20 Cordova St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Built as a single-family home in 1904, Casa de Sueños now welcomes guests as a quaint Bed & Breakfast. Before offering fresh linens and a free buffet, the house catered to a different clientele; the dead.
Teeming with shadow people and mischievous unseen entities, Casa de Sueños is undoubtedly the spookiest B&B in St. Augustine.
The building now known as Casa de Sueños operated as a funeral home for nearly two decades, explaining why ghost sightings have been reported since the Inn opened.
In the 1940s, the Casa passed from the hands of cigar factory owner P.F. Carcabra to undertaker William McGrath. McGrath converted the building into the Garcia Funeral Home, which operated successfully until the ‘60s.
Known for its convenience, locals were encouraged to walk in and make future funeral arrangements. Windows were lined by custom-made caskets, and the front yard was filled with top-of-the-line granite headstones.
Kathleen Hurley, who transformed the former funeral home into a B & B in the ‘90s, remembers visiting the funeral home when she was a child. At the time, she had no interest in St. Augustine, but after spending several years in New York City, she grew tired of living in the fast lane.
Hurley packed her bags and headed for the Florida coast. It wasn’t long before she found the perfect location for her Inn, the old funeral home. The day she signed the lease, former mortician Willaim McGrath passed away peacefully as if he knew the house was in good hands.
Greg Jenkins, the author of Haunted Inns, Pubs, and Eateries of St. Augustine, says that paranormal activity at Casa de Sueños was apparent as soon as Kathleen purchased the home.
As she unpacked her belongings, she stopped for a brief moment to look over necessary paperwork. She was sitting on the floor reading the documents when the contents of one of her boxes jumped out and landed next to her.
She sat dumbfounded for a few seconds. Eventually, she dismissed the event, thinking it was merely exhaustion from a long day. However, this was only the beginning of ghostly activity at the Inn.
During her first week in the home, Kathleen began to hear strange noises. Footsteps, creaks, and tapping. She also noticed items began to disappear and reappear in random places. A skeptic at heart, she quickly found rational explanations for the eerie late-night happenings.
That was until another event cemented the possibility of someone (or something) lurking in the shadows of the B&B.
Kathleen claims she purchased an artisanal candle to decorate the Casa. She placed the neatly packaged item on a table and began to walk away. As she did, the candle leaped out of its box and landed in front of her.
Kathleen says she attempted to find a rational explanation for what was happening, but this time she fell short. For the first time, she knew she was witnessing the paranormal.
For many, the most interesting part of paranormal investigating is the history of the property and the people who were once there. But sometimes investigators are challenged by the activity and unable to make sense of it all. So we respectfully give them a name, or names, and try to share the space peacefully.
When visiting the Inn you might hear rumors of a ghost named Randolph who is said to make guests feel uneasy as if they’re being watched.
The owner often receives emails with pictures detailing guests’ encounters with specters at the Inn, particularly run-ins with Randolph.
The name was given to the paranormal activity in the home as a way to make it a bit more tangible. It is unknown if a man by this name actually existed. Generally, it is believed that Randolph is not one entity but rather the multiple entities that haunt the old funeral home.
Back in 2010, a couple staying at the Centennial House Inn across the street described seeing two black figures, a man and a woman, strolling around the Casa de Sueños parking lot.
As it turns out, the area where the rear parking lot stands today used to be the main embalming room of the funeral home.
The couple described the figures as being completely solid but darker than they should be, which is generally how shadow people manifest. The entities seemed like they were looking for something but vanished after they realized they’d been spotted.
What were they looking for?
Casa de Sueños stands in the nation’s oldest city and carries within its walls more secrets than we could imagine. Some of which can only be uncovered by looking into this century-old building’s history.
Constructed in 1904, the one-story wood-frame residence stands atop land once owned by Henry Flager’s real estate company. Flager is known as the father of Miami and Palm Beach, considered a key figure in the development of Florida.
Interestingly, during the 18th century, the land was part of a defensive barrier placed to combat the British.
During the first Spanish occupation, the people of St. Augustine sought ways to protect their beloved city from British invasion.
The Spaniards resorted to creating a natural barrier using razor-sharp cactuses and yucca gloriosa, known as the “Spanish dagger” for its skin-piercing edges. This defensive wall was known as the Rosario Line. Its western border once resided where Casa de Sueños stands today.
Throughout the years, Casa de Sueños was home to several different families and businesses.
George Colee, whose family started a prosperous horse carriage company in the 1880s, called the Casa home in the early 1900s.
The Carcaba family later moved in and spent their successful cigar manufacturing money on an elaborate expansion that transformed the structure into the grand Mediterranean-Revival home it is today.
In the mid-1900s, the Garcia family took over with their affluent funeral home business, and in the 1970s, an association for the intellectually disabled took up residence before the building was converted into office space.
Today, luckily for us, Casa de Sueños is one of the lovelier inns in St. Augustine.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a chilling paranormal experience, no visit to St. Augustine is complete without stopping by Casa de Sueños. Are you afraid of the dark? The entities stalking the Inn might just change your mind.
Casa de Sueños is a 3-star Bed & Breakfast, open for reservations. The Casa features plenty of free guest amenities such as a breakfast buffet, free off-street parking, and wi-fi.
The Inn is within walking distance of historical sites, shops, and restaurants. For more information about booking a (potentially) haunted room at Casa de Sueños, please visit their website.