In the dead of night, a hotel guest hears a noise: knock-knock-knock. The sound repeats itself, knock-knock-knock, and continues for two days, abruptly ending just the way it began – with no explanation.
Built in 1905, Gulfport’s Historic Peninsula Inn, 2937 Beach Blvd. S., has played many roles in its 115-year history. Known originally as the Bayview Hotel, the 40-room building became a hospital during WWI and WWII. After WWII, the inn was dubbed the Cedars of Sinai, a rehabilitation hospital for injured veterans. Once Cedars of Sinai shut down, the property didn’t stray far from it’s caretaking roots. It then became a mens-only restorium – old-timey speak for a nursing homes.
The inn remained a caretaking facility until the 1980s, when they had to close their doors due to increased retirement/elder care facility standards imposed by the State of Florida.
Current owner and operator Veronica Champion believes that with all the illness and death that occurred on the property, it would only stand to reason that some “things” stayed behind.
“The entities that are on the property are friendly,” Champion told Gabber staff. “It’s a friendly environment; they’re not hostile at all.”
According to Champion, the entities that reside at the inn aren’t seen, just heard.
Guests and staff tell Champion stories of eerie knocking that lasted up to two days, footsteps running in the hallway, items falling from shelves in the kitchen and “bed bumping” in the night – a sensation guests described as when your dog or cat jumps on the bed in the middle of the night.
Of course, there is no dog or cat.
Since purchasing the inn in 2016, Champion says she has heard the footsteps running down the hallway.
Paranormal investigator Tom Anthony, founder of Skyway Paranormal, became fascinated by the Peninsula Inn in 2010 after reading “Ghost Stories of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Pinellas County,” by Deborah Frethem, a local author and historian.
Anthony has visited several times to obtain proof of ghostly beings. During one visit in 2013, Anthony and his partners recorded electronic voice phenomenon, E.V.P – human-sounding voices from an unknown source, captured on recorded data and only heard once the recording is played back.
In Anthony’s YouTube video, viewers can hear unexplained male voices in response to his questions in several areas throughout the inn.
The inn remains one of Anthony’s favorite haunted spots.
In Frethem’s book, she claims that a woman runs up and down the third floor of the inn between 4 and 5 in the morning. The woman has been named Isabelle.
“You can hear the sound of her footsteps above you if you’re on the second floor. If you’re on the third floor, you don’t hear a thing,” said Champion. “I’ve experienced it myself.”
It’s possible there are multiple entities residing at the Peninsula Inn, but Champion calls them all Isabelle until they ask to be called something different.
“Makes it easier,” said Champion. The inn’s restaurant is called “Isabelle’s” in her honor.
Champion doesn’t encourage visitors who are interested in a chance paranormal encounter, because there’s no promise that one will occur.
“Truthfully, there aren’t any visuals,” said Champion. “Just noises. There’s no reason to be afraid. Every encounter has been benign – the personalities of these entities are friendly.”