Little White House

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Apparently a strong-willed spectral house manager hasn’t retired just yet.

Other spirits of various ranks still have business to do.


Though six United States Presidents (Taft, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton) have used this house for a variety of purposes, it was President Harry Truman who fell in love with it, using it as his Winter White House and vacation spot, and giving it the name, “the Little White House.” It was renovated into a vacation home for President Truman. When it was turned into a museum, it was renamed “Truman’s Little White House State of Florida Presidential Museum”.

In the middle of lovely gardens and fountains, the visitor finds this large, rectangular white clapboard structure that accommodated Naval Officers and staff, six first families/Presidents, and their guests. It also had space for important meetings and office headquarters for working vacations and crisis situations, that pop up from time to time.

The Little White House is considered to be a living museum, “not frozen to a single historic event”, and is still used for government functions, when the need arises. On display, one can see items from its history and also get a peek at the living quarters and other rooms on the guided tour. Some think the price is a bit high, but the money goes to a great cause; support of the museum.

Truman’s Little White House generates its own revenue by offering various symposiums, and seminars on various topics of interest, as they are responsible for raising the money needed to keep the museum and the building operational and in good shape.

Private events, hosted by individuals and groups, also take place here. Weddings and Receptions can make good use of the gardens, the inside dining areas, the south porch and the living room.


The need for a naval station became very much evident to the American government in the 1870s, when Spain and Cuba were in conflict. The Key West Naval Station was built to look after the U.S. interests in Cuba, which were becoming very important as a source of income for the local population of Key West as well.

The original structure was built in 1890, to house Naval Officers. It was a duplex, shared by the Naval Commandant and the Paymaster at one point, until 1911, when it was remodeled into a single home for the Commandant alone, with guest rooms, and offices/meeting spaces as well. When The U.S. Maine was sunk off the Florida coast in 1898, the Naval Base became of national importance and grew tremendously, becoming the headquarters of the Seventh Naval District. One of the first submarine stations was established here, as well as a Naval Air Station, as the weather was perfect for the training of Naval pilots.

During the War of 1918, Edison spent six months here at the Naval Commandant’s House while he set up and perfected no less than 41 weapons for the U.S. war effort.

During World War 2, because German U Boats were sinking cargo and military ships in the Gulf Stream, off Key West, and around the coasts of Florida, a Fleet Sonar School, an Underwater Weapons Development Center, and an Underwater Swimmer’s School (Scuba) was established here.

During the Cold War of the 1950s-early 1970s, the Key West Naval Base was an active part of our defense, especially the anti-submarine units. The old Commandant’s House, by then known as The Little White House, was used by the government and sometimes by U.S Presidents. Many people were also trained here.

During the Bay of Pigs incident and the Missile Crisis in the 1960s, when Cuba had missiles from Russia aimed at our cities, the Key West Naval Base was front and center to these conflicts, a hub of activity.

However, in 1974, when nuclear submarines came into the picture as a vital defense tool, things changed, as they were too big to dock at the existing Naval Submarine Station in Key West. The Naval Base was disestablished and moved, leaving Truman’s Little White House abandoned for 12 years. Uh oh!

In a tropical weather environment, the dormant Little White House didn’t fare very well. Luckily, the powers that be wised up and decided to turn Key West into a spot for vacationers and tourists, and Truman’s Little White House was rescued from its fixer upper status by a private foundation that raised 1.7 million dollars for its restoration, in 1986. The structure was given to the state of Florida, to be the state’s Presidential Museum, and was rededicated in 1991.



People who have been dedicated to their jobs, serving others while alive, often choose to continue to do so in their afterlives.

Many people served and worked in The Little White House over the years.

When a building is restored, it can draw entities back into this world, who loved the place while alive.

When people with the responsibility to take care of a place fail to do so, the neglected building can act as an environmental trigger, drawing entities who loved it in life back. Some of these entities don’t trust the living to take care of things, even when it has been restored.

Some of these entities may try to continue protecting the building, perceiving that the living may need their help.

The Little White House is Florida’s Presidential museum, perhaps some spirits have attached themselves to some of its mementos or exhibits, which are now seen on display.




Staff and security caretakers have reported seeing shadow people moving around the house, going about their business.

Possible candidates for the hauntings/visitations

Former residents: Naval Officers, guests, and vacationers who stayed here at one time.

The entity of a former maid/house manager – Keeping a close eye on the living, making sure that things are up to snuff! She probably put up with no nonsense while she was in charge, and the living need her help to supervise these staff members!

Staff have probably felt a strong unseen presence looking over their shoulder as they performed their duties, which can be unnerving, and has possibly led some folks to quit.


Probably so. Many personal experiences have been reported, some of them scary enough to causes some employees to quit. Some of the activity may be residual in nature, though shadow people are usually active, intelligent spirits. The female entity that was identified by psychic investigatiors must have been a strong personality when alive, and continues to be so in the afterlife as it keeps a close eye on the living, perhaps trying to supervise staff members.

No published paranormal investigations of Truman’s Little White House have been made available to the public.

No hard evidence can be found online.

However, it seems that psychics/mediums have conducted investigations and identified one of the entities as being a dedicated maid, who loved the place while she worked there and was angry that for a time it was allowed to deteriorate, and doesn’t quite trust the living to continue to take care of it. It sounds to me that she was more than likely the house manager, who took care of a host of duties.


111 Front Street
Key West, Florida 33040

Truman’s Little White House can be found in the Truman Annex, a residential community that was built on the old Naval base land in 1988, and is located on Stock Island. The Truman Annex is west of Whitehead Street, with the exception of Bahama Village. Front Street connects most of the other attractions in the Annex, including Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage and Audubon House And Tropical Gardens.

Truman’s Little White House is right across from Tank Island, and south of the State Park and Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage.



  • Haunted Places: The National Directory
    by Dennis William Hauck
    Penguin Books
  • The Harry S. Truman Little White House Wikipedia page

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Florida