The Vinoy is one of the places classified as haunted in downtown St. Petersburg. Aymer Vinoy Laughner, one of the money families local to the area, is renown as its builder. The structure cost 1.5 million dollars and was constructed in 9 months, opening in 1925. It is fondly referred to as "The Pink Lady" by residents. The Vinoy went into decline by the 1970s and was revitalized in the 1990s. Its reopening signaled the revitalization of the downtown area.
Reports of ghostly phenomena are quite numerous. From "Ghost Stories St Petersburg Florida" (by Tim Reeser):
* Reports of the ghost of a woman dressed in white is seen on the 5th floor. No one is quite sure who she is. Some believe that she is the wife of Gene Elliott, who managed the hotel. He went through a nasty divorce proceeding, during which his wife "fell" from the back porch, hit her head and died. The act was claimed to be murder by his maid, who said that she saw the event. The maid, however, "went on a one-way trip to Europe" and was never seen again. Some speculated that she was also killed, or that she, instead, is the actual ghost at the hotel.
*A "nefarious gentleman" has also been reported. Baseball players who stay at the hotel believe that this ghost may be Babe Ruth, who did stay in St. Petersburg quite a bit. A second guess is that the ghost may be Mr. Williamson, the man who originally owned the land that Laughner bought to build the hotel.
From "Florida's Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore Vol 3" (Greg Jenkins):
*Another spirit, sometimes called "the formal ghost" because he is dressed in a tuxedo, haunts the hotel's elevators. Ghost makes himself known by playing with guests -- when a lone gentleman boards the elevator to go to his floor, all number keys light up, then go out, except for the number 5. The passenger is taken to the 5th floor. When the doors open, the passenger finds an empty hallway.
*Lady in white: Possibly Elsie Elliott (socialite pushed down a flight of stairs by her husband, Eugene Elliott).
*There is a story that the Elliott's maid, also a contender for the "Lady in White", may have visited Babe Ruth. When he didn't return her love for a meaningful relationship, she may have killed herself, or died of a broken heart. (Author admits that this story is not well substantiated).
Word of mouth: Both stories tie the Lady in White to the elevator trickery. The rumor is that the elevator will stop on its own at the 5th floor and that there is a rustling of clothing that can be heard when the doors open. No one is ever visibly present, however.
From "Ghost Stories of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Pinellas County: Tales from a Haunted Peninsula" (Deborah Frethem):
*Maid's name is Annie Gadsden.
*Baseball players report seeing a strange figure move about, and being held down in their beds by an unseen force.
*Figures are sighted in the tower, though it is always locked.
*One woman sitting on the veranda saw a rocking chair rocking by itself. She went over and touched the chair, only to find that it was still warm, as if someone had just left it.
From "Ghost Stories of Clearwater & St. Petersburg" (Kim Cool):
*Scott Williamson (2003) saw the "nefarious gentleman" ghost. One guess is that it might have been the spirit of Karl Abbott, the hotel’s first manger.
*There is said to be the sound of the orchestra playing in the ballroom. Suggested spirit: Paul Whiteman and his orchestra (see personal experience below. I'm not sure if the two are directly related, but they well could be).
*I was visiting the hotel on an errand. While there, I mentioned that I did paranormal investigations. A hotel staff member asked me to walk through the ballroom on the first floor. She said that there was "something" but didn't elaborate. She wanted me to go through the ballroom first. I had no equipment, so I walked through with just myself as instrument. I felt a very odd sensation -- as if I were being followed and watched -- when I crossed the stage area where the orchestra would play. I thought that it might be suggestion (location), but this sensation was so strong that I actually jumped off the stage (carefully) at one point. I had to make myself cross it the second time I tried. Only when I went back to the staff person and told her of my experience did she get excited -- many smelled a mysterious perfume and felt the sensation of being watched intently as they walked across the stage. Cold breezes and spots were also reported. (2008/2009)
*I was present on a ghost tour where a group of psychics claimed that the whole hotel was haunted and that a giant party was going on. Ghosts were located throughout the hotel, particularly out on the roof and tower areas, and were in the act of dancing, celebrating, and having a good time.
*One person told me of a time slip that she experienced. She had gone into the bar area and noticed that there were beautiful murals all along the top of the wall/ceiling. She left the area briefly and returned only to find no murals -- the wall was blank. She went to the bartender, described the murals and asked what happened, He told her that there were none since he had been there but showed her a book containing photographs of the hotel through time. An old image of the bar showed the murals that she saw, yet these murals had been covered up (though still existed) since the renovations. [Note: Was this a time slip phenomenon?]
Visit, 5-1-10 (May Day!) (4 - 6:30 p.m.)
