After fire damage was repaired, spirits became very interactive, having fun!
This large, 3 story white coquina brick restaurant, O.C. White’s Seafood and Spirits, makes its home in this revised 1791 structure, renovated to look like Margaret Worth’s 1800s mansion. 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, O.C. White’s Seafood and Spirits 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. There is another large room off this front room, also used for dining. Between the two rooms, there is a central staircase leading up to the second floor, that at one time must have been where the bedrooms were located. It is now a lovely, open room, for diners. Somewhere on the second floor, there is a stairway 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 now is 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 this now commercial property through the first half of the 1800s.
In the early 1850s, this hotel was bought by the widow of war hero and distinguished military man, General William Worth. Mrs. Margaret Worth renovated this hotel back into a private home, modernizing it to fit into the architecture of the time. When her husband had died of cholera in 1849 in Texas, she moved back to Florida, choosing St Augustine to start her life over as a single widow. The Worth family was originally from New York, but General Worth was stationed in Florida, before he was transferred to Texas.
Margaret must have loved her new home, and she lived there by herself for a time. Margaret’s daughter, Mary, and her husband, Col. John T. Sprague, eventually moved in with Mrs. Worth, just after the ending of the Civil War, in 1865, probably to make sure she wasn’t hassled by the reconstruction forces in charge of the city 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, the structure 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”. Perhaps his museum was located in the home itself.
Thirteen years later, in 1961, George Potter moved the entire structure, brick by brick to its current location, to the 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, probably losing the improvements made by the various owners of this structure, over the years.
In the early 1990s Dave White, a businessman, bought the Worth Mansion with the dream of opening up a fish restaurant and pub, and perhaps doing some remodeling so that the structure would better suit a restaurant. In a short time, he transformed the old Worth Mansion into a seafood restaurant. 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, as well as blowing out the windows 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
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, even when they are dead. 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 to not only get some chuckles, but also let it be known that they are there!
People who have a strong attachment to their earthly home or place of work during their lives, sometimes have a hard time letting go, and visit at times, make small efforts to be noticed, to be useful or just silently observe, trying to be unobserved by the living, just enjoying their memories.
If a huge change occurs, either through renovation or through an accident, these entities can become very active, wanting to help the living manage things, or express their unhappiness or happiness 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 that were hanging around the structure, observing the living.
It could be some of the 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 a structure must be changed sometimes to continue to make 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 to the other side of the road, for some unknown reason, perhaps to increase his business by having a more visible location, and provide parking, an important feature in St. Augustine.
The unknown cigar maker.
It could be some past patrons of the PAST hotels and businesses that once were located in this structure.
Dave didn’t realize that he had entities until he finished the remodeling and experienced the fire. It is thought that perhaps at least two entities call this structure home, for whatever reason, though more unknown entities may be there also: The spirit of Margaret Worth, and a male entity.
Though no “official investigation” by a paranormal investigation group has been published, the current owner talked to author, Dave Lapham, who wrote about the occurrences that happened in the restaurant; getting the personal experiences of owner Dave, his family and his employees. The book, ANCIENT CITY HAUNTINGS: More Ghosts of St. Augustine was published in 2004. Consult the book for a more detailed narrative. Below is a summary.
After he had first opened his restaurant, a mysterious fire from an unknown source started in the second floor closet where the table setting materials were stored, so that the 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 a startling, loud VP of an upset female unseen presence in close proximity, BEHIND him and mid-air.
After he rebuilt, he reopened for business. The entities made a point to make their presences known.
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 by his ripe aroma.
When about to unlock the office, the door suddenly opens up by itself by 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, but then reappear in an hour or so.
While sitting in the office, closing up for the night, he and others would hear footsteps walking around the second floor, and 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 the table candles were always put out during the closing routine. Imagine the surprise of the opening staff when all the candles were found lit on the tables upstairs! Someone was 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.
A waiter was coming down the stairs with some trays, when she was zapped in the stomach by a shock, like from a buzzer, causing much alarm.
Pots and pans seem to have a mind 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 gathered by a professional ghost hunting group has been shared recently with the public, other pictures and reports from the Ghost Pub Tour folks and other unofficial ghost enthusiasts who just happen to take a picture capturing an apparition on digital film 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