Jamie (Roush) Pearce, author of Historic Haunts Florida, has reported the Amelia Island Williams House Bed and Breakfast near Fernandina Beach, Florida to have quite the haunted reputation. This Amelia Island gem was originally built and owned by a wealthy Bostonian banker in 1856. It was the second owners who purchased the home in 1859 who provided its name and rich reputation.
Marcellus Williams and his wife Emma Wightman (a great-great granddaughter of the King of Spain) moved into the home with their nine children. They chose to entertain a particularly different style of living than what was rendered as common practice in the Civil War South. The Williams family released all of their slaves before the outbreak of the war and had become part of the Underground Railroad. They were reputed to have hidden many African American slaves in a secret space located off the dining room until it was safe for them to travel on. Ironically, Williams hosted not only runaway slaves, but many influential guests, including Jefferson Davis, and other notable Confederates. Davis is said to have stored some of his furniture and personal property in the home.
After the war years, additions and upgrades were made to the home to make room for the Williams’ large and growing family, and for the gatherings, parties and grand events they loved to host. The south wing of the home was added in 1880. The Williams House is a luxurious example of a grand antebellum mansion. It contains claw foot tubs, antiques from all over the world, and centuries old shade trees in the backyard. The lavish home has a romantic and welcoming feel to the house. It's no wonder the house remained in the family 100 years after Mr. Williams’s death in 1888. The Williams House remains a place where guests love to return to even today, whether living or not.
Pearce added that there have been many reports of ghostly guest activity at the Amelia Island Williams House Bed and Breakfast. Most of these reports would suggest residual energies remain from happy visitors to perhaps the Williams’s gala events and gatherings. Many living guests of the inn have experienced the sounds of laughter and jovial conversations. The laughter and chatter seems to emanate from the downstairs area, especially the dining room. The exact details of the muffled exchanges remain a mystery, but the atmosphere of the house is always happy and cheerful.
Some of the spirits of past house guests have been seen as apparitions descending the staircase. A female apparition has actually been photographed numerous times in the mirror that hangs near the stairs. There have also been frequent reports of a man and woman staring, or making eye contact with the guests, and then suddenly vanishing before their eyes.
This type of activity has made the Amelia Island Williams House Bed and Breakfast popular with several national and local televised programs. It was featured in a WJCT documentary of the Ghosts of North Florida. At the time of the documentary, Chris Carter, co-owner of the Williams House, described incidents with guests waking in the middle of the night to discover ghostly figures watching them. Mr. Carter and other guests of the bed and breakfast have repeatedly described these paranormal encounters in a positive light with warm and inviting sensations and friendly interaction.
Whether these watchful spirits are Marcellus and Emma Williams, the descendants of the Williams family, or past visitors to the home is uncertain. No doubt, the guests of the Amelia Island Williams House Bed & Breakfast will experience a beautiful remnant of a bygone era, wonderful hospitality, and a warm welcome from the staff and the spirits that still reside within its historic walls.
In the month of October, a special package was offered that also included an Amelia Island Ghost Tour which featured a stop at the St. Michael’s Cemetery and the Williams’ Family grave sites.
The Amelia Island Williams House
103 South 9th Street
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
To read about more haunted locations in Florida, purchase a copy of “Historic Haunts Florida” by Jamie (Roush) Pearce at:
Haunted Places Examiner: Debe Branning firstname.lastname@example.org