54 Cuna St, St. Augustine, FL
Tucked away on a quiet street just outside St. Augustine’s historic district, where tourists swarm, day after day, over centuries-old brick streets, sits a small, quiet restaurant with a history as sordid as the ancient city itself: The Prince of Wales.
Today, this popular pub may be known for its cozy atmosphere and authentic, British fare, but, like most of the buildings in St. Augustine, there is history buried behind those walls. One that lingers to this very day.
It might not have the infamy of some of its more famous neighbors, of which there are many, but The Prince of Wales will be long remembered as the former home of one of St. Augustine’s most notorious residents—in both life and death.
Her name was Fay.
The house was originally built in 1860.
It was converted into a restaurant in 2010.
The Prince of Wales has been the site of multiple paranormal investigations.
The owners once shied away from its famous haunting, but now embrace it.
In the 1970s, the home's former owner, Fay, was a notorious short-order cook working at the St. George Street Pharmacy, a popular local’s spot just down the street from her modest two-story home.
Fay had a reputation for being difficult, bitter, and cruel, and most of the people in town found it made their lives a whole lot easier if they gave her a wide berth, avoiding any opportunity that might put them on the business end of her stern glare or sharp tongue.
Her attitude toward others didn’t make her very popular, to say the least, but that was just fine with Fay, who never needed anything from anyone else. She was a simple woman with simple tastes, who wanted nothing more than to live a life of privacy.
But the problem with being an older woman living by yourself is that there are some things that even she couldn’t do alone. In fact, it wasn’t long before the house she loved, her sanctuary from the world, was starting to fall apart around her.
With little other choice, Fay called in a repairman, but what he told her wasn’t what she wanted to hear, and it wasn’t long before she was berating him, calling him a crook and a con man, and accusing him of trying to steal her hard-earned money.
The offended repairman high-tailed it out of there, but Fay was persistent, following him down the stairs from the second floor, yelling and screaming, so caught up in her anger that she made one tiny, little misstep.
It was the kind of mistake that could happen to anyone at any time, but, for Fay, it would prove to be her last. She tripped, tumbling down the stairs head over heels and breaking her neck on the bottom step—dying instantly.
By then, the repairman had already made his way down the street and as far away from Fay as he could get, completely unaware of the tragedy that had befallen her. Needless to say, he wasn’t the only one.
Not having any close friends or family, no one noticed that Fay hadn’t been around lately. She didn’t show up for work and hadn’t been seen watching from her upstairs’ window, but people didn’t seem to mind.
She might have laid there forever, but sultry St. Augustine has hardly the best weather for preserving a body. It wasn’t long before Fay began to rot, and an unmistakable odor started to spread across the neighborhood.
In the end, it was the mailman who could no longer ignore the smell. He found her there, four days later, laying at the bottom of the stairs.
She was still scowling.
It wasn’t long after Fay’s tragic fall, when her family came down to take over the property and deal with her affairs, that the first of the house’s famed hauntings started to occur.
They spoke of doors and windows that opened and closed on their own, sometimes violently, and bumps and thuds that could be heard from the stairwell late at night. Even the family pets were affected, refusing to go up to the second floor and lashing out at their owners whenever they were forced to.
It seemed that Fay’s nasty reputation had continued to grow from beyond the grave, maybe even intensify, making her more notorious in death than she ever was in life. The family did their best to endure, but it became too much to handle and they were soon forced to sell the property.
And that’s how it’s been ever since, the house changes hands, but the new owners never stay very long. Complaints about strange noises and uncomfortable feelings have become a normal occurrence, and some even say that the smell of rotting flesh still lingers, defying explanation.
That alone is enough to draw attention from some of the nation’s most well-known paranormal investigators, as well as give locals a reason to pause whenever they happen to pass by the house, which has now become The Prince of Wales. But there are other stories, ones much more sinister, that have led to the new restaurant's local infamy.
It would seem that Fay herself is known to make an appearance on occasion, looking out from the second-story window with a crooked frown, arms crossed, no doubt disapproving of the spectacle that has been made of her life and unfortunate death.
The number of sightings are still growing, if you happen by, you might even get a glimpse of her yourself, a woman so full of hate that she continues to judge the world long after leaving it. Even if you don’t, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a few pictures, but don’t be surprised if you scroll back through them and find her lipless scowl looking back at you.
Despite its former tenant and the list of horrifying stories that have accompanied her for the last few decades, The Prince of Wale has become a welcome addition to St. Augustine's downtown culinary scene.
Offering British fare and a cozy atmosphere, it’s easy to forget that only a few feet away from where you sit was once the site of a grisly death, one so horrible that its shockwaves can be felt even to this day.
Stop by for a pint and see for yourself. But be wary, because there is a lot more to that little house than meets the eye.
Fay and The Prince of Wales can be found at 54 Cuna Street.