After fire damage was repaired, spirits became very interactive, having fun!
This large, three-story white coquina brick restaurant, O.C. White’s Seafood and Spirits, is housed in this revised 18-century structure, renovated to look like Margaret Worth’s well-known mansion from that era. While enjoying a view of the bay, patrons of O.C. White’s Seafood and Spirits can enjoy delicious fish, lobster, salads, and beef. A delicious Sunday Brunch also brings in a crowd! On most nights, the pub offers live music. The nights we were there, a guitarist was playing and occasionally singing out on the patio, in the front area!
There are three floors, all hardwood, with mid 19th century windows. As the visitor walks into the front door, there are tables for patrons on the left, and a lovely wooden bar sitting on the right. The kitchen is located right off this room. Another adjacent room is also used for dining. Between them, a central staircase leads up to the second floor, that at one time must have been where the bedrooms were located. It is now a lovely, open space for diners. Somewhere on the second floor, a stairway goes up to the third floor, where the office is located.
The original structure was built in 1791 in the Spanish Colonial Style by prominent St. Augustine mover and shaker Don Miguel Ysnardy; a lovely home that was suitable for a successful merchant ship owner and ambitious building contractor. It proudly sat on the west side of Marine Street, where O.C. White’s parking lot is now located. He lived there for only eight years. It was sold in 1799 and transformed into one of the first St. Augustine hotels. Various owners bought the property through the first half of the 1800s.
In the early 1850s, it was bought by the widow of war hero and distinguished military man General William Worth. Mrs. Margaret Worth turned it back into a private home, modernizing it to fit into the architecture of the time. When her husband died of cholera in 1849 in Texas, she moved back to Florida, choosing St Augustine to start her life over as a widow. The Worth family was originally from New York, but General Worth was stationed in Florida, before being transferred to Texas.
Her daughter, Mary, and Mary’s husband, Col. John T. Sprague, eventually moved in with Mrs. Worth, just after the Civil War, in 1865, probably to make sure she wasn’t hassled by reconstruction forces in charge of St. Augustine. They lived with her until she died in 1869. The mansion remained in the Worth family until the turn of the century. In 1904, a local cigar maker bought the property. In 1948, it was once again sold, this time to George L. Potter, whose claim to fame was being the “one time owner of Potter’s Wax Museum”.
Thirteen years later, in 1961, Potter moved the entire structure, brick by brick, to its current location, a lot across the street. It now sits facing the bay, and there was room for a very nice patio/barbecue pit in front of the mansion. It was renovated back to its 1850s decorative style, when the Worth family lived there.
In the early 1990s Dave White, a businessman, bought the Worth Mansion with the dream of opening up a fish restaurant and pub. Just before he opened, a mysterious fire exploded in a waiter’s storage closet that had nothing flammable stored there. Damage occurred on the second and third floor. Windows were blown out on both floors. The investigation that followed couldn’t find what caused the fire.
O.C. White’s Seafood and Spirits has done very well over the last 18 years, and have expanded its business by buying a building just a few doors down, at the corner of Marine and King Street. They opened up a wedding and reception venue, called The White Room, which looks truly glorious!
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Here we discuss the possible reasons why O.C. White’s Seafood and Spirits has some entities supervising and teasing the living:
Hotels have been known to have guests who won’t check out, or employees who won’t stop working, after they have passed away. It doesn’t seem to matter in some cases, that the hotel that once was there is no longer in business!
Some entities play tricks on the living, not only to get some chuckles, but also to let it be known that they are still there!
People with strong attachments to their earthly homes or places of work during their lifetimes sometimes have a hard time letting go. Sometimes they visit or make small efforts to be noticed. Or they may try to be useful or just silently observe, trying not to be seen by the living, and just enjoy their memories.
If a huge change occurs, either through renovation or by accident, these entities can become very active. They may want to help the living manage things, or express their opinion, positive or not, at the results, or at the neglect of the property.
The fire that damaged the second and third floors of O.C. White’s could have been the incident that activated some of the entities who were present in the structure, observing the living.
It could be past owners and their families, or anyone with a connection to the structure, like employees, etc.
KNOWN OWNERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Don Miguel Ysnardy originally built a Spanish Colonial Style mansion, which he must have loved. Being a contractor by trade, he must have understood that his creation might have to be changed to continue making money.
Margaret Worth spent her last years in her beloved home in St. Augustine. Other members of her family also called the mansion home. She or one of her descendants could be the female entity keeping an eye on the living.
George L. Potter took the time and expense to move the entire structure across the road for some unknown reason, perhaps to increase business with a more visible location, or to provide parking, an important feature in St. Augustine.
The unknown cigar maker.
It could be some past patrons of past hotels and businesses formerly located here.
One owner of the pub, Dave, didn’t realize that he had entities until he finished remodeling and experienced the fire. It is thought that perhaps two entities, if not more, call this place home, for whatever reason, though more may be there also, namely the spirit of Margaret Worth, and a male entity.
Though no official investigation by a paranormal group has been published, Dave talked to author Dave Lapham, who wrote about the restaurant in his book Ancient City Hauntings: More Ghosts of St. Augustine, published in 2004. Consult the book for a more detailed narrative. Below is a summary.
After Dave first opened his restaurant, a mysterious fire from an unknown source started in the second floor closet where table setting materials were stored, so that waiters wouldn’t have to go up and down the stairs.
Though his third floor office looked like “charcoal”, a picture of the original Worth Mansion, and an elaborate light fixture, were completely unscorched, as if something had protected them.
While boarding up a window from the inside, he heard the startling, loud voice of an unseen and upset female presence nearby, behind him and in mid-air.
After he rebuilt, he reopened for business. The entities then made a point to make their presences known.
The Third Floor Office has been a place of paranormal activity:
An unseen male presence who likes to keep the living company, makes his presence known with his ripe aroma.
When about to unlock the office, the door suddenly opens up by itself, courtesy of a helpful entity, thought to be Mrs. Worth.
After locking the door, and going downstairs, staff have heard that same door slam shut!
Keys left on the office desk have been known to disappear, then reappear in an hour or so.
While sitting in the office, closing up for the night, Dave and others sometimes hear footsteps on the second floor, then proceed to come up the stairs to the office.
Personal experiences abound in other parts of the restaurant:
Two patrons who were sitting at an upstairs table, and three waiters, watched in amazement as two salt shakers danced around the table, several times.
All table candles are always put out as part of the restaurant’s nightly routine. Imagine the surprise of the opening staff when all the candles are found lit on the tables upstairs! Someone is trying to help!
Throughout the building, clothes and purses are moved around by unseen energy.
Beads left hanging on one wall decoration move to other pieces of decor.
On one occasion, a waiter coming down the stairs with some trays was zapped in the stomach by a shock, like from a buzzer, causing much alarm.
Pots and pans seem to have minds of their own in the kitchen.
In 2004, this restaurant was featured on a TV show, probably showing some evidence and interviews. Though no official evidence from professional ghost hunting groups has been shared recently with the public, pictures and reports from Ghost Pub Tour folks and other unofficial ghost enthusiasts, digitally capturing images of apparitions have been posted online.
118 Avenida Menendez
St Augustine, Florida 32084
O.C. White’s Seafood and Spirits is located right on the bay, on Avenida Menendez, between Cadis Street and Artillery Lane, near the Saint Augustine Marina and the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
- American City Hauntings: More Ghosts of St. Augustine
by Dave Lapham
- William J. Worth Wikipedia page
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr