Black cats, broken mirrors and bunny feet—oh my! Friday the 13th is upon us, so it’s time to decide how you’ll take on the upcoming day of unluck. Will you stow away in your closet with shakers of salt and a bouquet of four-leaf clovers in tow? Or, will you join with the most courageous (or foolhardy) of the Downtown Crowd, braving the streets for tours of some of our spookiest and most hapless histories? If you’ve chosen the latter, we’ve gathered some tales of local superstitions and settings of where the events took place so you can go for an especially spooky tour for May 13, the only Friday the 13th in the 2016 calendar. If masked marauders, uneven digits, and birds flying into windows send shivers down your spine, proceed ahead at your own risk.
Trouble Comes in Threes
At the northeast corner of Jefferson and Zaragoza streets is the former City Courthouse, which is now the location of the Florida State T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum.
When Mr. Wentworth died in 1988, the museum receptionist was sitting at her “post” (just inside the main entrance and to the right of the door). She had an incident that she reported to her boss, the supervisor/manager of the museum. A black bird (be it either a crow or a raven) flew into the window right at the reception booth. This bird flew into it two more times, for three times total.
The supervisor was told of the happening and he asked the receptionist if the glass was broken. She told him it wasn’t and she saw no damage to it, but that the bird was still standing at the entryway on the concrete. It was right in front of the window it just flew into three times.
With no damages to report, the museum manager proceeded to tell the receptionist that he was glad she had called, because he had sad news: Mr. Wentworth had passed away about three hours prior to her calling.
The Pensacola Cultural Center/Pensacola Little Theatre building is the old site of the City Jail of Pensacola. The jail’s most notorious prisoner was Hosea Poole, who immigrated with his brother to Pensacola from Spain in the early-20th century.
While Hosea’s brother was a law-abiding citizen working in the docks, Hosea was “wild and crazy” in the Red Light District and spent a lot of time as a guest of the City Jail of Pensacola for thievery and other misdemeanors.
After his brother confronted Hosea about his lifestyle, Hosea took an ax and did what was described as “the Lizzie Borden act minus the 40 whacks,” killing his brother with a couple of well-aimed blows to his head and body.
After a trial, Hosea was convicted of his brother’s murder and sentenced to death by hanging.
All hangings were performed at the center of the jail building at an arched entryway, which is now the entrance to Pensacola Little Theatre and Portabello Market and Catering.
Theatre-goers have reported several sightings of a man with a noosed neck fitting Hosea’s description, so you might think twice before hanging around this grim gateway for too long.