By Jamie Pearce
Author & Paranormal Investigator
SPECIAL TO HISTORIC CITY NEWS
Antiques and Uniques Collectibles, located at 7 Aviles Street in St Augustine, was originally built between 1885 and 1888 by A.H. Cornish as the St. Augustine City Jail. It was built above the Los Remedios Catholic Cathedral Cemetery, which dates to the 1700s.
During its stint as a jail it housed small time crooks and drunks. By 1893, the jail was closed, and additions would be made to the building by the tenants and businesses that followed. In the years after the jails closure the building housed a Chinese laundry, offices, and a variety of shops.
In 2003, Larry and Denise Altman fell in love with the town and the building during a visit to St. Augustine. Afterwards they felt themselves drawn back time and time again. They were finally able to fulfill their dream and buy the building in 2010, opening the antique shop that resides there today.
From the moment they took over, paranormal incidents began occuring. Through the last several years they’ve been on a first name basis with many of their resident ghosts. The store is so active that they’ve installed cameras throughout to capture what goes on day and night, and for use in live web broadcasts. Fans of the paranormal and armchair investigators often report what they witness.
One camera actually captured the door of the refrigerator (located behind the counter) open wide as if someone were getting a drink out. So far the Altmans and my team have been unable to debunk this video. In fact, my team, Historic Haunts Investigations, and I have tried to capture our own evidence here many times, the building seldom lets us down.
During one of our investigations, three team members and I were in the garage area and the door into the shop opened on its own. When we investigated further we discovered that there was no way for the door to do this on its own. The door is actually tilted in a way that would have caused it to swing in the opposite direction.
During another investigation we caught EVP’s mentioning four of the team members there in the room. One investigator stated she had never been in the room to which a captured spirit EVP replied, “You have to” in a very irritated tone. The team member stated again she hadn’t and another EVP said “Have so”. Three of my team members and I informed the spirit she had been in the shop before, but not the area we were in. The EVP we recorded immediately following confirmed, “Exactly”. It was clear we had an intelligent haunt on our hands.
There are at least two ghosts of children here. Many believe they are related to a former Sheriff or jailer. Denise and Larry keep a few children’s toys in the closet for these spirits to play with and paranormal equipment to try and capture the activity going on.
Sometimes when inquiries are made about whether the building is haunted or not the Altmans will point out a hot spot and share the stories of their resident ghosts. They allow the building to be rented for paranormal investigations at a very reasonable fee. We recommend it because every time we’ve been here, we’ve captured some kind of evidence.
Besides the phantom EVP’s from the spirits of former living souls, other unusual events often occur. For example, there is reportedly a ghost cat haunting here. The last time we investigated five members of my team heard two distinct “meows” inside the store, a store with no cats.
Phantom smells are sometimes encountered at this location. On one of our investigations the room filled with the smell of bacon, with no plausible explanation. With incidents like these it’s easy to see why the store is a great place to shop, see a piece of St. Augustine’s history, and possibly make a few new paranormal friends.