UT and Plant Museum,
Feb. 29, 2008
History of location:
The Tampa Bay (Plant) Hotel was built in 1891. Henry Bradly Plant , founder of the Plant System of railroads, steamships and hotels, built the hotel. He saw it as a Moorish palace, which was designed to emphasize its exotic locale.
The hotel cost $2.5 million to build and another half-million to furnish. The hotel was the most modern of its day with electric lighting, private baths, telephones and elevators. Steel building materials and concrete floors also made it nearly fireproof. People who stayed at the hotel spent $5 a night.
The Tampa Bay Hotel offered a variety of activities to entertain guests, including hunting, fishing, golf, tennis, horse racing, dancing, boating and swimming. Open December to April, the hotel was a respite from the frozen north.
The Tampa Bay Casino was built in 1896, and it was one of the first performing arts center in the Tampa Bay area. John Philip Sousa, Anna Pavlova, Booker Washington, Ignace Paderwski, Sara Bernhardt, Nellie Melba, and Minnie Madden Fiske were among the first celebrities who appeared.
The Spanish - American War Room (shown via the Plant Museum): There is a little known five month war that took place in 1898 between Spain and America over Cuba. Teddy Roosevelt (of the Rough Riders) was one of the commanders of this excursion. Plant used his influence to make Tampa the headquarters of the war effort, and the Tampa Bay Hotel was the place to house soldiers. The count at the time was 20,000 horses and mules, 30, 000 soldiers, and at least a press corp of 122. For the first time in its history, the hotel was filled to capacity. Not everyone enjoyed Tampa, though. The hotel museum hosts letters from a soldier written to his mother. One thing he complained about was the 110 degree heat that hit Tampa that summer.
The hotel operated for 40 years and hosted guests such as Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, Clara Barton, Winston Churchill, Frederic Remington, Gloria Swanson, Richard Harding Davis, John Astor, Stephen Crane, Majorie Douglas, Grover Cleveland and many others.
It was eventually sold to the city of Tampa and operated as a convention center for a while. Eventually, the hotel was converted into its current location as a university. Since then, reports of haunting activity include a number of areas.
Reports of Haunted Areas:
The Library film vault actually contains ashes from former patrons, and there is a generally described "haunted activity" described in the area.
Mail room, activity at night including items and papers moving and intense cold breezes. (Reported to me via personal story): One student, a non-believer in ghosts, set up an experiment and challenged the entity. He returned to find the things that he set up, including a bulletin board tacked up with papers, scattered all over the room.
McKay Hall: (Reported to me by two former students, word of mouth): Movement and the sound of marbles rolling across the floor.
Rathskeller: Unknown, but alleged to be haunted.
Plant Hall: Personal Experience (Brandy): Summer session, 2009 -- Plant Hall is not air conditioned and the doors are left open with fans for circulations. The classrooms have individual a/c units. I taught an evening class at UT and was walking from the first floor to the second to get to the faculty mail room. Right on the stairs heading up to the second floor, I walked through a chilling column of air. It was so startling that I thought I had somehow walked through an air conditioning breeze by a vent -- but, again, there were no vents there. I looked up at the railing and wondered if somehow a classroom door had been left open and I was feeling some remnant of air from that. I also turned around to find the column of air and it was gone. I walked up and down checking -- no cold spot. I walked the second floor -- not a single classroom was open. To this day, I cannot account for that column of air. I do believe that I walked through a ghost. I thought that it might be Henry Plant, as he is said to haunt the area.
Plant Hall reported via word of mouth: Doors are also reported to open and close, and there are reportedly sounds of things dropping. Henry Plant is also said to manifest in the area. Vague reports of activity on the 3rd and 4th floors of "feeling watched."
Minaret: One paranormalist went up into a minaret and felt a cold breeze around her legs.
Feb. 29, 2008: Today, a friend and I went to the Plant Museum. I brought my EMF meter and digital camera. We watched the 14 minute historical video, and then toured the Museum. The EMF meter was useless as there was too much electrical wiring in the area. She found three rooms of high activity, pictured below. Only one orb showed up on one cabinet that Verna specifically picked up as having "a lot of energy". I took several shots in a row of the cabinet; one showed up with an orb the others did not.
We then walked up the second, third and fourth floors. On the way down the main stairwell, on the landing between the third floor going onto the second floor, she also saw something move out of the corner of her eye. We stopped to take images with no results.
December 2015: Victorian Christmas Stroll
I went with a group to the annual Victorian Christmas Stroll at Plant Museum, a part of Plant Hall.
I had visited the Plant Museum and the Victorian Christmas Stroll before on two other trips. On this particular visit, the EMF meter was readily available. I noticed that the EMF was lower than the last time I was at the museum.
