Address: 429 Caroline Street, Key West, FL
Once the residence of Doctor Joseph Porter, this nineteenth-century mansion is packed with paranormal activity. One poltergeist died in the same room he was born. Does that explain the full-bodied apparitions, shattered glass, or chamber ensemble?
Residents report to find coins stacked by invisible hands, neatly arranged by unseen specters. Others have witnessed Doctor Porter’s poltergeist in full-bodied form. Some overhear chamber ensembles in vacant rooms or watch apparitions appear to disappear. Wine glasses are tossed from their racks; pints are spontaneously half-split. What’s haunting Porter Mansion?
Does Doctor Porter care for a drink? Frequently spotted on the first-floor bar, Doctor Porter spooks guests and staff alike. He’s known to toss wine glasses off their racks or have them spontaneously shatter.
Even pint glasses have been found split-open on tabletops, tumbled about by unseen hands. One bartender couldn’t handle working within such close proximity to paranormal activity, quitting soon after hired.
Other bartenders don't mind the company of poltergeists. One even waited on Doctor Porter herself. Although she didn't know at the time, she served a turn-of-the-century poltergeist.
While working her shift, an unoccupied seat was quickly and unaccountably occupied. Dressed in turn-of-the-century garb, she assumed the customer was an actor from a historical society or theater. It wasn't unusual for actors to grab a drink at the Porter Mansion.
After they exchanged salutations, she fetched his bottle of wine. He thanked her as she prepared the glass. Whenever she turned around, the man had vanished. The dimes he'd left to foot the bill were the only evidence of his existence. Whenever she asked her customers if they'd noticed where the man had disappeared, they responded that they'd never seen him.
It was only later that she had realized what had occurred. Someone had shown her a photograph of the late Doctor Porter – the same mysterious man who had left her his coins.
One third-floor resident alleges that he’s regularly visited by poltergeists. These are no sinister specters – whenever the resident is away from his bedroom, he overhears strange clinks from inside. He always returns to find his coins neatly stacked above his dresser.
Is this Dr. Porter, the mansion’s former owner? It wouldn't be the first time that Doctor Porter left money around.
Another resident claims to hear the mysterious sounds of a chamber ensemble. Once it occurs, she walks to the living room to inform the apparitions that she’s trying to sleep. She then instructs them to try again tomorrow. As soon as she tells them that she’s sleepless, they’re quiet for two to three days at once.
Despite her sleepless nights, she insists that these are polite, obliging phantoms.
One man witnessed a full-bodied apparition in the Porter Mansion. While looking out of the window, he saw a strange man pacing in front of the door.
He assumed it was an impatient client, the man ventured out to call him inside. Yet whenever he opened the door, no one was there. There was neither anyone in the hall nor near the entrance. The front desk reported that no one had arrived. There had been no impatient clients... Who was this poltergeist?
Built by Judge James Webb in 1838, the Porter House is best known for Doctor Joseph Yates Porter Junior. Doctor Porter lived within the home the entirety of his life, dying within the same room that he was born. Some say that his poltergeist remains there today.
Judge Webb was influential in his own right as the first Federal Judge of the New Superior Court of Key West. Webb introduced legislation that regulated salvage in Florida, helping legitimize wrecking as a career. Webb likewise became the Secretary of State to the Republic of Florida.
Doctor Joseph Porter’s father purchased the property in 1845, though died prematurely. Both Porter’s father and mother suffered early deaths, dying at thirty-two and thirty. Joseph Porter would know grief long before he turned his attention to Yellow Fever.
Doctor Joseph Porter became Key West’s first native-born physician and Florida’s first Public Health Officer. He played an instrumental role in controlling yellow ever as well as initiating health legislation. Doctor Porter was one of the first physicians to recognize the role of mosquitoes in yellow fever transmission.
The Porter Mansion was originally built as a two story house in 1839 with a third flood added in 1870. Dr. Joseph and his wife Louisa Curry continued to renovate the estate extensively, adding small balconies with Victorian trim and wrought-iron. Porches were added to the rear of the home, and a mansard roof and gable dormers to the tip.
Porter’s daughter and original founder of the Old Island Restoration Foundation later painted the estate emerald green. Jessie Newton intended for the color to imitate the waters of the island, so she supplemented white trim to suggest whitecaps. It’s a striking sight, made more remarkable by its rich history.
In 1973, the Porter House was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It’s now a residential and commercial space with lots available for offices or apartments. Do the tenants share their lot with poltergeists?
The Porter Mansion is located at 429 Caroline Street. Let us know if you encounter Doctor Porter!