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St Paul's Episcopal Church and Cemetery

St Paul's Episcopal Church and Cemetery paranormal

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

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PANICd#: 1960

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Grand Episcopal church with 19th-century history, a wood-beam ceiling & stained-glass windows.

401 Duval St
Key West , FL 33040
Phone: (305) 296-5142
Open to the public: Yes

Lat: 24.5569285
Lon: -81.80316529999999

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 1
Stories: 1
Claims: 4
Evidence: 0
Resources: 1
Retrievals: 8548
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.

St. Paul's Church was formed by an official act of the City Council of Key West. In a petition to the bishop of New York, the City council requested a priest be sent and the Parish of St. Paul's be established. In 1831, the council gave notice of a public meeting to establish an Episcopal Church, and a committee was appointed.

The first rector was the Reverend Sanson K. Brunot, who arrived December 23, 1832. He held the first service on Christmas Day 1832 in the County Courthouse on Jackson Square. That same day the congregation signed an "Act of Association" of the Episcopal Congregation in Key West to be called St. Paul's Church. The first Vestry was elected April 8, 1833, and Rev. Brunot became a permanent house guest of Vestryman William Whitehead, as there was no rectory or church building. Land for a church site was given by the widow of John William Charles Fleming in 1832 with the only stipulation that her husband's remains stay where they were. He is still buried on the grounds, but the actual site is unknown.

The original church made of coral rock, was built in 1838-39. The building, when completed, was 38 x 58 feet, and the total cost of construction was $6,500. This first building was totally destroyed by a hurricane on October 11, 1846. The second church was a wooden structure measuring 28 x 66 feet. Services were held in this building on June 30, 1848, and the church was consecrated on January 4, 1851, by the Right Reverend C.E. Gadsden, Bishop of South Carolina.

In 1857 a Rectory was erected on the corner of Duval and Eaton Street, facing Eaton. The Rev. Osgood E. Herrick was the first in a long line of rectors to call it home. The church was growing steadily, and the seating capacity of 350 was becoming inadequate. This is when St. Peter's was established (1875), and the Spanish Mission of St. John's followed.

The second church was destroyed in the Great Fire of Key West in March 1886. By some good fortune the Rectory survived undamaged. Rebuilding the church began immediately, and the third church was completed in 1887. Constructed of wood, it stood in the center of the block facing Eaton Street. It measured approximately 58 x 98 feet.

In 1890, the Vestry voted to purchase a chime of bells. Once installed, the first chime of bells within Florida was inaugurated on Palm Sunday morning, March 22, 1891, at 10:00 a.m.

On October 11, 1909, another disaster struck, and the church was destroyed by a hurricane. The parish hall (completed in 1904) and the Rectory survived the storm and were used for services. Plans for a new church were approved in 1911, which would be constructed of concrete. The church would be located at the corner of Duval and Eaton Streets. This required the moving of the Rectory to its current location in 1914. The first service in the current building was held June 8, 1919. During this time, many of the beautiful stained glass windows were ordered, and installation began in 1920. The organ arrived in 1931 in time for Christmas services. ​

A major restoration of the church began in 1991 to save the building from collapse. The concrete used in the initial construction had been mixed with seawater and beach sand, causing the steel reinforcing within the walls and columns to split. Work was complete in 1993 at a cost of nearly one million dollars.

Today the church continues to stand as a beacon of light and hope within the diverse cultural community of Key West. The church is open daily for prayer, meditation and visitation. Many concerts and other community events take place here, and St. Paul's plays a positive role in the community both artistically and spiritually. Thirty-three priests have served St. Paul's as rector and several others as interim priests. The current rector, The Rev. Larry D. Hooper, came to St. Paul's in June of 2009. Say something interesting about your business here.

Added by: sdonley on 12/25/2017 DB#:345


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

For those interested in the paranormal, the cemetery offers a totally different experience. It is here that many have had mysterious and even frightening encounters - for this is a place where spirits roam, looking to haunt all who visit.

The most well known haunt of St. Paul's Church Cemetery is that of a man in 19th century attire who appears as a flimsy white vapor. Many believe that it is the spirit of John Fleming who seems upset. Is it because his grave site was disturbed so many times throughout the years by all the reconstructions? Nobody knows for sure. But his apparition has startled many.

Another spirit that seems to roam the graveyard is a Sea Captain who appears to take great pleasure in frightening visitors. And beware of the ghost of a man who was legendary for driving the pirates out of Key West. His spirit is angry and ready to taunt - and those who have encountered his apparition say that even on a day when the weather is calm, violent winds come rushing through a tree that sits right next to his grave.

The Sea Captain and the angry man are not the only ghosts that linger in this quaint graveyard. The spirits of several children have also been seen and heard - particularly near the statue of an angel in the cemetery. The children were sent to a fiery death when a pastor attempted to burn down the church. He discovered that his wife and the deacon were having an affair and went into a jealous rage. Not realizing the children were still inside the church, he set fire to the place, trapping and killing the children. Their spirits have been seen huddling around the angel; and many have heard their voices. Perhaps they find comfort by staying there and being in the presence of an angel?

A visit to this historic church and cemetery is indeed an experience - if not to simply enjoy its beauty, but also to explore the possibility that ghosts really do exist.

Added by: sdonley on 12/25/2017 DB#:1329

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
2612 12/26/2017 sdonley An apparition of a man dressed in 19th century attire has appeared as a flimsy white vapor.
2613 12/26/2017 sdonley An apparition of a sea captain has appeared and frightened visitors.
2614 12/26/2017 sdonley Another spirit of a man who was responsible for running pirates out of key west protects the graveyard. Violent winds rush through a tree that is next to his grave.
2615 12/26/2017 sdonley Several children have been seen and heard around the statue of the angel.

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.

Key West Ghosts
Added: 12/26/2017 By: sdonley
Website about paranormal for this location.

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