One person in the group sensed a male presence. I asked if anyone was there to make the meter spike. It did. I asked for confirmation and it spiked again.
Outside of the museum, the group had access to the first floor, including the ballrooms. We went into the Grand Salon (the first ballroom). I asked if anyone was present and the meter spiked. I asked if they could confirm, and it spiked again. I did try to ask who it was: Mr. Plant, Mrs. Plant, the architect, Mr. Wood. There was no response. I also asked if the presence was a reporter, military, or construction with no meter response.
We walked through the hall of historic photographs and checked a second dining room/ballroom. This area had been refurbished in the 1990s. There was no response to any questions.
I went back to the area where I felt the cold spot in Summer 2009. The EMF was low, but I did attempt to replicate photos of my perspective from that experience.
The bottom two photos show the first shot I took of the area where I had the experience. This was my vantage point years ago. The second photo was taken after I walked the stairwell to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors, then came back down. It's a shot of the whole stairwell. I'm not sure why the top three steps have a haze over them, though it is likely a light refraction of some sort. I did clean the camera lens before the trip and after seeing this shot I checked again -- there were no fingerprints or smudges on the digital camera lens.
(Walking closer to the archway).
Sent to me via email; permission granted to post this to the page: )Date of email not recorded)
I went to UT back in '89 (does that date me?). There's quite a bit
of activity going on in some of the places you visited.
The cleaning staff would not go above the 2nd floor of Plant Hall
after dark. The only night classes held in the building were on the
2nd floor or the 3rd floor right next to the stairs. The one time I
had to go above the 2nd floor after dark - I got locked out of my
shared bathroom and my suitemates were gone - I went up to the 4th
floor men's room - the only one open - and it was a pretty creepy
experience. The sensation of being watched in the halls and in the
restroom was almost overpowering. I was glad to be able to get out
of there and down the stairs in a hurry.
For the record, I'm mildly "sensitive" if you will. I tend to get
headaches that "point" toward sources of energy. I could take
classes in Plant Hall on the 2nd floor just fine, but on the 3rd
floor, I'd get headaches pointing straight up. On the 4th floor, it
was a nasty pounding from all directions. I never did go up to the
5th floor attic rooms.
The 5th floor attic was divided into three non-connecting sections
with separate stairs for each. Rumor has it that Mr. Plant used to
practice *ahem* "black magic" in the attic. Be that as it may, the
headaches above the 3rd floor were really bad - and this was before I
found out about the rumor. Incidentally, did you notice the finials
on top of the minaret steeples? Many of them are traditional black
magic sybmols. Interesting? Kinda. Convincing? Nah.
There was another ongoing incident in one of the dorm buildings. I
forget the name of the building (it's been almost *gulp* twenty
years!), but it was one of the two five-storey towers right on JFK
Blvd. (across from the Plant Theatre - also rumored to be haunted by
Mrs. Plant's ghost). It was the building furthest from the street.
The incident started with a mirror on the fourth floor of the dorm.
A guy I knew and his roommate began noticing a "strange black thing"
in the corner of the mirror in their bathroom. Then they started
experiencing paralysis as the Thing superimposed itself over their
faces. They started bringing people in - people they hadn't spoken
to about the incident - and asking them to see if they noticed
anything weird in the bathroom. After getting positive responses
from others that pretty much matched what they'd experienced, they
called in their Resident Advisor, who called in the head of student
housing. The two guys were relocated. Then they made the mistake of
trying to contact the Thing with *ahem* yes, a ouija board.
To make a long story short, the incidents escalated on the 4th floor -
including apparitions, cold spots, malfunctioning lights - until the
University had to relocate the entire 4th floor to hotel rooms across
the river for a few weeks until things apparently died down. Sadly,
I missed most of this; I only found out about it after my friend had
been relocated, and by that point things were on the wane.
The only incident I had personally was when I went to take a walk
past the dorm to see if I "picked up" anything. By that point the
4th floor was empty, so there were no lights or anything that could
be seen from the ground. I was a little disappointed - no glaring
eyes or phantom lights. Anyway, I walked up to JFK Blvd. and turned
left along the sidewalk heading to the main entrance of the campus.
I had to walk past about a dozen streetlamps on my way. As I passed
under each one, it went dark, then came back on after I reached the
next one. All of them did it in sequence, and only after I got to
the lamppost. Given that the Thing on the 4th floor had a habit of
extinguishing lights, it was kind of creepy!
Anyway, it's good to see that Tampa is getting some attention. I
don't really know of anything that's happened since then, but it was
interesting while I was there!