New River Inn

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The entity of a restless man is still agitated.

The spirit of a yellow fever victim is outgoing and sociable.



After he lost his fruit trees in a bad freeze, Nathaniel Philemon Bryan came to Fort Lauderdale in 1895, with his wife and 7 children, with plans to start over. He and his two sons, Tom and Reed, supervised 400 laborers who were putting down train track for Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway.

By 1905, he had made enough money to invest and start other projects. The need for a hotel was great, so at the age of 60, Bryan hired a contractor by the name of Edwin T. King to build one, in a strategic spot, right across from the railroad station, and not far from the New River. This 1905 well-built two story building, made from hollow cement blocks from sand found nearby, is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest hotel. Bryan named it after himself, and it offered 24 rooms to railroad men and others in town on business and pleasure.

It had a nice dining room, in-house running ice water and irrigation systems, the luxury of two bathrooms, and lights using carbide lamps. Florida’s governor at the time stayed there on his visit to town on the hotel’s opening night. At some point, the name was changed to The New River Inn.

Bryan lived here the last 25 years of his life and ran the hotel, probably with the help of his family. He died there on August 8, 1935.


The New River Inn served as a hotel up until 1955. By then it had sunk into disrepair, becoming a historic fixer-upper opportunity, a project that wasn’t economically feasible for the private sector. It sat forlornly until the city of Fort Lauderdale took it over, restored it and gave it to The Historical Society to manage. The Society turned it into a  into a historical museum, the Old Fort Lauderdale History Museum, which is just across the way from The Old Fort Lauderdale Village. Visitors can see rescued homes of some of the founders, saved from the wrecking ball. The old school house is also there.



People who die before working out long-standing problems still have unfinished business, and sometimes continue trying to solve them, not letting their own deaths get in the way! They simply aren’t able to let go of their strong emotions and worries.

People who love their earthly home or place of business, sometimes don’t want to leave it behind to go to the other side, and choose to stay.

Children died in accidents at the New River Inn, and epidemics such as yellow fever swept through on occasion. Around the turn-of-the-century, all of Fort Lauderdale suffered from a yellow fever outbreak. The nearby river, or the railroad tracks, also probably claimed some children’s lives. Sadly, no generation of human beings has been spared the tragedy of “dumb kid” accidents.



The entities residing here are most active between 11:00 PM and 3:00 AM

The Entity of a restless man

Thought to be a horseman/rancher, Texas Ranger, or railroad man, he is dressed in a duster outfit (both the traditional hat and long black canvas or leather coat).

This entity walks back and forth on the first floor of the hotel, and the front porch, as if he is waiting for someone, or trying to work on a problem. If the living notice him, he glares at them as if to say, “What are you looking at?” and disappears. If unnoticed by this entity, people have seen him look angrily at them before he disappears.

The Entity of Nathaniel P. Bryan

He is still enjoying his hotel and should be hired by the Historical Society as part of the evening security detail.

When the museum is closed, people peeking into the front door have seen the stern face of a white-haired gentleman, crabbily looking at them. Sometimes a disembodied hand and arm blocks their view. Pictures of the hand and arm have been taken.

The Entity of a young girl

Thought to be LuLu Marshall, a child in Miss Ivy’s first class in 1899.

She is described as having blonde, curly hair, and is about 5-7 years old, dressed in turn-of-the-century attire. She appears to look like an ordinary child, on the second floor veranda, and also likes to play with a toy near the New River nearby. She has been seen looking out the windows of the building as well.

She has talked to people who have asked her questions. She has told the living that she lives in a two story house. Imagine the people’s surprise when she suddenly disappears.


It seems to be the home of several spirits, supported by many eyewitness accounts and a few pictures. No hard evidence has been recorded by paranormal investigators to back up these accounts, though the living report they have experienced plenty of encounters with the spirits here.




229 SW Second Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
(954) 463-4431

The New River Inn, which now houses the Old Fort Lauderdale History Museum, is located about .65 miles west of The Stranahan House, just across the street from The Old Fort Lauderdale Village, which is a gathering place of old historic homes, and places of interest, near the waterfront.


  • Haunted Fort Lauderdale
    by John Marc Carr

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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