5.The Stranahan House

FRANK-STRANAHAN

The Stranahan House, Built in 1906, for Pioneer Floridian Frank Stranahan, This is one of Haunted Fort Lauderdale’s most haunted houses. Built in 1906, for Pioneer Floridian Frank Stranahan. Experts have analyzed the unexplained events at the Stranahan House and have determined they are “Unexplainable”!

Stranahan House, located in downtown Fort Lauderdale on the New River, has been the site most closely associated with both the founding of the City and its economic and social development. Frank Stranahan originally selected the site because it was where he operated his barge ferry across the river as part of the new road from Lantana to what is now North Miami. Today, Stranahan House is the eastern anchor of River Walk, a linear waterfront park connecting Fort Lauderdale’s historic district with the soon to be created cultural district anchored by the Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Discovery and Science.

The Haunted Stranahan House has served as a trading post, post office, bank and town hall. Restored to its 1913, it’s a “must see” in Haunted South Florida.

Frank Stranahan was born in Vienna, Ohio August 21, 1864. In 1890, he relocated to South Florida for health reasons, settling first in Melbourne. Moving again in 1893, Stranahan relocated to Fort Lauderdale to assume management of the overland mail route from Lantana to Coconut Grove.

Stranahan established the first post office in Fort Lauderdale, and the location also became a popular trading post and ferry service. By 1895, Stranahan’s Trading Post was a well-known South Florida landmark. Stranahan also established the first banking institution in Fort Lauderdale and financed the construction of the first road from the New River to Miami. He became one of the largest land owners in the area but gave away large portions of his land for public welfare, including sites for the memorial Hospital and Stranahan Park.

Frank Stranahan married the lovely Ivy Cromartie and used his newly acquired wealth to build her a home whose charm and beauty would endure into the 21st century. Today Stranahan’s labor of love serves as a unique – and haunted – museum.

Stranahan died in the city on June 23, 1929 but his life story had a sad end. Legend tells that he committed suicide after having sunk into financial ruin in 1927 when he lost most of his wealth and holdings in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane and then being further victimized by the arrival of the Great Depression. Stranahan lost a battle with depression, compounded by the fact that it was not only his own money and assets that were lost, but also those of his family and friends who had entrusted their life savings to his financial management.

Stranahan’s demise was his own doing and remains an oddly unique departure: He methodically strapped a large iron gate to his ankle and threw himself into the nearby Inter coastal Waterway. The weight of the gate assured that he would not be able to alter his course of action even if he had wanted to. But many say that Stranahan may have found his way back to the home he knew in life, returning as a ghost from the watery depths that claimed him.

The Haunted house itself, was built of Dade County pine, is an example of Florida vernacular architecture in a tropical wilderness setting. Expanded and renovated numerous times, it is presently restored to its 1913-1915 configuration. At that time the Stranahan’s seven year old home had electric wiring, indoor plumbing and running water, interior stairways, bay windows and wide porches.

All woodwork, flooring and paneling have been refinished and the exterior repainted in the original white with green trim. A new roof, a prototype for other historical properties, was completed in 1996 and meets current hurricane specifications. Many, but not all, of the original furnishings were either sold or given away over the years, and the house is furnished with examples of period Victorian furniture and decorative pieces. And some say this has brought many of the hauntings and ghost back to the house.

Locals say that Frank Stranahan is still in residence at the home he built with such loving care. Reports of strange apparitions and ghostly noises have come from rattle staff members. Because Stranahan is considered one of the founding fathers of Fort Lauderdale, ghostly happenings at his former residence still make the news. Reports about the Haunted Stranahan House have been featured on local radio stations and in the local newspaper, the Sun-Sentinel News.

But its not just Frank Stranahan who remains an unseen resident at this historic haunted home. As many as six family members have died in the house. The ghost of Ivy Cromartie Stranahan, who died in an upstairs bedroom in 1971, is reported to appear accompanied by the strong scent of an antique fragrance. The uneasy ghost of her father, Augustus Cromartie, who died in that same bedroom years before, is reported to make his presence known on occasion; other ghostly residents include Ivy’s brother and sister and the apparition of an Indian servant girl seen outside the rear of the building.

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IVY STRANAHAN

Reports of unearthly activities are made by employees, guests and visitors from time to time. Even vagrants who used to habitually sleep on the expansive exterior porch area (now fenced off) reportedly didn’t have to wait for employees or security guards to drive them away. Accounts from the squatters tell of encounters with an angry spirit who shows his displeasure by banging on the walls of the building preventing the vagrants from getting any rest. One homeless man reported being chased away from the home by an unseen but angry spirit that only broke off the pursuit once the vagrant had reached the property line.

The third floor attic space is the site of much activity. Employees who sometimes have to go to the attic have reported the presence of a spirit in the area and sometimes the cold touch of a hand upon their back. Reports seem to support the contention that this is the ghost of Ivy Cromartie Stranahan attempting to assure that the employee does not fall from the attic. Apparently, the possibility of an employee being injured was one of Ivy’s great fears in this area. In the bedroom where Ivy died, the beds are made and re-made. Every time the bed is straightened the housekeeping staff will inevitably return the next day to find an imprint as if someone had sat down and steadied themselves with a heavy hand on the bed. This occurs even though the bedroom is off limits most of the day, and the last staff members to be in the room work the evening shift.

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