The Haunts of The Spanish Hospital

Posted by blogger in St. Augustine Ghost Tours
The Haunts of The Spanish Hospital - Photo

One of the most well known ghostly haunts of St. Agustine, The Spanish Hospital, is located 3 Aviles Street, right smack in the center of the region’s busiest section. It is now a museum dedicated to the everyday medical practices that were an institution during St. Agustine’s Second Spanish Period (1784-1821); a showcase of surgical demonstrations, apothecary care, and even a medicinal herb garden.

Hospitals as a norm have an incredible amount of ghosts and goblins. As the final place of some mortal coils, and their jumping-off point to the great beyond, these structures sometimes seem to emanate supernatural activity 24/7.

The place is a must-see for all intrepid visitors with a strong stomach and curiosity for the madness, that passed off as health care, that was 19th-century medicine.

And for specter speculators and wraith watchers, this place is a treasure trove. It is filled with stories and all manner of tales. Brimming with supernatural apparitions and strange phenomena.


The History Of The Spanish Military Hospital.

When the British finally seized St.Agustines, after countless tries from the Spanish to win control – through a series of diplomatic back deals and not through force – one of the firsts things they did was import dozens of craftsmen from their islands. Among these lot of poor souls swept from their grey rainsoaked existence and dropped into the azure balmy sun-drenched coasts of Florida, was a Scottish carpenter named William Watson.

Watson purchased and remodeled the house that would become the hospital’s main building. When the Spaniards returned – St. Agustine had a pesky habit of being invaded. Inhabitants needed a spreadsheet just to know under whose crown they were living under that day – the building was seized along with three other constructions in the vicinity.

The Spaniards joined all three and created a rather impressive facility for treating their soldiers and military personnel. The hospital was strictly for the use of the military. Only calvary men, soldiers, and officers worked or were treated in the place.

Colonials managed to do the one thing their old-world counterparts never could… They took a bat to death rates and over time, mainly due to the weather, preventive care, and early forms of vaccination – practices that were still heretical back in the motherland –  the survival rate skyrocketed.

“They still had to deal with endemic diseases and hostile forces, both from the British as well as the Natives, but all in all they had a really low mortality rate. Back in Europe, most medical care was a mix of religious beliefs and blind luck. In the Colonies – out of the sight of the church – doctors could practice a more secular form of medicine, one based on science and not God.”


In 1818, the West Wing of the hospital burned down, and two years into the American Territorial Period the place was officially closed. Another fire destroyed the East Wing in 1895. All that stands of the original Spanish Hospital is that proto-house, the one that Watson built during the British period. The Watson House, as some know the hospital was restored in the early 1970s by the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission.

The Skeletons In The Closet.

When the West wing went up in smoke in 1818, the city started to see that the hospital wasn’t going to cut it. They started transferring their soldiers and bureaucratic machinery to a newer building and slowly began to deconstruct the hospital down and repurpose it for other uses.

While this was going on, one of the water lines that feed nearby buildings burst and part of the street began to flood. The crew tore up the foundations of the Watson building and tried to reach the pesky water pipe. The soil had been stirred and turned to mud, the ground was bubbling, and from that froth, thousands of human bones began to spill out.

Underneath the hospital was a mass burial plot. Thousands upon thousands of bodies were buried on the spot.

Archeologists believed that the bones were part of an ancient burial ground that belonged to the indigenous people of the area, The Timucuans. For almost a decade this idea endured… until… 1934. In ’34, a group of workers turning the ground for an orange tree crop near the ever-popular “Fountain Of Youth” attraction, uncovered the real Timucuan Indian burial site.

This discovery turned heads. How could there be two burial plots? Why were they so apart? And, when comparing the two, why was there such a staggering difference between the burial ceremonies? The one near the “Fountain Of Youth” exuded deference and respect, while the one below the hospital was a hole with bodies piled one on top of the other without any sort of pomp and circumstance.

Speculation, given that there are few of the original skeletons examine, tossed out the hypothesis that the mass grave below the Watson House was in fact just that: a mass grave. Due to signs of violence, some believe that those thousands of dead might have been the real indigenous people of St. Agustine and that the Timucauns were, in fact, a conquering race that took the land by force and committed genocide.

The Hauntings Of The Spanish Hospital.

So, let’s recap…

A. You have a hospital, that although highly advanced for its era was still a fertile ground for all manner of misery and death.

B. That same structure was accidentally constructed over the ancient burial ground of over one thousand dead Natives… Natives that might have been forcefully pushed into mass extinction.

My question is:

Is it any wonder that this place is a madhouse of paranormal activity? 


Even before the place became a hot tourist attraction, way back when it was employed for its original purpose – as a hospital – the construction had already amassed an incredibly sinister reputation.

Patients and employees of this hospital had been complaining that something “evil” and “frightening” seemed to roam the ward. The presence of a dark malicious force hanged in the air like a dense fog.

“Notes and letters discovered from that period often state that patients and specialists refused to treat the sick and dying if they were inside certain rooms of the Spanish Hospital. The Watson home was particularly venomous and on more than one occasion a doctor had to be marched at gunpoint to an officer’s bed.”

Now, it’s become a tourist attraction, molesting thousands of visitors a month. More than one has come out of the Spanish Hospital feeling this very evil.

“I’ve had tourists who simply ran out because they felt something pressing against their chest. I’ve been emailed photos… People who have gone home right after the tour and found scratches on their back.”

One of the most haunted rooms in the place is the “Mourning Ward”. The alcove was used for patients that were about to die and pass on. In that room, the priest would come and give them their Last Rites. There are cases of cries and moanings, others of distant conversations, and even a phantom imprint on one of the beds. The thing sometimes creaking as if someone is laying on it.

“Some people have actually seen a couple of ghosts, There’s one, in particular, that’s extremely frightening, a figure in a white hospital gown, moaning as blood dribs from the stump of his missing arm.”

Many deaths occurred in the old hospital, and even before that the place was cursed by the untold thousand souls of natives seeking justice.