloween and 18 months after they met. At the time of her death, she was 22 and he was 53 years old.

Von Cosel refused to believe that Elena's death was final. He had an elaborate tomb constructed in the Key West cemetery where he visited her almost nightly. Unable to accept that her beautiful body was deteriorating, and convinced that her death was a mere detail that he could reverse, he envisioned living with her for the rest of his life.

After months of planning, von Cosel removed Elena's body from the tomb and transferred it to his wingless airplane parked near the Marine Hospital. Since the location gave him direct access to his laboratory, he began the process of restoring his beloved to life with a wildly irrational combination of scientific technology and an enthusiasm that spilled over into insanity. Guided by the constant presence of her spirit's voice, von Cosel continued his work for more than two years. Twice he had to move his base of operations to avoid detection, finally moving Elena to a ramshackle building on Flagler Avenue. Unemployed and guarding his secrets, he dehydrated Elena and waited for the appropriate time to awaken her from her fatal sleep. Preparing for this event, he reconstructed her face using plaster, silk and wax, and to perpetuate the gaze he so adored, he embedded glass eyes in her head.

And so, they lived peacefully together as man and corpse until October 1940. However, Key West is a small town. Suspicion about von Cosel's activities led to rumors, and inevitably, rumors led to discovery, and ultimately to von Cosel's arrest for grave robbing and possessing a dead body. In a tiny room crowded with a homemade pipe organ and an elaborate bed, the sheriff found Elena dressed in a wedding gown, complete with lace, a veil and silk flowers. Her demented admirer had reconstructed the bulk of her body with her remaining flesh thoroughly mummified.

The local and national press fell all over themselves to cover the story. Key West was suddenly catapulted into the international limelight. Too bizarre to be believed, the story triggered throngs of curious visitors into town. To deal with the clamoring hordes, Elena's body was put on display at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home and was viewed by almost 7,000 people in the space of several days. Eventually, Elena's remains were dismembered, placed in a small metal box and buried at an undisclosed location.

Key West's local court sidestepped a trial by suggesting that the statute of limitation had been reached and dropped the charges against von Cosel. As relieved as he may have been at this turn of events, von Cosel could not comprehend that his "bride" would never be returned to him.

Released from jail, an embittered and uncomprehending von Cosel returned to his deserted shack on Flagler Avenue. His notoriety followed him, and for the next six months, he spent his days and nights recounting Elena's story to hundreds of people from all over the nation and abroad.

Carl Tanzler von Cosel finally left Key West to escape his notoriety and write his memoirs. The very day he departed the island, the tomb which he had erected for Elena in the Key West cemetery all those years ago mysteriously blew up. No one ever proved that von Cosel was responsible for the explosion, but it was generally accepted that he was guilty of it. He subsequently moved to Zephyrhills, Florida where he completed his memoirs, tinkered with his wingless airplane and other inventions and lived mainly from handouts from his family. He died unrepentant in 1952.

Added by: sdonley on 01/12/2018 DB#:1338

If you make fun of Robert or take his picture without asking permission, it is believed that Robert will curse you, or place some kind of bad juju on you. There are many, many, many visitors who actually believe in this, in fact, Robert receives sometimes 3-5 apology letter a day, asking for forgiveness from the curse. We were aware of this, when we visited Robert last summer. Before we took our pictures, we did ask permission, and we were very respective. Marianne actually left him a little loving message from DSGT and wished him well.

Now, as with pretty much any museum that you visit, you always leave through- that's right, the gift shop. Well, we were getting ready to leave, but of course we were looking around at different items we were going to purchase, and Shawn went up to the counter and started talking with a couple that was there waiting for something. It turns out, that they were made to stop and visit Robert again by their daughter, and they were waiting for her to come out of the museum, here is their full story as they reported it to Shawn, "Last year (2015) we were down here on a family trip. Our daughter was going to be a senior in high school, and it would probably be the last trip we could take as an entire family, before our oldest went off to college. Well, they kids wanted to stop and see Robert the Doll. They have heard about him, and thought it would be fun to stop since we drove by the museum anyways on our trip."

Well, when we stopped, our second oldest kind of got a little rude with Robert and was making fun of him and teasing the others. She was making faces at him and saying how the legend was just a big joke, etc. When we got back home, that is when her bad luck started. A week after we got home, she was out jogging and tripped and fell - she thought she just sprained her ankle, but she did much worse damage and pretty much could not participate in sports her whole senior year.

Next, right after school, her and one of her friends were in a car accident. Neither one got hurt, but her lost her license, and they pretty much could not drive to school each day, again, their senior year, they both had to run the school bus.

One month into school, her and her boyfriend had a huge falling out and broke up. They were dating since junior high school, but their relationship was now over, and for the first time the entire time she was in school, she began to struggle with her school work.

So, this year, before she left for college, she demanded that we bring her back down here to see Robert so that she could apologize in person before being so rude during our last visit.

She was in there talking with Robert while they were telling us the story.

Added by: sdonley on 01/12/2018 DB#:1340
S. Donley

Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact, and we will review and add your information.

Claim # Added Added By Claim
2628 01/12/2018 sdonley People have reported EMF spikes on KII meters around the area of Robert The Doll.
2629 01/12/2018 sdonley People have captured orbs and ghostly figures around the fort on their camera.
2636 01/12/2018 sdonley People have reported camera and equipment malfunctions.
2637 01/12/2018 sdonley People have recorded photos of apparitions around the fort.

Paranormal Evidence

Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.

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Additional Resources

This is a collection of Internet resources for this location. This section will house links to other websites that contain information related to history, claims, investigations, or even the location's website.

Wikipedia Entry
Added: 01/12/2018 By: sdonley
Wikipedia entry for this location.
Robert the Doll - East Martello Museum
Added: 01/12/2018 By: sdonley
Information on Robert The Doll
Ghosts and Gravestones.
Added: 01/12/2018 By: sdonley
Paranormal information relating to this location.

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