Today, Mom and I celebrated a friend's birthday with iced tea and desserts at the Vinoy. They knew of my interest in the haunted history and so I was given time to wander through the hotel on my own. With the research above, I opted to go to as many elevators as possible to find the gentleman ghost, and to the 5th floor. I wandered with my EMF meter, camera, and cell phone across the the veranda, and, finally, into the bar area.
The Vinoy had relatively low EMF, though the a/c was on. The EMF meter registered .6 to 1.5 on the 0-3 scale. There were no spikes. The only unusual aspect to the investigation was that the 5th floor was very warm. My camera batteries also died, though they were not new. However, by room 504, I did feel suddenly very dizzy. I snapped a photo with no resulting phenomena in the image.
Elevators: No luck from either the gentleman ghost or mysterious movement to the 5th floor.
The ballroom was blocked off for a wedding so I was unable to walk through there today.
The veranda was heavily occupied and no unusual readings or activity occurred.
New story, posted with permission: 4.23.15:
I got a new story on the Vinoy ghosts tonight, too. A person who came to the art show works there, and was told by a former employee (who claimed sensitivity to ghosts) that there is a male entity in the bathrooms down by the spa area. Apparently, it was a holding room for corpses or had something to do with the military. He was harmless. She also recalled something about knocking in a locker area. Lastly, Vinoy employees are told about the haunted room that they rent out. (My guess is because of the notoriety and that they likely have a special package for that room).
Elevator with button panel. No luck with the gentleman ghost.
Here is a 1930's video of St. Pete that includes images of the Vinoy:
See what you think. I MISS the old style of dress. Now I know what The Shadow saw when he came to Florida (and he did in at least 3 novels).
11/12/14: A person that I work with told me today that her sister works at the Vinoy. Apparently, the elevators do act up there -- they won't leave a certain floor (or floors). The elevator doors will close, then open again like someone has pushed the button after the doors closed....but there is no one there....happens on many occasions.
8/11/15:Went to Vinoy Spa for pedicure. Got a bit of a scoop on two reported stories. Second story that I got at the Vinoy....apparently, one of the managers or coaches of the Red Socks hates staying in the old part of the Vinoy because he feels each time he is there, he is haunted. (This fits with other stories of Red Socks payers feeling an ominous presence).
Second story that I got at the Vinoy....apparently, one of the managers or coaches of the Red Socks hates staying in the old part of the Vinoy because he feels each time he is there, he is haunted. (This fits with other stories of Red Socks payers feeling an ominous presence).
Additional research on the alleged "Lady in White" who some claim is Mrs. Elliott, the wife of Gene Elliott who died during an argument with her husband in the 1920s. It also describes the persona of Mr. Elliott (slick, unprincipled)and parts of the trial: Free viewing of ebook
AT LAST the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg and I got to go into the haunted room. It was a belated birthday gift to me. I spent the night in room 521, and the SPIRITS of St. Pete members joined me for a walk through the hotel, to check out the room, and for a snack before leaving.
We lined up and checked the reported haunted areas, Room 521, the room I had an odd experience with (504), the ballroom, the men's bathroom by the spa, the veranda, and the area by room on the second floor. We also sent Les down the elevators several times to see if the "gentlemen ghost" would appear or if the elevator would act up for him. These are the investigation notes from that night:
Vinoy, Sept. 3, 2015
Possible research/legend busting:
We did meet and ask several persons who worked for the hotel if anything happened to them; all said no. We did learn that baseball players, who tend to be classified as superstitious, will sometimes request extra keys in order to play pranks on their teammates who know they are in the haunted areas. These pranks have been successful enough that the ball players did go to the lobby to sleep.
Observations of the room: The Ghost Hunters did a TV show in that room and they thought that it was open. Mary saw the episode and thought that they saw the closet door open on its own (this did not happen for us). Additionally, I thought that the hair dryer story related to the haunted room, but there was no hair dryer in the bathroom at all. This must have related to a different room.
Sensitive reported the following: Male, tall, thin, hemophiliac, they call him “Gus” (maybe “Gus the Ghost”); got the name “Andrew”. Dressed in black. Present. Age: 30s or 40s. Slicked back hair. Response to “making guests aware” of his presence. When we talk of things other than the ghost, he goes away. Sensitive thought that he stayed in a closeted area.
The EMF meter spiked on most of the information given above. After the other departed, I watched the meter several times throughout the night. Nothing happened (no spikes) and the readings dropped to a .2.
Investigator 2: lady in white standing facing the bathroom; possible place memory; short, 5 foot 2; looked like she was from another time period.
