Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
St. Augustine, Florida
11/22/08
Ripley Sign

History:

The building was built in 1887 by William Warden, a winter resident with a family of 16. The family members lived in the castle until 1925. During the next 16 years it sat vacant except for the vagrants that lived there. In 1941 Norton Baskin and his wife Marjorie Kinnan Rawlins bought the castle and turned it into a fashionable hotel called Castle Warden hotel. In 1950 it became the first permanent Ripley’s believe it or not! ® Museum. Much of Mr. Ripley’s never before seen by the public personal collection was put on display here. Unfortunately Mr. Ripley passed away before he could see his dream of this museum come true.

The most notable story about the castle is the story of the fire.
In April of 1944 a fire broke out but was contained to the 3rd and 4th floor. 2 women, Betty Richeson and Ruth Pickering both perished in the fire. The didn’t die from the fire but of smoke inhalation from the deadly fumes. The cause of the fire is still debatable to this day. It may have been a dropped cigarette or it could have been intentionally started to cover up a double murder. Supposedly there were no suspects and are no records to lead to any conclusion.
Duration - 11:00pm-6:00am
Present - Scott, Sprout, Lori, Toni, Tom, Craig also guests Ralf, Todd and Andrea
Meter Readings
Temp - 62 to 67
EMF - varied
Tools -6 IR cameras
3 Hi-8 video cameras
digital cameras
pyrometer
gauss meter
tri-field meter
audio recorders
thermal imaging camera

History of Haunting:

* Additional history of haunting of the building is located on the pages of our past investigations at Ripley's
Click HERE to view the report of haunted history.
Following is reported activity since our last visit

* Employee Colleen, said that one night in March, several things happened in the gift shop. In the front corner next to the door a book hit a woman in the eye which caused it to become red and swollen. In the same a while later another book fell off the shelf onto the floor.
* In the gift shop there are 2 cash registers. One of the registers popped open by itself while customers were waiting inline.
* Recently in the Ripley’s lobby, near closing time, the manager Roberta heard a woman’s crying or moaning voice faintly behind her. Later that evening, while a ticket seller was tallying her money drawer, she told Roberta how she had a “weird thing” happen to her earlier in the day. It seems she had heard what she thought was a woman whimpering or crying in the lobby, but no one was anywhere to be seen. She said it happened twice.
* Roberta had also been doing her regular rounds of the building shortly after her own experience with the whimpering woman when she saw a strange light in the right rear of the Theater Room. Roberta said she at first thought the humidifier in the room had shorted or sparked, but said the light was more hazy than a spark or flash. She said it rose slowly before disappearing, but couldn’t fully describe it, except that it was almost like a strange reflection of moonlight. PRGT note: there are no windows and no outside light can penetrate this room.
* Ralf (ghost tour manager) said. "The evening the Space Shuttle was about to launch, I was going to go up on the roof of the building to get a really good look. Upon stepping into the 4th floor “Penthouse” room (which I had never been in until that moment) in order to access the roof, I felt a sudden “heavy” feeling just in front of the stairs to the roof. My thoughts were totally focused on the impending launch and whether the cloud cover had cleared, but the feeling of doom and despair was instant when I stepped in that area. And it suddenly occurred to me that this was the room where Ruth Pickering had been found dead on that April day of 1944.
Personal Experiences:
* While Toni was setting up a camera in the Cemetery Hallway, She heard voices approaching. She said it sounded like two woman talking very low and that they were getting closer. She thought maybe it was Lori and Sprout coming to look for her. When she stepped around the corner onto the moose landing to tell them she was in the hall way, there was no one there. She then thought she heard the voices behind her in the cemetery hallway. So she, stepped back into the cemetery hall to see who was there and again found no one. Upon further investigation, she found no females on the floor with her at that point.
*
At 1:57am Lori, Tom, Toni and Scott were walking from the third floor stairs to the second floor landing when Scott and Toni both stated they smelled fire and that the smell was moving. It was the smell of burning wood and not cigarettes smoke.
*
At one point when Scott, Todd, Tom, and Toni were walking through the Vortex room, Todd said he felt an electrical current go through his body.
*
Tom, Scott, and Toni were in the gift shop and Toni walked into an extreme cold spot near the register area. Also by this point the air conditioner was turned off in the entire building. This was also noted by Tom.
*
Tom, Scott and Toni were walking through the interactive room to go to the gift shop and we all three smelled a very musty, moldy smell that followed them to the gift shop and then dissipated.
*
Tom, Scott, and Toni were walking though the cemetery hallway towards the theater room when Toni felt like She was hit with something heavy and sharp in the right shoulder region. Upon further investigation later that night, no marks were found on Toni.
*
Tom, Scott, Sprout, Lori, Craig, Todd, Andrea, Ralph and Toni were all sitting on the moose landing trying to recreate an occurrence from the last investigation. Several things happened at this point: On two separate occasions Toni saw what appeared to be red and yellow streaks of light moving on the ceiling. Scott noted that he saw a pink light as well.
*
While sitting on the Moose landing, Toni became very nauseous, disoriented, and extremely cold. Lori and Sprout noted the cold as well as being nauseated . At one point Toni thought She saw someone moving on the second landing. Several others thought they heard movement on the second landing.
*
Scott, Sprout, Tom, Lori, Craig and Toni entered the Bone room to do an EVP Session. Toni was again hit with extreme nausea and dizziness. Sprout also became even more ill as well. When Scott began to try and communicate with any possible spirits in the room the feelings became even worse. At one point Tom and Craig thought they saw someone standing on the foot of the stairs coming from the second to the third floor. While it was a dark shadow, it did appear to be a female. Tom was able to see the figure from the knees up and said he stared at it for approx. 2 to 3 seconds before he made any comment about it. Once he made a comment is when Craig looked up and saw it as well.
*
At the end of the night when we began to tear down the equipment, Toni felt like someone was approaching her from behind on three different occasions while walking around the third floor. Each time she turned to look and no one was there.
*
Several times throughout the night Toni thought she could her music playing somewhere in the building very faintly, but could never determine a cause.
*
Lori sensed that there was this male entity and was a bully to women and perhaps “imprisoning” or hindering a female Spirit there. She cannot explain her feelings of bravery or anger after encountering this Spirit. Shortly after 3am, while Lori was doing some EVP work with Ralf in the Vortex Room, She started to see movement in front of her. It was a visual distortion, much like one that occurs when heat rises off of hot pavement.
*
While the group was all together conducting a EVP session by the moose, Lori felt a weird feeling in the right side of the back of her head.
*
Lori said- as we were taking down the equipment on the second floor landing, I heard a distant, clear female voice call out, “Lori”.
*
Sprout said she heard her name called at two different times that night. Once on the staircase and once while entering the theater.
Evidence:
* At 2:41am Tom, Scott and Toni were in the second floors back hallway (Bathroom display area) when Tom walked into a cold spot. When Tom stated "Oh it's freezing right here" we recorded a direct response to Tom's statement. It sounds like a husky female voice replying, "Good for you". The voice was recorded on Toni's Hi-8 as well as Tom's voice recorder. Due to the squeaky hard wood floors, the sound is overlapping the EVP.
Click on location photo to hear. Ripley Bathroom
* At 1:55am Lori and Toni were sitting on the floor in the theater watching the monitor. During that time a voice was captured on our camera. The possible EVP says "No English". There is a pop or click before the EVP, which people have reported hearing right before paranormal activity takes place. If you listen closely, the EVP also has a reverberation or echo to it which is also common.
Click on location photo to hear.

  
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