Q: Why did the ghost starch his sheet?
A: He wanted everyone to be scared stiff!
When’s the best time of year to join a ghost tour? Wait. This is not a joke because the answer is anytime! Earlier this spring, I joined friends on a Venice Ghost Tour with Venice Florida Tours in Sarasota County. It was a spooktacular evening!
Tools of the Ghost Hunting Trade
A Mel Meter, K-II Meter, thermal imager, digital voice recorder, and full-spectrum camera, are some of the tools of the trade paranormal investigator Tracey Rieker carries during tours. She, along with the founders of Venice Florida Tours, Ronnie and Tiffany Fernandez, led the ghost walking tour of downtown Venice.
Skinny on Venice Walking Tours
Here is a brief history about, well, the walking tour company specializing in history. Mr. and Mrs. Fernandez relocated to Venice from Texas and began offering walking tours of downtown Venice in June 2016 with an emphasis on history.
Last fall, Ms. Rieker, who recently moved back to the area after spending time in Colorado, was a guest on a tour. Before moving to Colorado, she lived in a house in Osprey, Fla., which inspired her interest in paranormal investigation. Since then, she has spent about 10 years as a paranormal investigator with most of that time in Colorado. After taking a historical walking tour with the Fernandez couple, they all agreed there are many historical and paranormal tales. The Venice Ghost Walk would be the venue to share those tales.
Are There Haunted Places in Venice, Florida?
The Venice Ghost Walk, offered at least once a month, is part history and part Ghost Hunting 101. Although we did not enter any buildings, we stood outside to hear both warm-hearted and bone-chilling tales. Some were first-hand experiences from the guides, others were third-party accounts.
Looking at what is now T.J. Carney’s Pub & Grill, it was a Rexall drugstore operated by James Dick and Jerry Meadows. It was commonly known as “Dick & Meadows Pharmacy.” Upstairs tenants reported books and picture frames pushed off shelves for no apparent reason. Did paranormal activity cause it or is there another explanation?
Hear Tales of Those Who Called Venice Home
The Venice Museum & Archives holds intriguing history, both tangible and intangible. Built in 1927, it was a guest house called the Triangle Inn. Mrs. Augusta Miner operated it and had moved from Chicago. She tragically passed away in the home in 1934 from a fire caused by an oil stove. She burned but the building did not have any damage.
The tour does not pass the building, but we heard the story of Mrs. Miner, her tragic ending, and the stories of her ghost. The group also heard about sightings of ghosts in Kentucky Military Institute uniforms seen in different buildings throughout downtown. Venice was the winter home for the school between 1932 and 1970. Do the spirits of some cadets still long for warm winters?
Built in 1896 is the Lord-Higel House, the second-oldest house in Sarasota County. The guides discussed how the home was originally built in an orange grove and relocated to its current location in 2005 at Granada and De Parques avenues. Mr. Fernandez shared an experience from a contractor working on the house. He reported smelling oranges, which could be evidence of a residual haunting.
Ms. Rieker explained there are two types of hauntings. A residual haunting is the same thing over and over, such as a ghost acting out the same actions or scents as perfumes or burning cigars from the past. The other is an intelligent haunting in which the ghost is aware of its present surroundings.
Feel Like a Ghost Hunter
Holding her digital voice recorder, the paranormal investigator said she uses it to capture electronic voice phenomena, EVP for short. During the tour, eight of us took turns holding the K-II Meter which had five colors, green to the far left, lime green, yellow in the middle, orange, and red to the far right. The device measures electro-magnetic field fluctuations. Green means there is little to no electrically charged object within range. Red means you are possibly standing next to a ghost (!!!) Or, you are standing next to a power source, such as an iPhone.
The 90-minute tour begins at the Downtown Venice Gazebo in Centennial Park before sunset and ends in the dark. It is a slow-paced and information-packed 1.5-mile walk. The Venice Ghost Walk stops outside buildings and combines historical storytelling with paranormal knowledge. Ready to go? Before the tour, I recommend reading up on Venice’s spooky history by picking up the book, Ghost Stories of Venice, by Kim Cool, Features Editor of the Venice Gondolier Sun. It is one of several books she has written about ghost stories in communities on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Nuts & Bolts About Venice Florida Tours
Venice Florida Tours
Tel: (817) 793-8433
Venice Historic Walking Tours offered Saturdays and Sundays.
Venice Ghost Walk Tours are at least once a month.
Visit Facebook.com/VeniceFloridaTours for tour dates and times. Reservations required, $15 per person, cash.
Tours for private groups are available.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to support this blog, my traveling habit, and my special-needs dog.
Where to Eat
T.J. Carney’s Pub & Grille
231 W Venice Ave.
Venice, Fla. 34285
Tel: (941) 480-9244
Open Daily 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.