While we were doing the EVP session, we heard tapping. It took me a minute to figure out that the tapping was in a pattern and came from the air conditioner, which was leaking from the ceiling. Called the first floor and they sent up a staffer to repair it within about 15 minutes. Engineer who came up to fix the a/c: worked for 8 years, multiple shifts, knew the TV show had been here, but affirmed that he had never experienced anything.
We went over the information compiled on my page; we found another story reported about the hotel: Security personnel reported seeing another woman in a white gown in front of room 253. Concerned for her safety they went to radio in and she vanished.
We checked for the area with room 253, see story above. There were no results.
When we walked through the hotel, we checked:
Room 504, where I felt energy before. We did determine that there was a lot of EMF; there is also a possibility that the floors slant. The compasses that I carried did move by the area of 503,where the EMF meter spiked repeatedly.
The nefarious gentleman is supposed to show up to men who are alone in the elevator, or to sent the elevator to the 5th floor. We experimented with Les, a male SPIRITS member, but had no real results.
We checked the men’s bathroom by the spa (via Les) with no results.
We checked the ballroom, where I had an experience years ago, sensitive sensed an energy near the stage; sensitive got a female energy with a last name with GRE – Green or Greer. She was an actress or an MC of some sort.
We checked the veranda area; no results.
AFTER the SPIRITS left:
Brandy: I have opened the door to the bathroom; I do get the sensation of movement out of the corner of my eye, but wonder if that is just a trick of suggestion. Small spots of light on my right hand side alone with the sensation of movement. (11:12 PM)
I did not sleep well that night. I constantly woke up -- every few hours I woke up. Several times I was incredibly warm (the coverlet was very heavy). However, at one point in the night, I woke up completely chilled. I did not think much of it until I came home the next day and realized that I had not been cold at the hotel the entire time -- just the one instance in which I woke up so cold that I had goosebumps. I'm not sure what that's about.
EVP review: Brandy's recorder
I must say that this does interest me. While the entity did NOT respond to us with any answers, during the time that we left the room there were distinct sounds of rustling and movement. I can account for only a small portion of it as being room service dropping off a tray of snacks. The other odd thing is that I did not touch the a/c control unit. The background noise in the room was a consistent sound until about 1 hour and 10 minutes into the recording. At that point, the white noise gets louder, and 2 minutes after that sound shift, it got louder again. It remained at that noise level, though no one was in the room. I am not sure why this happened. I replayed the section several times to verify these changes. I have included a 1 minute clip of some of the rustling (1:25 - 1:26) for review.
One sensitive thought that the gentleman with the receding hairline looked a little like the man she saw. (Near the middle of the group).
Room 253 (see research above; woman witnessed standing there by a guard, vanished when he called for security). These are the murals witnessed as a time slip reported to me. The un-restored mural is the light one; the restored are the darker images. The rest remain hidden behind boards for preservation.
The ballroom where I had my own experience in 2008/9.
Compliments of the hotel! :)
The room (521)
The left side of the bed (shown here by the closet) to the bathroom is where I sensed peripheral vision movement around 11 PM. It stayed fairly active (at least half an hour of this).
Homer the Surrogate Pug with me at the Vinoy.
March 2016: Got my pedi today at the Vinoy Spa. I had a tech who is a real ghost buff -- got some great ghost stories. She is the third person to tell me that the bathroom by the spa is haunted. I went in and took pictures and even did an EVP session (via Kindle video). Weird, I know. But while in Rome....
Found my gift certificate with a balance on it. Scheduled another pedicure and a facial today. Statement: Kudos to the Vinoy! The spa was excellent today and I highly recommend both services to those interested in going. I did ask at the pedicure about any ghostly reports; she had heard only something fairly recently about the tower but really could not recall what and did not have any details.
The Vinoy recently underwent a change in ownership and is having some construction work done. The place is really transformed -- the spa is moved to an entirely different part of the building. It's lovely to see what changes they have done, though -- the place looks great. I also SPIRITS rocked the Vinoy (left three stones behind for folks to find. All the rage in 2017).
The biggest issue is that the conditions were not ideal for an EVP/EMF session. There were folks vacationing there, though the Vinoy was a lot less populated that normal. I was told that this is a slow time for them, especially for the spa area. Yet, every time I went to try a recording people seemed to show up. They do have a timeline now of historic events at the Viony which I did try to capture. I enjoyed that very much. I did get some response on the EMF meter -- did two sessions asking if the gentleman was there and it spiked both times. I asked if he liked the changes and it spiked both times. The problem that I have is the less than ideal conditions and I did witness a spike that looked more like a cell signal; I can't say that there wasn't corruption from cell phones in the area as people moved through. Still, I thought that the response was interesting.