Meet Amy. She is a six-year-old resident of the Lakeside Inn for the past 130 years.
One foggy morning in the late 1800s, Amy wanted to join her father in a fishing outing on Lake Dora. He told her to stay with her mother at the Inn. Unbeknownst to her father, Amy followed him down to the lake. She was never heard from again, but there have been sightings. There is a sepia photo of the inn's dining room, dated 1884, that hangs adjacent to the present day dining area. The table is set but no one is in the photo except a small, unposed child in the background. According to the Inn's ghost lore, this is Amy, and the picture was taken just weeks after the child went missing. Over the years, her apparition has appeared to hotel guests and staff. She is always described as "a little girl wearing a red dress." Sabrina Law works the front desk at Lakeside Inn and has been an employee there for five years. When asked if she has any ghost stories to share, she smiled and said, "Things happen here frequently, and it doesn't matter if it is daylight or nighttime or a holiday. Just this morning that framed picture fell off the table onto the floor. No one was even near it."
Law has no fear of the Lakeside Inn spirits, "Our ghosts are friendly. They love this place, and they do not want to leave.
"One day I was passing by the back stairway. Something caught my attention, and I glanced down and saw a rather portly Caucasian woman. She was dressed in late 19 century attire, complete with brocade dress, pillbox type hat and a small purse hanging from her wrist. She was so real, and then she just disappeared.
"Sometimes you catch a whiff of a strong cigar or a hint of a floral perfume, the scent that maybe your grandmother wore, but there is no one around. Or the front desk phone will ring from one of the guests' rooms. When you answer it, there is silence. It turns out the room is unoccupied." Law was working with another front desk person (DP) who did not want to give her name, but her ghost encounter freaked her out. DP was coming up the back stairwell, the same one where Law saw the apparition. Someone was right behind her and trying to whisper in her ear. No one was there. DP no longer uses those stairs.
Floyd works the early shift and arrives at the Inn around 5 a.m. He and Myrtle, the cook, are the only ones in the building, and yet he has heard ethereal voices singing and laughing. When queried if these are just the sounds of an old building settling, he responded, "I lived in New England, and I have heard the creaking and groaning noises that very old homes make, and these are different."
1884 sepia photo at Lakeside Inn showing Amy
Above: Lakeside Inn
Above: Security camera in Frog & Monkey Pub pick up the moving orbs. (one is circled in red)
Above: Orb captured by a camera in Frog & Monkey's kitchen.
The Renaissance Building on Donnelly Street used to be a hotel, but now it is home to shops, restaurants, and some ghosts. The Frog and Monkey Pub and Restaurant located in the basement of the building appears to have its share of ghosts.
Owner, Eddie Parsons, reported, "I am working in my office late at night. Everyone has gone home. The place is locked, and I know I am the only one in the restaurant. Then I hear a glass crash to the floor or the bell that is located under the bar rings. It is our ghost."
They have named the ghost Nancy, and she seems to be friendly and mischievous, but there are probably a lot more of her kind inhabiting the pub. Parsons has 24-hour video monitoring of the restaurant, and on occasion, bright orbs will flash on the video screens and meander about the pub. It happens so frequently that the staff has begun to take it for granted when Parsons calls them over to observe the latest ghostly activity. "One night the monitors were filled with so many orbs you couldn't keep track of them on the screen," Parsons reported.
"We have found there is more activity during the winter season when the crowds are bigger. The ghosts like the live music corner, and they especially enjoy the piano. Recently I replaced that piano with another, and the ghosts seem disappointed that I did this," said Parsons.
By Jane Trimble, senior writer
To read Part 2 of the series on downtown's ghostly residents, click here.