Today, we got together with our friends Bruce and Lynn Gernon and Kathy Doore and met in Palm Beach, at the Flagler Museum, built in 1902. It is still known as Whitehall and was Flagler’s winter home. We were there to do a little ghost hunting.
A little background. Henry Flagler was a founding partner of Standard Oil and the earliest and undoubtedly the most important developer of Florida. He developed two million acres of land and his East Coast Railway connected the entire east coast of the state, from Jacksonville to Key West. He built Whitehall, which has more than 75 rooms, as a wedding present for this third wife, Mary Lily Keenan. She was 24 when she married Flagler, then 60.
The inside of the mansion: ceiling in the lobby, painting surrounded by ornate, gold-plated art.
Back in the late 1970s, Bruce and Lynn were visiting the museum when she had an encounter with a man she believes was Flagler’s ghost. She and Bruce were on the second floor and Lynn had gotten lost, which is easy to do in this place. She was looking for the restroom and ended up in one of the strange little hallways that lead to a room. And in this hallway she encountered a man dressed in overalls. She asked him where the restroom was and he gestured off to his right. “Down there.”
“I knew something strange was going on,” Lynn said. “I felt really disoriented, disconnected. I followed his directions toward the restroom and when I glanced back, he was gone.”
Bruce says that when he finally found Lynn, she was pale, scared, and it took awhile for her to tell him what she’d experienced.
Some years later, when Lynn and Bruce were living in the keys, Bruce awakened suddenly one night and saw a man standing at the foot of his bed. “I was totally freaked out,” he said. “I thought a robber had broken into the house.” But the man telepathically told Bruce not to be afraid. And it was then that Bruce recognized him as Henry Flagler.
And Bruce, remembering Lynn’s encounter that day t the museum, demanded, “What’s your interest in my wife?”
“She looks like one of my wives,” Flagler replied.
Mary Lily’s portrait. She, like Lynn, was a blond. This hair, though, looks like a wig.
And when Lynn was 25, she did look a lot like Mary Lily and didn’t wear a wig!
Over the years, there have been sightings of Flagler in Whitehall. According to one article, he has been sighted on the stairs where, at the age of 84, he fell and died. But the security guard I spoke to said that Flagler didn’t die in Whitehall. The fall broke his hip and he was taken to a cottage near the Breakers Hotel to recuperate – and died there. The cottage no longer exists. He also said there were no ghosts in the museum. “For there to be a ghost, someone has to have died here. And no one has died here.”
To give you some idea of the opulence of this place:
A photo of what ballroom looked like when it held actual people from the era:
the music room: the organ is set into the wall
Other people have sighted Mary Lily peering from a second floor bedroom window. Several women have claimed to seen her dressed in her distinctive period clothing while using the lady’s restroom.
So over lunch, before we went to the museum, I showed Lynn and Kathy the Ghost Radar app on my iPhone, which allegedly registers energy fluctuations in your immediate environment.
From the FAQ that comes with the app: “It has been suggested that paranormal energies manifest themselves through the Quantum Flux or are an aspect Jung’s collective unconscious. Regardless of the medium through which the energies manipulate electric devices the resulting manipulated readings seem to indicate intelligence on occasion… It’s believed that paranormal energies have the ability to influence electrical equipment. This idea comes from the concept that matter, life, soul, and life are fundamentally an electrical phenomena. The app provides a set of parameters for paranormal energies to manipulate which are then processed as graphical, textual, and audible readouts.”
The app registered energy fluctuations frequently, but in some areas the fluctuations were abundant. They appear on the app radar screen as red, blue, green or yellow blips, with red the strongest. On the second floor where Lynn had her encounter nearly 30 years ago, I got several red blips in a tiny hall between two small rooms that had been servants’ quarters.
Three words from the app’s library popped up quickly: guess, also, edge. In using the app, I’ve found that the words often describe what I’m thinking or the conditions in the immediate environment – i.e., a synchronicity. These 3 words intrigued me. I was thinking, We’re guessing at all this. After all, nearly 30 years had passed and just because Lynn had had an encounter in this area didn’t mean anything now. But suppose this app was cutting edge?
The place where my app and Lynn’s went nuts was in the master bedroom, the walk-in closet, and the master bathroom. Lots of red and intense blue blips and the words: wonderful and successful.
No one had an encounter, but we certainly had fun with the app and now and then, I could feel the powerful presence of the past that suffused the air in the mansion. While I was writing this post, I turned on the app to check on the words that had come up in the master bedroom area and three words came up: cell, correctly, evidence. Was my cell app correctly interpreting the evidence?
It would be interesting to test this app with a psychic who can perceive spirits. Would the psychic’s impressions fit those of the app?
A ghost has also been sighted in Flagler’s private railroad car, also on display in the museum. We went through it, but will leave that one for another day!